I like to cook and really like to bake bread. I like to eat and enjoy food together with friends and family. I look at food that something to gather around and something that makes us feel good and that makes us talk to eachother. But something disturbs me. We waste way to much food. Why? Because we don’t care? Because it’s a bit ”not so fresh” to bring a lunch box?
I’m doing this project to document. To make it really visible to myself and to you how much I waste and try to find out why. I’m a man around 40 years, living in Sweden with my wife and three kids. They say we waste 30-50% of our food. How much do I waste? I’m not sure were this project will take me. What it will make with me. I suppose I wont start dumpsterdiving (I’m not as radical as I sometimes wish I were). But I hope that it will make me spot some bad habits and make some of my mother and grand mothers smart kitchen hacks come alive again. It might be art. It might be an examination of sustainable living. We’ll see. Please follow if you like.
The project starts. I tried to do it last year. Will I manage this year? I sure hope so.
This project is quite uncomfortable and embarrassing. Documenting bad habits and showing the rest of the world. And yes that’s acually true fact that someone in lets say Somali could start following me. Seen with Swedish eyes I’m the average guy throwing some food. I don’t have to save it because I easily can buy new food in the supermarket or in the restaurant. But with somali eyes I suppose I’m quite rich and my waste probably seems really really absurd.
And the fact that my friends can see my waste. I don’t know how to describe it but lets say I’m not used to it.
I’ve come to realize that foodwaste has a lot to do with group pressure. Who you’re with while unsetting the table. Is it ok to make a lunchbox? Will someone think you’re stingy if you save the food left on the plates? What will people think when you save the dry bread to make breadcrumbs?
Keeping order is one key factor of not wasting food. And order is not my favourite sport. Sigh! I like when one day is different from the other. I don’t like following recepies more than once. I like to improvise and experiment. So setting a system is hard for me. I have to find other ways of dealing with this.
I’m already thinking about what my next project might be. ”Nice to see you again” is my working title. Cause there’s a lot of food being saved through this project. I slowly learn how to not waste food and instead making a new dish out of it. Bake bread from the leftover sourmilk and porridge. And I’ve started working with my attitude towards small leftovers and started mixing them up in my lunchboxes. I’m already known as the Smörgåsbord-man at the office.
More and more this project makes me think not only of my foodconsumption but also of all consumption. When something is cheap you tend to not value it as much. And in Sweden too much food is too cheap. You can throw it away. It’s not worth saving.
A few weeks ago me and my friends and our kids were hiking. Only for one night. We brought fresh milk and when we were leaving for home two litres were left and my friend called out ”I’m wasting this. All right?” I said no and told them avout my project and that I could carry them home to bake bread from them. Or I could turn them in to cheese.
That happened by accident the other day when I was going to heat some half sour milk for a pizza dough. The milk separated into cheese. I was surprised. Put some salt on it and then put it on the pizza instead, as an experiment. And it tasted good.
I suppose this was the way my grandmother and father did all the time. Caring for all parts of the produce. Being the one that breeds the sheep will fill you with respect and will affect the way you treat the meat. And being the one that waters the tomato plant all summer long makes it harder to thorow away a tomato thats been torned. But today most of us are are far away from the production and that makes us less understanding and less caretaking.
This thing with food. And consumption. It makes me sick. I’m really so tired of the whole thing. I want to consume as little as possible. Yet everything around me shouts ”Consume me”. What to do. Change surroundings? Or change the surroundings?
The project is coming to an end. December and then no more documentation. What has this project done with me? What have I seen and what have I learned?
So far it’s been both annoying and interesting. Annoying because I’ve had to stop and take a photo. That have forced me to think. I’ve realized that so much of foodwaste has to do with bad habits and habits sure take time to change. Interesting because my conclusion is that I don´t waste as much as 30%, as I’ve read. And I’ve changed and become better in saving, reusing and keeping order. And talking of order, that’s my biggest issue. I really have to work on that.
One big thing is how to avoid a conflict in caring for food and avoiding foodwaste and yet being a generous host. I want to be able to invite many friends and hold great parties but I dont want to make so much, or that kind of food, that I have to waste.
But what’s my next step? This project has only been focusing on my own foodwaste. Shall I try to affect my surroundings in any way? I’ve been thinking of projects documenting restaurants and supermarkets. How can we make them change? The work has begun at many supermarkets but the restaurants, what are they doing?
About 120 people are following my foodwaste and that’s overwhelming. Thanks to all of you.