Back in May last year I introduced you all to OzHarvest, the brilliant non-denominational charity which rescues excess food that would otherwise be thrown out and wasted. OzHarvest takes this discarded food and distributes it among the needier members of our community, thus turning excess food into a resource and saving thousands of kilograms of food from being dumped as landfill each year.
As part of their ongoing campaign to educate the public on food waste and to spread the word on the work they do, OzHarvest last week hosted a lively discussion panel of Adelaide food professionals with their very special guest, Richard Fox. Fox is a popular UK chef, food and beer writer and active supporter of the UK Love Food Hate Waste campaign which aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste . Richard is clearly passionate about his subject, spending a great deal of his time these days teaching the Brits to love their spotty fruit and veg, ignore use-by dates and save on grocery bills and garbage landfill.
The panel included the irrepressible Ronni Khan, founder of OzHarvest, Carl Partridge, the new CEO of the Adelaide Central Market Authority, well-known ethical meat producer Richard Gunner, Adelaide forager and head chef at Penfolds Magill Estate, Jock Zonfrillo and was chaired by Dirty Girl Kitchen’s Rebecca Sullivan.
The panel discussion addressed the major contemporary issue of food waste, looking at some of the reasons why it occurs and how we can be more vigilant about it in our homes. Carl spoke of the advantages of buying fresh, seasonal produce as you need it, rather than doing a big weekly shop. Many who do the one weekly food shopping trip end up throwing things out as their week develops and plans change. These same people often do their shopping in large supermarkets, paying little attention to the freshness of the produce they purchase prewrapped on it’s foam tray, but perversely becoming more concerned about this lack of freshness once it is in their own fridge at home. Shopping a little more frequently – even once or twice more in a week – and at a market prevents this problem. Buying fresh product means the consumer has the opportunity to buy exactly what they want, in the quantities they want and, when shopping for food that will be prepared in the short term, one also has the opportunity to purchase things at a reduced cost that are nutritionally sound but might otherwise spoil – over-ripe tomatoes or salad greens that are just past their prime.
Richard Gunner is a well-known proponent of nose-to-tail eating and spoke of both the waste of perfectly edible food when offal is disregarded as part of our menu and the disrespect of the life of the beasts that are slaughtered for our food. As a beef producer he cares about the animals he raises and is concerned about a society which could be said to see their lives as disposable. Jock Zonfrillo loves nothing more than teaching his staff the joys of foraging about in the undergrowth. There is a great deal of food growing wild in our immediate surrounds that we seem to have lost contact with. Salad greens and vegetables don’t have to come to us in a sealed plastic bag and he is keen to see more of us learn about the native foods which are under our feet. To that end we were served a stunningly beautiful and tasty salad of freshly foraged plants and flowers.
OzHarvest founder, Ronni Khan, is more like a force of nature than anything else and her passion is worn loud and proud on her sleeve. Since she launched in Adelaide, OzHarvest Adelaide has now rescued more than 550,000 meals, which is the equivalent of 160,000 kg of good food and which has saved 260 tonnes co2-e greenhouse gas emissions. This food now comes from more than 230 local food donors, is delivered to 40 different Adelaide charities and nationally OzHarvest has rescued 15 million meals in 8 years. Astonishing work indeed!
If food wastage, environmental concerns or food security are of concern to you, you can be a part of this remarkable program and help to make a difference. You can donate your time, food or money to OzHarvest – just check out the links here. You can also share the love with family and friends this Christmas by purchasing The OzHarvest Cookbook. This gorgeous publication uncovers our top chefs’ secrets for using leftovers and is a who’s who of the Australian cooking scene including Maggie Beer, George Calombaris, Peter Gilmore, Bill Granger and Neil Perry. All proceeds from the book will go to OzHarvest. The book will be out in mid-November, but can be ordered right now here.