Feeding 5000: A Zero Food Waste Thanksgiving

09/30/2017 07:40 am ET Updated Oct 03, 2017

This thanksgiving weekend, join thousands at “Feeding 5000” as they feast on food that would otherwise be wasted.

Feeding 5000 volunteers
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Feeding 5000 volunteers

What’s better on thanksgiving than a delicious turkey and pumpkin pie? Hint: No, the answer is not stuffing and mash potatoes.

Considering that Canada wastes approximately 31 billion dollar’s worth of food annually, the best thanksgiving gift (even better than a turkey, one might argue) would be to ensure that perfectly edible nutritious and delicious food does not go to waste.

Saving food from waste is exactly what will happen at Feeding 5000, Toronto’s first zero food waste thanksgiving feast for 5000 people. In partnership with Feedback (a group founded by the renowned food waste author Tristram Stuart), the Toronto Design Exchange, and leading movers and shakers of the Toronto food scene (Food Network Star Bob Blumer, Second Harvest, George Brown College, Toronto Food Policy Council, New College, Food Systems Lab, and Food Banks Canada), on October 8th, thousands of people will partake in Toronto’s largest celebration to fight food waste at the EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology.

On Sunday, the public will have the opportunity to “gobble” delicious food made by famed Canadian Chef Joshna Maharaj from thousands of kilograms of fresh food that would have otherwise been wasted (mostly due to aesthetic reasons). Think of your knobbly carrots, or the misshapen potatoes, all perfectly delicious but most often wasted because they didn’t make the supermarket grade.

Disco soup, part of the Feeding 5000 event
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Disco soup, part of the Feeding 5000 event

There will also be fun activities such as a workshop on vermicomposting, cooking demos on food waste prevention, competitions, and games such as the ugly fruits “twister”. Toronto will join London, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, New York, Calgary and other cities that have hosted a Feeding 5000 event in putting food waste on the top of their policy agenda.

As the Canadian federal government is in the process of developing a national food policy, tackling food waste is a key priority in becoming more environmentally sustainable. After all, food waste creates unnecessary “gravy” (pardon the pun) and occurs at every level of the food supply chain. Therefore, reducing food waste means more money in the hands of people that grow our food and more in our own pockets.

A 2014 study estimates that 47% of food waste occurs at the household level. This is quite a staggering number when you think about the fact that Thanksgiving is a day celebrating abundance. So much is the abundance that the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that our neighbours in America will dispose of approximately 200 million pounds of Turkey during their Thanksgiving holiday. What a waste!

Americans will toss a whopping $282 million of uneaten turkey into the trash this Thanksgiving, contributing to the $165 billion in uneaten food Americans waste every year. - Dana Gunders, Natural Resources Defense Council

Toronto households on average throw away about 223 kg of food per year at home, of which about 62% could have been eaten. Approximately half of the edible food waste are fruits and vegetables. That’s a huge waste of energy, water, land and labour! This massive food waste is even more shocking considering that approximately one in eight households in the city experience food insecurity.

Canadians need to move fast to catch up on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of cutting global food waste in half by 2030. This thanksgiving, loosen your belt, whet your appetite, and take part in the fight against food waste with a free delicious feast at Feeding 5000.

Now that’s something we can definitely be thankful for!

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