Collectively, we throw away a lot of food.
To prove just how much food is being tossed prematurely, Canada-based filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer decided to survive on food waste for six months — that is, food destined for the trash or already in it.
The challenge was surprisingly easy. It also saved the couple a ton of money. By the end of the six month project, they had rescued over $20,000 worth of food and spent a scant $200 on groceries — about $30 a month.
Another unintended consequence: weight gain. With two months remaining in the challenge, Baldwin hopped on the scale. He had gained 10 pounds.
“I’m pretty sure that people think that we’re eating food scraps, scrapings off people’s plates,” Rustemeyer reflected during the project. “When I tell them about the project, I just get this weird look. If they could see the quality of the food that we find and the amount — we’ve been eating pretty well.”
Baldwin mused that his weight gain was due to “a combination of more processed food, but also just stuffing myself when we’ve got copious amounts of one thing,” he said. “The race is not trying to find food. It’s trying to not waste it again.”
One of the biggest surprises of the project was the pure volume of food they continued to find. “It’s been impossible to track how much we’ve found,” explained Baldwin. “Often when we find a pile of food [in a dumpster], we’re just looking at the top few inches — and it’s eight feet deep, so we don’t even know what’s down there.”
They brought home $13,000 worth of organic chocolate bars one day. Another day, they found a dumpster “the size of a small swimming pool” completely filled with hummus.
“Initially, I thought it must have all gone bad,” Baldwin said of the hummus jackpot. “When I looked at it, it had three and a half weeks left on the ‘best before’ date. I took three or four home. You can only eat so much hummus.”
Towards the end of the project, their shelves were overflowing to the point where they had to invite friends to ‘grocery shop’ at their house so they wouldn’t have to re-waste their wasted food.
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