Rude Food Blog

Shifting discourses: A thesis on Food WasteNews

Posted by Coni Thu, October 20, 2016 11:24:04

I bite into an apple and think of the sun. I think of the apple tree and its extraordinary capacity to store the sun’s energy in the form of glorious crisp sweetness. I go into a supermarket and think of monoculture fields that extend beyond the horizon. I think of depleted land, poisonous chemicals, intensive fossil fuel use, assembly lines, cruelty and shameful minimum wage. Where does gratitude stand in the queue for the cashier?

***

During my master’s studies at Lund University I came in contact with Rude Food and encountered a heterogeneous, organized and motivated group working to prevent food waste. Shyly but surely I increased my participation until I was integral part of the weekly routine, particularly with the food rescue team. I was a steady and committed Rude Food volunteer for a little more than a year, mainly during 2015/2016 up until I relocated to another (more sunny) country. My volunteering experience provided me with many delicious free meals, new friends and a thesis topic: how is it possible that food waste is such a widespread and normalized occurrence? I observed that when edible food intended for human consumption is tossed into the garbage it is never intrinsically waste but it becomes waste through a very powerful, unquestionable (irrational) logic. How and why does that happen? These questions inspired my research.

Most of the active 2015/2016 volunteers where part of my research so it’s long overdue that I share my conclusions. Here it goes.

Blog imageImage 1
Word cloud that illustrates by size the words most frequently used in the focus group with Rude Food volunteers that was part of my research.



Food is powerful far beyond basic nutrition. Food is located at the point where we articulate the human relationship with nature and where we make sense of social life. In my view, food is the inspiration and the site for flourishing answers towards a sustainable future.

In mainstream western industrialized culture food is framed, talked about and brought into existence as a disposable commodity; which poses a big environmental, social and ultimately ethical problem. The food you will eat today is most likely the product of industrialization, brought to you after being categorized and standardized though a process widely taken over by international corporations that plunder and deplete natural resources ruled by a draconian profit-oriented logic*. Only through a money-making logic it makes sense for abundant food surplus to become food waste. That is how I addressed in my thesis – titled “The Food Waste Paradox from a Critical Discursive Perspective” – the problem of food waste as a problem of discourse and irrationality. It’s a perspective where food, capitalism and culture are related and where the work of the Rude Food volunteers has the potential to change the dominant (capitalist) discourse.

Blog imageImage 2
Data from SAVE FOOD: Global initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction



I start from the fact that food waste is inadequately defined by the institutions that have the power to discursively frame the problem and so I come up with my own definition: food waste is that surplus of food that has been excluded from human foodways** for reasons unrelated to its use-value and rather determined by a failure to contribute to exchange-value. This definition is more adequate as it opens up the possibility to restitute value to a marginalized materiality whose use-value might still be intact despite the fact that it could be framed worthless for the industrial economy.
Blog imageImage 3
The author during one of the mentioned weekly rescues. Notice the scale on the right side, where the bounty was meticulously weighted and the out-of-focus hand depicting speedy enthusiasm.



In my analysis, the work done at Rude Food entails a discursive shift of meaning towards the recognition of the use-value of food waste and therefore a refocus on it as a food surplus, never a kind waste. In its work Rude Food is also negotiating a new relationship with capitalism not only as a questionable mode of economic organization but also as an ideology (in the sense of producing and reproducing power relations).

Image 4
What does food waste look like? One example as to how the Rude Food team is creating new meanings. For the FAO food waste looks like a rotting inedible orange but for Rude Food the image of food waste is something delicious: a brownie made with coffee grounds or a colourful vegetarian spread.


The challenge is overwhelming – don’t we know it – but initiatives such as Rude Food, where people are engaged as active participants; as organized agents of change and not merely passive consumers are vital for the systemic global change that is not only urgent but mandatory if we are going to “limit global warming to well below 2°C”, a target so ceremoniously pledged in the Paris Agreement (COP21).

We need to break away from the perceptual framework that normalizes the commodification of food and for this we need to challenge the status quo, which means to question the puzzle as a whole. Only then we can see that it’s not good enough to replace some pieces of the puzzle with new ones painted in green. The solution is much more radical and demands creativity: it’s to insert square pegs, leave empty spaces, make holes on the table, attach ropes and leverages to create a totally different mesh of logic that expands in different dimensions and engages the human element differently. And the work done by Rude Food is a step forward in this creative path.

To sum up: keep on keeping on Rudefoodies!

You can read my thesis here.


Constanza Hepp, MsC. Activist and writer based in Italy.


*Note that this process accounts for 30% of the world’s total energy consumption (FAO 2011) and up to 51% of GHG emissions (Worldwatch Institute).

**The concept of foodways refers to the socially regulated patterns that determine what is considered food, how it is eaten and why (from the book Food and Society: Principles and Paradoxes by Amy Guptill, Betsy Lucal and Denise Copelton, 2013).





Rescue the Carrots!News

Posted by Angelica Wed, October 14, 2015 19:09:42

Not everyone can say they have rescued a carrot. Since last week, I can. But why did I want to save a carrot in the first place?

We all know people are starving in this world. The problem isn’t that we are too many people on this earth to feed us all, a bigger problem is that in countries like Sweden a huge amount of the food produced is being thrown away. Like the carrot I mentioned above (and lots of other carrots, and lots of other foods). After a long time of being angry about this, I was happy to find Rude Food who tries to do something concrete. I decided to follow one of the food rescuer, Dennis, on his weekly round to save breads and vegetables from an obscure future in the dumpsters.


So how was the rescue round? Did I feel as much of a super hero as the name “rescuer” inclines? Actually, yes. Maneuvering the big bike (an open source cargo trike by Woolfer/XYZ Bikes') was tough; the big box in the front of the bike is both heavy and sharp and I had to zigzag my way between lamp-posts and people in order to avoid any bloody (or juicy) accidents. Several times I was almost hit by a car. My sweaty effort paid well off though; on my first food rescue round 42 kilos of carrots, breads, cauliflower and other amazing stuff were saved into a lovely meal. And that’s were food really should be, right? To me these food rescue rounds aren’t so much about saving food that would otherwise go to waste, as to acknowledge the problem of food waste by really dragging the waste out of the dark and put it all on the table, literary speaking. Also, finding the very carrots you rescued transformed into a beautiful carrot chutney at a brunch buffé is a great motivation for a food rescuer to do it all over again. For the first time in my life, I'm able to say "I love the taste of waste".



Blog image Say hi to Dennis, one of Rude Food's rescuer!


/ Angelica, new volunteer











When we make more than we can eatNews

Posted by Zeenath Wed, September 09, 2015 04:38:43


This piece was published in the Fresh Vegan magazine, Spring Issue 2015.

When we make more than we can eat

by

Zeenath Hasan
Founder Director
Rude Food Malmö


Ending up with more than we can eat is a curious occurrence of our times. While the existence of food waste can be said to be an outcome of industrial production and materialist consumption, the emergence I would like to trace here is that of interventions into waste production by citizen action. In this essay I will share my thinking behind initiating Sweden's first food waste catering service, Rude Food Malmö, to bring you the story of current initiatives into food waste intervention. I will end this narrative with two recipes to highlight food waste both as an age old occurrence and as a sign of our times.

To begin with outlining the sites of intervention into food waste, I shall delve into three turbulences from a citizen action perspective:

1. Line of Resistance

2. The Needy Knows

3. Emergence of the Food Waste Entrepreneur

1. Line of Resistance

Freeganism as an organised resistance to counter food waste was an outcome of the anti-globalisation movement in the mid-90s. It emerged as an anti-consumerist move to quickly gain stronghold as a subculture or a preferred way of life by a conscientious few. Freegans resist the underuse of necessities like food and housing through self-organised tactics of dumpster diving, squatting, or guerilla gardening. Knowledge is passed on in the form of a buddy system. Collectively mapping prospective supermarket bins, dumpster divers follow self-made rules for their dumpster diving action, cautioning each other to, 'Leave it cleaner than you found it!' Thriving at the borders of legality, dumpster diving in Sweden is given a side glance by authorities for whom a follow up with legal action is a financial drain that does not deserve precious executive time nor the public outcry that it might chance up.

2. The Needy Knows

Soup kitchens are a meeting point for those that want to give and those that have found themselves in a position to receive. Frequently organised by charities, churches and community groups, the soup kitchen is channel for food to those who need it. The food is sourced from commercial kitchens, donated, or prepared by volunteers. The eater here is one who lives at the edge of others' excesses.

3. The Emergence of the Food Waste Entrepreneur

Rescue, intercept, glean are some of the terms that are being employed for the more recent interventions into the curiously modern practice of creating food waste. Whether dumpster diver turned social entrepreneur, citizen making good, the food waste entrepreneur is re-making the restaurant business. The Real Junk Food Project / UK, Instock / Amsterdam, Spisehuset Rub & Stub / Copenhagen and Rude Food / Malmö are some examples.

Heres where we come to the story of Rude Food Malmö. I initiated Rude Food Malmö in September 2014 by inviting 3 friends from the civil society sector around a blueprint for a volunteer run, not-for-profit, food waste restaurant where excess is routed to relevant charities. Today we number upto 35 active volunteers who serve food waste brunch every Saturday and provide catering for anywhere from 20 to 400 eaters at a time. Rude Food lays claim to be Sweden's first food waste catering service and one of the few climate positive restaurants in the world.

Organic farms, supermarkets and bakeries provide their excess regularly to the Rude Food kitchen. Our menu is lacto-vegetarian and vegan. The restaurant kitchen infrastructure for the initiative was provided by my restaurant kitchen project Tapori Tiffins, a space I started in July 2013 to question the idea of the restaurant as a restaurant.

Why do we call our food waste catering service Rude Food? Food that has been ignored comes right back onto our plates. The Rude Food initiative is a socially innovative way to re-think the food on our plates.

And now to end with two recipes as a way to look back and a way forward at interventions into food waste as everyday practice.

Chorchori / Discarded Veggie Parts in Mustard Paste

/ Some classics never die

This recipe is from my childhood days in Kolkata, India. The Bengalis hate to throw away perfectly good food, instead opting to make a celebration with the supposedly discarded in their kitchen. So gather your organic cauliflower stems, carrot peel, spinach stems, pumpkin peel and aim to make this dish at the end of the week or whenever you have enough discarded veggie parts to cook yourself a meal.

Portion: For 2 moderate eaters

Time to prepare: 10 – 15 minutes

Eat with: Chapati / Flat bread or with Rice

Equipment required: Blender with a small jar or a coffee grinder

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp, mustard seeds

1 piece, potato, with the skin on of course, provided it is organic

2 cups, discarded veggies

1 piece, tomato

3 pieces, green chilli

1/2 tsp, turmeric powder

1/4 tsp, chilli powder

3 Tbsp, oil

salt to taste

1/4 tsp, organic brown sugar

(A) Boil together potato, tomato and discarded veggies in just enough water until al dente.

(B) Make a wet paste in a blender, of the mustard seeds and one green chili. Best to use a small blender jar if you have or a coffee grinder. You can also make a bigger amount of this paste and freeze it in portions.

(C) Heat oil in a wok, for an even spread of heat. Chop and fry the remaining green chillis.

(D) Add the boiled veggies.

(E) Add the powdered spices.

(F) Add salt + sugar.

(G) Add the mustard-chilli paste and cook till the water evaporates and you are left with a smooth thickness emanating from the pumpkin and potatoes.

(H) Ready to serve.

100% Raw Banana Ice Cream / Environmentally informed food innovation

Vegan and Gluten-free

So heres the deal with bananas. Spotty ones are better for us nutrition-wise than those deceptive bright yellow ones. The low shelf life of bananas means that they are the leading loss incurring product for supermarkets with some opting out of fair trade bananas. As conscientious consumers-cooks-eaters we need to get into our supermarkets and say, 'Gimme me my spotty banana! And make that a fair trade one while you're at it'

Our supermarket food waste partners at Rude Food rescued 70 kgs of bananas. As a food waste entrepreneur this should come as no surprise. As a food waste cook, the challenge is to make wonders out of a single ingredient. So for food waste brunch, we split the banana pile into half and made Caribbean Banana Curry (the recipe to which you will just have to wait out for when the Rude Food Cookbook gets out :) And the other half we made into Raw Banana Ice Cream. We're contemplating incubating Raw Banana Ice cream vendors this summer in Malmö. Do you want to be a food waste entrepreneur?

Time to prepare: 15 minutes of active doing by you. 8hrs + 2hrs of freezing time.

Equipment required: A pretty good blender or food processor

Ingredients:

Bananas!

Optional additions,

1 tsp, peanut butter per banana

or

1 tsp, raw cocoa, per banana

or

1/2 tsp, powdered fennel seeds per banana, if you're into that licorice fetish.

The bananas need to be peeled, chopped into bite size pieces and frozen for a good 6-8 hours at least. Remove from freezer and defrost at room temperature for upto 2 hours. Pop the semi-frozen pieces, adding your chosen flavour, in your blender. Give it a good whirr until you see creaminess taking shape in your blender. An ice cream miracle taking shape in front of your eyes. The pectin the banana gives it a good hold. No cream needed :)

Portion your 100% Raw Banana Ice Cream and refreeze for another 2 hrs at least.

Alternatively, the ice cream can be frozen and removed from the freezer at least 1.5 hrs before you intend to eat them.



Project brief for food waste packagingNews

Posted by Zeenath Tue, September 01, 2015 08:55:04

Dear engineering students assigned to the Rude Food packaging project,

I think back to our brief introduction session together earlier this week and I am both enthralled and apprehensive of the prospect ahead.

Enthralled due to your engaging and well thought questions. Apprehensive as some of you might feel that the set task is outside of the gambit of your current course.

After saying our goodbyes I went downstairs to lunch where I happened to be seated next to the Flextrus representatives. They heard about the assignment given to you and immediately offered their surplus packaging material. The cuts, seams and inlays that remain after moulding and forming at their packaging plant.

Could we one day walk into a supermarket where the shelves are full of surplus foods and carry away our groceries in containers made with packaging leftovers from Sweden's packaging houses? Perhaps a quick talk with the other groups will provide a possibility for a cross-group collaboration for your group assignment? Crowdsourced packaging?

Or stand in line for a catering where the plate was seamed together by a mix of various materials sourced from different plants?

You have been assigned to create a packaging concept for Rude Food Malmö. We describe ourselves as Sweden's first food waste catering service and restaurant. We make this claim as we make an intentional step to place food waste as a consumers' choice right there on the restaurant menu, on a supermarket shelf, on a bill of payment.

Your well thought questions will find more avenues for responses at this Reddit AMA session I conducted a few months ago and keep updating in lieu of an FAQ:
https://www.reddit.com/r/sweden/comments/30kuqp/how_to_make_a_food_waste_cafe/

You are most welcome and indeed expected to drop in to observe and participate in our project activities in Malmö. You can perhaps make a food rescue run along with some of the Rude Foodies here. Or get hands on with helping us handle the fresh and dry, raw and processed, surplus foods that pass through the Rude Food kitchen.

Each of you will have access to this blog. I hope you will use this blog as a diary to share your work process in public.

As promised, I shall pursue the exhibition of your final works at the GO! Malmö campaign in Malmö with Malmö Fairtrade City and Miljöförvaltningen.

Attached is a pdf of the presentation I gave at the introduction session.
And a copy of the project brief I drafted for your assignment.

The attached image is taken at 3am after rescuing foods on the last night of the Malmöfestivalen. It is a portion of the approximately 700kg of foods we rescued at the festival that week. Most of the food we redistributed to other non-profits. Some that we could use were kept in the kitchen. We made onion butter, onion pie, caramelized onion out of the 30kg of raw onions we saved. Tomato sauce from the 10kg oftomatoes you see in the photos and so on.

Hoping we will have the opportunity to share more stories.

Warm regards,
Zeenath
Founder Director
Rude Food MalmöBlog image