Feeding London with supermarket surplus

February 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm / by

Today I went to visit FareShare in my role as a trustee for the WFSouthall Trust, and was blown away by how brilliant they are. It’s the most simple idea – a charity that takes the surplus food from the supermarket supply chain, and redistributes it to centres and shelters across Britain. As well as the Bermondsey depot I went to there are another 13 depots across the country, between them delivering to 600 charities, all saving food that otherwise would go straight from the factory to the landfill. Literally directly from the factory to the landfill – this, miserably, is how the food production system operates.

18 tonnes of brioche

FareShare told me about a supplier who called up to offer them 18 tonnes of brioche, for example. Brioche is about the lightest food I can think of – imagine what 18 tonnes of brioche looks like! Enough, I’m guessing, to make me cry. How does anyone in this ridiculous world find themselves with a spare 18 tonnes of brioche? There’s something badly wrong with the way we deal with food (and you can’t just blame it on big business – the waste in the supply chain is still less than the amount of food that makes it all the way to the consumer’s house before finally being thrown away, by badly organised individuals like me, often taken in by buy-one-get-one-frees).
There is something badly wrong, but at least FareShare are making something very good out of a bad situation.

*You instantly get to feel how urgent the mission is when you see a whole crate of perfect M&S sole fillets. Not just any sole fillets. Think of the madness of sucking these fish out of the overfished waters, driving them about, sealing them in individual plastic trays, driving them about a bit more, keeping them cold the whole time, and then – were it not for FareShare – pouring them, plastic and all, into a hole in the ground.


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