BY: MATTHEW CHIN
One third of the food produced in the world is wasted, amounting to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of waste stuffing landfills every year. In addition, 13.5 per cent—or 805 million people in the world—don’t have enough food and are undernourished. This 1.3 billion tonnes of perfectly edible produce is mainly lost in distribution and sales, meaning it doesn’t match an aesthetic standard or was in proximity of inedible produce.
In Britain, food waste produces 25.7 million tons of CO2 per year and amounts to $28.4 billion lost annually. Realizing this, one British chef is building unconventional restaurants to utilize the wasted food.
The Real Junk Food Project founded by Chef Adam Smith, 29, is a movement to create cafés where the food is found by collecting unwanted produce from households, other cafés, local supermarkets and even food photographers. The goal is to show how much food is being wasted and how the food can be used.
The Real Junk Food Project founded by Chef Adam Smith is a movement to create cafés that use food that would otherwise have been thrown out.
Smith has been a chef for over 12 years, traveling around the world cooking in various high-class restaurants. He noticed a major fundamental flaw in the culinary industry and the food industry, where too much food is wasted when it is perfectly good to eat. Wanting to change that, he returned to the U.K. to start his own café restaurant.
“I had this concept and this idea in my head saying ‘I’m going to feed the fucking world.’ I know how I can do it. I know how simple it is. You just abolish the ideas, regulations, and laws by sticking your middle finger at them,” Smith said in a video. “[What I’m doing] feels like it is common sense and common sense is missing when most of these regulations and laws are made and that’s the reason why we’re in such a mess socially and environmentally.”
Food comes from various different sources by collecting unwanted produce from households, other cafés, local supermarkets and even food photographers.
Founded in 2013, The Real Junk Food Project now operates in over four countries from the U.K. to Australia, Brazil, and Switzerland, with new restaurants set to open in South Africa, Denmark, Indonesia, and the United States. There are 47 restaurants to date, but by the end of the year he plans to amass a total of 250 around the world.
Smith’s goal is to make the cafés a community hub that runs off volunteers. About 200 volunteers collect the food while others prepare, inspect, and cook the food. Customers adhere to a “pay as you feel” standard, where you only pay what you think the dish deserves, and if you don’t have any money, you can pay for the meal by performing chores such as washing the dishes, cleaning the windows, or sweeping the floor.
Smith calls his project a “revolution” not just because he is utilizing the food that would have been wasted, but because he is bringing together all kinds of people that come to his café ranging from homeless to celebrities.
“It is bringing people from different demographics together that doesn’t involve money. People are opening Junk Food Projects because they have had enough of what is going on in society and care about what is happening to other human beings,” Smith said in the Independent.
Since Smith’s flagship café opened in December 2013, it has fed 10,000 people with 50 tonnes of food that would have otherwise went to waste. Not one person has become ill from eating at the restaurant.