Tristram Stuart’s Food Waste talk

Poster Tristram Stuart-JPG copyOrganised by Cambridge Carbon Footprint, Cambridge Sustainable Food attended the Food Waste Scandal talk given by international food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart, founder of Feedback.

In contrast to our ‘Punt Stunt’ (as seen in the Cambridge News), that focused on household food waste, Tristram’s presentation explored the great quantities of food wasted by UK supermarkets. Figures such as ‘50% of UK food waste is created by households’ are frequently published by industry studies and subsequently seized upon by the media.

As Tristram explained, however, these statistics overlook food produced abroad that is discarded by supermarkets and other players within the global food system. Many tonnes of food are rejected by supermarkets before it even reaches the shelves on the grounds that it ‘does not meet the standards required’. This could be because the food isn’t the right shape, is no longer in demand, or the buyer is able to source produce more cheaply elsewhere. A farmer who has spent a year of their time, money, and other resources can see their crop condemned to waste at the very last minute before sale.

Tristram’s successful campaigning includes negotiating with Tesco to change their policy regarding the cosmetic standards of cut green beans on their shelves. Green bean growers were trimming around 30% of each bean to meet the size specifications given to them. As a result of Tesco changing their policy, one bean grower produced a third less food waste, and saw their profit increased by a third the following year.

With tips on how we as consumers can influence attitudes to food waste, no matter how small they may seem, Tristram highlighted the many factors involved which lead to waste within the global food system. From rearing pigs in his mid-teens to one of the most active food waste campaigners, Tristram Stuart is on a mission to reduce food waste on a global scale. You can follow Tristram’s work via his website Feedback and Twitter @Feeding5k.

You can find further information on our ‘Punt Stunt’ via the Cambridge News. The evening also include fabulous food-that-would-have-been-wasted from Food Cycle and short presentations from local food waste groups + the launch of CSF’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign by Mayor-elect Robert Dryden.

Jessica Woodward