Student - January 26, 2018

Eat leftovers to fight food waste

Roelof Kleis

It’s a terrible waste to throw away good food. But what can you do with it? Give good food away, for example, to highlight the problem.

© Roelof Kleis

That’s what Vera van Engeland, Dennis Heupink, Max Koppenberg and Erik Engelbrecht did
during today’s lunch break in Forum. Not on a whim, however; the gesture was for their Master’s course Stewardship for Sustainable Innovation. Think of a way to focus attention on a current topic in a new manner.

The food displayed on the small table was not really a substitute for a lunch. Some cookies, a piece of cake, more cookies and carrot soup. The food was from their own kitchens and the neighbour’s. ‘In my house loads of food goes into the rubbish bin,’ Heupink confessed. He lives in a student house in Utrecht, where a lot of missionary work is needed.  

But being a missionary with a message isn’t easy, he’s found. ‘It’s hard to communicate the message. You don’t just tell someone that he shouldn’t throw away his food. They’ve paid for it and it’s their own choice to throw out the leftovers.’ In addition, the public at Forum already thinks in terms of sustainability. Staff and students generally finish their plates.

You do not just tell someone he shouldn't throw away his food
Dennis Heupink

However, consumers are responsible for half of all the food that is thrown away. The other half is lost earlier in supermarkets, canteens, restaurants, etc. or during production, storage or transport. One-third of all food disappears annually, which equates to an agricultural area as big as three-fourths of the Netherlands. The figures are from WUR, Van Engeland added.  

Sunday university
WUR researcher Toine Timmermans is the expert in food waste. On Sunday he will lecture on this topic in the public library in Wageningen in the framework of the Sunday university series. Timmermans will talk about the project that will start in Wageningen this year in which businesses, inhabitants and the municipal government will join to make the city a sort of living laboratory against food waste.

Meanwhile, the small table in Forum hasn’t really drawn a crowd despite Heupink’s homemade soup made from leftover carrots, curry pasta and onions. The accompanying message is clear: make your own leftovers meal. Get your housemates together, collect leftovers, think of a recipe and start to cook. Bon appétit.    

The lecture in the public library is on Sunday 28 January from 3-4 pm and is free of charge.