Earlier this year I was lucky enough to get a reservation at Dan Barber’s WastED pop-up at Selfridges in London. The event aimed to start conversations about sustainability and waste by serving up a hugely innovative menu made primarily from food by-products usually binned by the food industry.
With people in the UK throwing away a staggering £13bn worth of food every year, the need to tackle the problem is all too real. Here in Cardiff we might not have world famous chefs serving up ‘spent hen broth’ on department store rooftops! But what we do have is a handful of passionate small businesses who are doing their bit to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the problem.
#1 Lia’s Kitchen
Lia of Lia’s Kitchen has been making it her business to tackle the food waste problem in Cardiff for years. She has co-delivered a substantial part of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign work in Cardiff supported by Wrap Cymru; collaborated with Food Cardiff’s award- winning School Holiday Education Programme in the delivery of food waste reduction cooking workshops at a number of schools; and collaborated with Food Standards Agency Wales to co-deliver a food waste reduction and safety campaign. In 2016, Lia was commended for her social enterprise and sustainability work on food waste and refugee inclusion as a finalist for CynnalCymru’s Social Enterprise award. Get recipe inspiration and keep up to date with Lia’s latest projects and plans by reading her blog, liaskitchen.com.
Lia is also the brains behind Wasteless Cardiff, a supper club that unites chefs from around the city and uses surplus food that was destined for the bin to create delicious dinners!
#2 Green City Events
Green City is a Community Interest Company based in Cardiff – a team of experienced local eco-enthusiasts, passionate about sustainable living and the environment. They offer affordable and practical workshops, events and activities; from helping people to get their hands muddy and explore nature, to teaching practical cookery skills that help minimise food wastage. Their monthly ‘Secret Squirrel Supper Clubs’ are catered by the aforementioned Lia, and guests get the chance to help prepare some of the dishes, learn some of Lia’s culinary tips and take some ideas back home. Keep an eye on Green City’s Eventbrite page for details of the next one.
#3 Get Wonky
Get Wonky create a variety of bottled juices exclusively made with surplus and mis-shapen fruit – fruit that would otherwise be discarded as it fails to meet the strict aesthetic standards set out by supermarkets. The company was set up by a pair of USW graduates, Maciek Kacprzyk, 24, and Karina Sudenyte, 21, who were frustrated by the levels of waste and inefficiency they saw in the food and drink sector. Get Wonky juices are available in a number of independent cafes and coffee shops around Cardiff.
#4 Penylan Pantry
The Penylan Pantry has had a low food waste ethos ever since they opened their doors 4 years ago; and the small amount of food waste they can’t avoid gets collected by a company based in Newport, who turn it into bio-fuel. Up to 70% of Penylan Pantry’s menu is made up of items that would otherwise become food waste – fresh fruit and veg that hasn’t sold on the veg stand goes into soups, stews, and compotes; bread is turned into bread crumbs that coat the scotch eggs; left-over oil from the deli counter anti-pasta is used to brush the toast for extra-tasty cheese on toast; and they incorporate cauliflower leaves, beetroot leaves, broccoli stalks, carrot tops, celeriac tops and other lesser-known but perfectly delicious bits of veg in their recipes day-in, day-out. They recently filmed a short film with Wrap Cymru and the British Hospitality Association, aimed at inspiring other businesses to waste less food – watch the film here: http://bit.ly/YBIFvideo.
#5 Dusty Knuckle
Dusty Knuckle started life in late 2014 as a pop-up street-food business, before moving into their permanent home at The Printhaus in Canton in the summer of 2016. I am huge fans of the Dusty gang, not only because they make some the best pizzas around, they were also the first company in the UK to use reusable take-away pizza boxes (pictures below) and have a passion for using ethical produce, and for educating people in the provenance of their food.
In December, they take it one-step further by incorporating food that would usually have been discarded into their three-course ‘Get Wasted’ Christmas party menu. To find out more visit www.facebook.com/dustyknucklepizzacompany.
Not forgetting Pipes Brewery, Lufkin Coffee, Pettigrew Bakery and Milgi…
Situated down a little alley in Pontcanna, right next to the Pipes Microbrewery, sits Lufkin Coffee. Their leftover coffee grinds are used to create the Pipes Brewery espresso porter, which reduces the waste output from both businesses. Another small business who put their coffee grinds to good use is the Canton-based Pettigrew Bakery, instead bagging them up for customers to take home for use as garden fertiliser. They also list their left over cakes and breads at a discounted price on an app called ‘Too Good To Go‘ (more on that later in this article).
Meanwhile over in Roath, vegetarian restaurant Milgi use left over smoothie fruit pulps to make cake; off-cuts from the Sunday dinner veg in their dishes for the next day; and cook in small, regular batches to avoid produce going past its use-by-date.
Reducing food waste? There’s an app for that…
Technology to the rescue! These free, easy-to-use apps can help you do your bit for the war on waste from the comfort of your home.
#1 Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go is an app which connects users with delicious restaurant and take-away food that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day. Prices range from a tiny £2 up to £3.80, and food is made available an hour before closing time, for customers to enjoy on-the-go from an environmentally-friendly, sugarcane box. Since launch, the app has helped save 2,000,000 meals from ending up in the bin. This is including a load of delicious bread from the aforementioned Pettigrew Bakery, much of which has ended up in my belly)! To find out more and download the app, visit: toogoodtogo.co.uk.
Just like Too Good To Go, OLIO is a free app that connects people to local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. However, OLIO also connects people with their neighbours and others in the community, and all food is shared on a donation basis. Going on holiday and have a fridge full of salad that won’t last? Pop it on the app and give it to a neighbour who can eat it for their dinner. Find out more and download the app for free from olioex.com.