Food Waste in Copenhagen

Never before this program had I ever been part of a foodsharing experience. Besides the short video on some of the people involved with foodshare Copenhagen I truly had no idea what I was getting in to. The concept sounded simple enough, leftover food somehow needed to be shared amongst the people of Copenhagen, but the execution of this plan was what surprised me the most. Our first day of volunteering we were not in the nicest area being that the jazz fest was going on and the outdoor area was taken, and we were able to set up in the community center upstairs. My fist impressions differed from what the video led me to believe definitely. What I almost immediately began to notice was that this was not as well run, and efficient as the video made me believe it would be. With no real chain of command and a lack of leadership the volunteers including the students like myself often needed to take the initiative with the cleaning of tables, setting up of trash bags, cleaning of food boxes, etc. Usually the “veteran” volunteers had to guide us with specifics on what to do.

I thought it was a shame initially that such a good idea that really benefited the community had such poor execution. But then I considered how these people that are running the program are learning as they go much as we were. On our first day volunteering actually one of the new obstacles they were facing was getting certified to be able to continue what they are doing. I think before I had began helping with the program I had anticipated it would have been much more streamlined, and it was surprising that even after their weeks and weeks of doing this they still had much to learn. One of the best things I think I was able to get out of working with this program was not only the vast amount of produce to bring back to our kitchen, but to see the good that foodsharing could do for people back home. Denmark like the US has a variety of food it produces, and also wastes, and to see their own efforts to cut back on waste is inspiring, and definitely something we could learn from. Seeing from the article The Danish Recipe to Cut Food Waste that they were able to cut food waste by 25 percent is honestly astonishing. Granted Denmark is a much smaller country than the United States and making that big of an improvement in food waste would be much harder. However the message proposed in the video by Selina Juul could definitely apply.

When I was able to bring home produce without having to use money of my own to get it I felt like this allowed me much more freedom to experiment in the kitchen. Like my interviewee Emil said, Americans are not very affluent at cooking at home, and even on this trip alone I have expanded greatly on the type of food I am capable of cooking at home. Part of the issue with college students and their cooking skills is that when they leave the home they are abruptly placed in situations where they either do not have a kitchen in their living situation, usually dorms, or they are not familiar with how to actually shop for their own food because their parents had done that their entire lives before they left the house. On top of this with “meal plans” that colleges provide for their variety of fast food companies that they house on campus usually, students are not inclined to cook for themselves when they can swipe their cards and be handed Panda Express almost instantaneously. The article The Food Movement, Rising goes into detail on why Americans have been relying on fast food, and it does no good for the student in my opinion to be so reliant on fast food caterers for their meals while at school.

Truthfully I think the foodshare program would be perfect to implement into college life. While students may be busy during the week with school, I think they could greatly benefit from the sense of community you get from helping others with their food, while also being able to save some money and get food for themselves. As I said earlier when there is food readily available literally for free, you feel more inclined to try to experiment, and learn how to cook with it. If students could spend maybe a couple of hours on Saturday helping their other students while also getting some free food the benefits would be huge. Shane from foodsharing on our first day explained that even with the massive amount of food they collect with their vans, they only save about 10 percent of all food that is being thrown out. That number to me was amazing simply because we had filled this one room to the brim with fruits, vegetables, bread, etc. everything that could make our own grocery store. If I have the time when I return home I would want to look in to how this foodsharing could be implemented in partnership through the school. For one in California we have such a variety of food found at our supermarkets that I am sure a massive amount of it never comes to the table. Secondly, with a partnership with the school the facilities that go unused on campus could easily be used for hosting the food events.

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