In the video “The Danish recipe to cut food waste” on CNN, they said that about one third of all produced food around the world ends up either lost or wasted. This fact in itself is shocking but when you add that all that food wasted is enough to feed three million people and that only about 1 million people are starving, it becomes clear that food waste and food justice are major issues that are not being dealt with efficiently. Due to this, it is easy to appreciate companies like FoodSharing Copenhagen and to understand that the work they are doing is extremely important. FoodSharing Copenhagen’s main goal is to work towards “a world where food is valued and is used to nourish people and bring them together, where foodsharing is part of our natural behaviour locally and globally, and to provide everyone (individuals, communities and businesses) with knowledge, tools and power to act, care and share/donate food, without any compromise.” This message comes directly from their website. We got the opportunity to work with FoodSharing as volunteers helping to set up and give out free food that would be wasted without this company.
I knew we would be working with a food volunteering company on our study abroad but did not know exactly what we would be doing or anything about the company we were working for. The most surprising thing about our volunteer experience for me personally is the kind of food they had and the type of people that came to pick up the food. The type of food we unloaded from the trucks and handed out was way better than what I expected. When I imagined handing out food that was close to being wasted I could never have imagined how much they got and all the amazing quality produce and bread they had. There were tons of great fruits and vegetables and a big variety of both. The type of people that came were also surprising. I have worked at a food bank back in the United States and the people that came there were clearly in poverty. Here in Copenhagen when we served, most of the people seemed pretty well off and were not in dire need of this food. I think this speaks to the difference in volunteer culture within the United States and Denmark because in the United States you need to prove your need in order to receive help whereas here everyone is in much more equal standing financially so there is not a pressing need for charity.
The worst part about our volunteering experience was definitely dealing with the rotten and moldy fruits and vegetables. It was pretty disgusting, but the good part is that there was not that much of it. The part that I enjoyed the most was getting to actually hand out the food and see the people we were giving it to. I have always enjoyed volunteering and the part I like best is working together with people towards common goal. It really unites people and gives you a feeling of connection that is unlike any other. I learned about all the different types of produce Denmark had. In my mind I saw Denmark as this tiny island so I did not think they would have access to such tropical items like mangos. During the volunteering, I did not feel like an outsider at all. I felt connected and involved. We had a clear task to accomplish and I think we did so successfully. I think I might have felt feelings of isolation if I was unsure what to do or if I felt I could really play a role in the event, but neither of these facts were true.
The New Nordic food movement revolves around “the principles of purity, animal welfare, and sustainability” according to the Schroeder and Schroeder article. I believe that these ideas directly align with the idea of foodsharing. This makes this volunteering event connect with a key concept we have been discussing throughout our class and connects with the major theme we have been talking about: sustainability. I think the concepts of food justice and food sustainability are also connected. I think this experience has really opened my eyes to just a huge an issue food waste is and how there are many ways that we can combat this that we just are not doing. I think the United States is an especially wasteful country and that there will be serious consequences if we do not start working on cutting down food waste right away. Overall, I had a great time volunteering and thought it was a really rewarding experience.