Hungry for Food Waste?

hungry for food wasteThis course is organised by Boerengroep, RUW, WEP, Green Office, ILEIA, Rural Sociology Group.

The “Hungry for food waste” course is half way in terms of lectures. Time to check the balance. Each evening we have been moving to a different room to accommodate the growing number of students, yesterday evening we counted 100 students. That shows food waste is hot and students are hungry to discuss it. The course approaches the topic from a multidisciplinary way, which suits the audience very well: nearly all Bachelor and Master programmes of Wageningen University are represented in the audience of students. A short overview of the evenings so far and what to expect.

Last week on Tuesday 28th of October, the new course ‘Hungry for Food waste” was kicked off with a dinner made with ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste. The dinner was attended by 30 students and 2 speakers, who were very thankful to Humble Harvest for investing their time and energy in collecting the ingredients from the farmers, cooking the meal and delivering it to the Leeuwenborch.

This first evening was devoted to distribution. For this course we discuss food waste generated at different levels in the food chain. Logically, you start with production: how farmers (are forced by powers higher up in the chain to) produce food waste at the farm level. However, due to practical reasons, we started with distribution. We invited Han Soethoudt (FBR) and Drees Peter van den Bosch (Willem&Drees). Their presentations were very inspiring in resulted in good discussions about what is actually considered food waste and how is to blame? The course divides the evenings into nodes in the chain, but in reality these parts are interconnected and interdependent. What a farmer does is directly related to how it is distributed, to how the supermarket is organised to what the consumer demands.

Back to production on the second evening. Jan-Douwe van der Ploeg (Rural Sociology) introduced the students into the debate on peasant farming and how certain farmers are locked into a system where they are volatile to generating more waste. André Jurrius, an organic farmer close to Wageningen, then took over and presented the dilemmas he is faced with daily on his farm. Like every evening, the rest of the evening was easily filled with all the questions raised by the students.

The third evening was devoted to retailing with presentations by René Haijema (ORL), Onno Franse (Ahold) and Chantal Engelen (Kromkommer). We invited Stefano Pascucci to be our keynote listener but the students were so full of energy to comment on the presentations and criticise the speakers, that there was too little time to go in-depth. We had to stop the discussion with about 25 arms raised in the air. Hopefully, the questions will be kept for this Thursday when we continue.

Students aiming to collect 3 ECTS with this course, will start shooting a documentary on food waste next week, when we have the first workshop on ‘How to shoot a short documentary? ‘ by What to Film Wageningen (Emil Kuijs). Furthermore, these students will keep a personal food waste diary, based on pictures taken during the first 6 weeks of the course. What impact do the lectures have on your own food waste behaviour, how critical are you? On the 17th of December the documentaries will be shown.

Are you inspired and want to join? There are still 2 evenings to come that are open to the public. Thursday 6 November we will talk about consumers and the efforts made to reduce waste at consumer level. It is often said that the big gains are to made at that level. Hilke-Bos Brouwer (FBR) will introduce us to the project ‘Food Battle’ and Wageningen Municipality shows are food waste is combatted at city level. Tuesday 11 November is the last evening and we will bring things together by closing the cycle. How do nutrients come back into the chain? How does waste create input for food? What is the role of policies to stimulate unwasteful practices? Jeroen Candel will touch upon the political & policy dilemmas, while Theo de Vries of Capuchinha Catering will talk about how a restaurant chef deals with food waste and how he closes the cycle. Finally, we will have a presentation by Stephen Sherwood who started an inspring initiative in Ecuador called ”250 thousand families! Ecuador’s agroecology collective’s campaign for closing the loop between production-consumption”.

For more information, go to the Facebook group on ‘Hungry for food waste’. Hope to see you one of these evenings!