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‘Rescued’ food feeds hundreds in Vancouver

By Stefania Seccia

From left to right: Organizer Elaine Cheng, volunteer Yubai Liu, and filmmaker Jen Rustemeyer at the Feed 5000 event on May 27 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
(Stefania Seccia, 24 hours)

From left to right: Organizer Elaine Cheng, volunteer Yubai Liu, and filmmaker Jen Rustemeyer at the Feed 5000 event on May 27 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Stefania Seccia, 24 hours)

In an effort to prove a delicious meal can be cooked with food that isn’t totally fresh, a grassroots coalition of volunteers and organizations got together at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Wednesday and served up 5,500 meals for free.

The goal was to surprise people with how delicious food can be despite being past its best before date or frozen for a long period of time to curb the high rate of food waste in the Lower Mainland, according to Chef Don Guthro.

Guthro said since Sunday, he’s spent three sleepless days and nights coordinating a menu as he waited for the food he “rescued” through wholesalers.

“We waste way too much food and throw way too much out,” he said. “Food has value, and I think people don’t understand what value is.”

Guthro, who founded the tuition-free, culinary training program North Shore Culinary School for underprivileged and at-risk people , said the food served would have been wasted because it was hitting its peak freshness to soon to sell to restaurants and grocery stores.

The menu included beef sliders, vegetarian spring rolls, tofu stuffed with ground beef and chocolate banana pudding, among others.

About 40% of food production across the country is wasted and 48% of that is at the consumer level, according to event organizer Jennifer Rustemeyer, who produced the award-winning documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story.

Rustemeyer said because the problem is at the consumer level it’s one issue that individuals have the power to change themselves.

Elaine Cheng, one of the event organizers, said the initiative first started in London, U.K. in 2009 and the free lunch in Vancouver marks the first one of its kind in Canada.

For more information, visit feed5kvancouver.com.

 

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