My boyfriend and I have taken to watching food documentaries of late – which has made me lose my taste for food in some ways but has spurred my appetite to learn more about the industries that get our meals from farm to fork. There are plenty of docs that look at the nutritional aspects of food which are quite interesting and unsettling. But one food film that really got my attention looks at all the food that gets wasted from the farm, to the grocery store, to the dinner table. Growing up in a household where I was always told to clean my plate and not waste a single bite, it is disturbing to learn that 40% of everything that is grown is not eaten. How is that possible?
Well, while dismaying, it is definitely not surprising. We live in a consumeristic society that is constantly taking, and being ever wasteful in the process. The way we shop for our iPhones is the same way we shop for our groceries: not thinking of the consequences of our immediate gratification.
This is what Vancouver filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer look into with their documentary Just Eat It. It’s an entertaining and informative look at how much food gets wasted along the chain. Similar to their first documentary where they put themselves to the challenge of living zero waste, the couple took to a new challenge of eating only “food waste”: items that they scrounged out of dumpsters or are the rejects at the grocery store. It’s surprising how much food the couple are able to find by dumpster-diving and really quite shocking how much good food grocery stores, farmers and consumers just throw away. There’s one point in the film where Grant finds an entire dumpster filled with President’s Choice hummus – completely unopened, completely edible, yet in the garbage because of a labelling issue. There was so much hummus, it looked like one of those ball pits that kids play in, he was just swimming in hummus containers. It just makes no sense.
My three takeaways that I’ve been trying to follow since watching the film are aimed at reducing my personal food waste:
- If you don’t buy it, you can’t waste it! I’m often tempted by random items in the aisles without regard for when or how I will make the food. So before I buy, I make sure that I will have time to prepare and eat the food so it doesn’t go to waste.
- Freeze it! The freezer is your best friend when it comes to saving food before it goes bad. Prolonging the life of your food through the freezer will give you another chance to eat it later.
- Give the ugly fruits and vegetables some love. There are already some local companies that look to save misfit foods by reselling them for a discount. The bruised apple or ripe banana is still good to eat – so if I buy the fruit that no one else will buy, then I can help keep them out of the garbage.
I highly recommend this film to learn more about what’s going on with food and where it’s all going. If you’re in Canada, you can watch the entire documentary for free online on BC’s Knowledge Network.