Sharing an Attitude of Plenitude: Feeding the 5,000 Vancouver

This morning I had the opportunity to don a mighty-fine green shirt of the volunteer as Vancouver played host to Feeding the 5000, a global initiative of Feedbackglobal.org which “shines a light on the global food waste scandal, champions the delicious solutions and catalyses the global movement against food waste.” Gathered around Vancouver Art Gallery Square, community members and a healthy smattering of tourists shared a communal feast of 5,000 servings of gourmet-grade dishes lovingly and speedily prepared by The North Shore Culinary School. Such tasty treats included tofu puff profiteroles with mango pudding sauce and crispy spring rolls.

Feed5k Van City is a grassroots-led group of individuals and organizations banded together with the common aim to raise awareness of astronomical amounts of food wasted with estimates coming in at over a third of food produced in the Lower Mainland. This matches up with the 40% figure highlighting the travesty that is food wastage in so-called wealthy nations. For anyone who’s visited the vital resource that are local food banks, farm-to-table type projects like Farm to Foodbank or low-cost grocer fixtures like Quest Not-for-Profit, providing nourishing food with a sense of community is paramount. As recent documentaries and reports shed light on the escalating parallel crises of food waste and “want for food” strain linked to greedy growth mentality, economic fallouts, subsequent austerity measures, and mounting inequality, it is not enough to attempt to provide individual-focused interventions and patchwork services for what is a socio-cultural systemic issue. All the more reason to get creative in solution-seeking and realistic in scale and scope of impact. Here, central organizing committees, citizen-led policy-change campaigns, and good old fashioned accountability might prove useful. I know that in Berlin, Germany, Foodsharing.de serves as an online hub for related activities around, well, food sharing and rescuing.

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just eat it

Photo courtesy of Just Eat It – A Food Waste Story

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Breaking bread together gave participants the chance to engage in deeper cross-cutting conversations about collective responsibility and doing what’s just and right. Speaking with a variety of folks, it was clear that the concepts of interconnectedness and sustainable consumption seem to be on everyone’s lips. Who doesn’t love to eat? Who wouldn’t like to live harmoniously? A a lovely woman Rita exclaimed, “people need to stop being slaves to the label and best before date” calling upon individuals to be wise, educate one another, and simply discard the portions of produce that are no longer alright to eat and making something out of the rest. She further recalled with disdain the wastefulness of some big-chain grocers who throw away masses of food, locking up their bins to prevent potential litigation while people are locked out from their basic right to food. Others provided tips in preserving and stretching food as well as dollars. As one local sustainability leader from Surrey explained the usefulness and nutritional value of radish tops and other greens, she suggested drying them and then grinding into a powder for easy addition to soups or smoothies. It reminded me of helping out at Food Not Bombs in LA, Homeless Veggie Dinner in Berlin, and Sprouts Community Eats at UBC where community members can choose either to enjoy a decent meal in solitude or communicate with one another, chatting politics and joking about over nutrient-dense eats.

Pioneering groups like Farm to Foodbank, Quest not-for-profit, the Zero waste campaign, and Council for Canadians, to name but a few, were seen sowing the seeds of lively conversation among the feeding thankful and curious faces. What was most heartening for me was people’s desire to engage in deeper conversations around what mindful consumption and accountability in environmental and social justice means personally. There is a vast storehouse of experiences, knowledge, and wisdom waiting to be tapped that can contribute to an emerging international narrative of different forms of ethical lifestyles and public policy. Moreover, with France recently paving the way in legislating against market wastage of food, events like these proffer the chance for the Lower Mainland and other communities to band together, bringing a host of ethical practices to the mainstream. I cannot wait to see what comes of this Feed5k event and future iterations (fingers crossed). Well done team.

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preparing recovered food

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veg arrangement

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