Food wastage is a political hot potato, as MEPs in July voted to halve food waste in the European Union by 2030, by lifting existing restrictions on food donations and eliminating confusion about ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels.
James Fitzgerald, a former journalist at both the Sunday Times and the Financial Times contacted the Findhorn Foundation to find out more about its approach to food wastage. The community uses several means to minimise its food waste. It uses a sign-up system and programme participant lists to calculate the amount of food to make each day for members and participants. The vast majority of leftover food is composted in the vegetable gardens. The gardens, meanwhile, sell any excess produce to the wider community to avoid raw food wastage.
Impressed by the joined up thinking of the Findhorn Community, Fitzgerald wrote about these initiatives in his article Food Is the Stuff of Life – Or Death for online newspaper Chief-Exec.com, essential reading for business leaders.
The article was the second most read article for July, reflecting public concern on this issue. According to the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation, each year consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222m tonnes) as the entire new food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230m tonnes)
The UK parliament’s report – Food Waste in the UK – published June 2017 highlighted that the average family each year spends £700 on food that is wasted, enough for a family holiday.
This is an issue that unites everyone from parliaments to local consumers. MSP Richard Lochhead, whose constituency covers the Findhorn Foundation, was cabinet secretary at the Scottish Parliament for the Environment from 2007 to 2016. He introduced food waste regulations, introducing collections from households and also latterly set Scotland’s first target for reducing food wastage to reduce it by a third by 2025. Despite his good work and its successful implementation, there is still more to do.
Locally, several of the Foundation’s partners are also implementing ways to cut down on food waste. The Findhorn Hinterland Trust has just received recognition from Permaculture Scotland for its Edible Woodland Garden. The garden is a pilot project to explore the potential for increasing perennial food sources and income generation for the local community, and is now designated as a ScotLAND (Learner), providing an ‘excellent demonstration of permaculture in action … and offering opportunities for learning’.
The Findhorn Foundation’s programmes offer ways to be a part of the change we need now. Have a look and register for our ecovillage and permaculture programmes.