How we Helped a Head of Lettuce to Fulfill its Destiny

He is happy without money, lives off consumer society’s leftovers and dedicates himself to rescuing vegetables from the bin. More and more people come across Raphael Fellmer and his FoodSharing idea. Share your food instead of throwing it away! Is the credo of the online- platform, which gives producers, traders and people like you and me the chance to offer and collect excess groceries.

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It is European week for waste reduction – and Fellmer is not the only one who is convinced that life forms deserve more appreciation for growing and satisfying our hunger. On Monday, Raphael Fellmer, Lebensmittelretter, Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg and BioCompany come together at Contemporary Food Lab in order to experience food sharing first-hand. The idea conquered the hearts of a very mixed crowd, it soon become clear. Besides members of  community garden himmelbeet in Wedding and many journalists, Dr. Marie- Louise Dittmar of the Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft joins in to learn more about the grassroots idea.

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Stiftung Mehrweg and foodsharing e.V. invite us to join today’s mission: Honour food by saving them from the bin, preparing and eating it. First stop is the BioCompany at Brunnenstraße, longstanding partner of foodsharing. Georg Kaiser, manager of the Company, welcomes us and tells us why he appreciates the cooperation with FoodSharing: “When I was little, we never used to throw away food at home – so I am glad that thanks to our cooperation, we can avoid lots of food waste.”

Also in Clemens Stroetmann’s family, food waste hardly ever occurs. However, instead of saving lettuce heads, bananas and carrots from bins, he and his Stiftung Mehrweg start one step ahead: Transport. Already during the long journey, fruits and vegetables are cramped into frail boxes and get damaged. Stiftung Mehrweg thinks we can do better: Multi-way boxes are not only reusable, but also more stable! Fraunhofer Institut confirms: 34 out of 35 damages can be avoided through choice of packaging.

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Heavily loaded with reusable boxes full of bread, salad and vegetables not fit for sale, we make our way back to Contemporary Food Lab. The grey, rainy weather does not seem to affect our mood. On the contrary: A community feeling starts to grow amidst the group. Saving food welds us together, it seems! Thanks to many helping hands and Sabrina Warning, cook at Katz Orange and Contemporary Food Lab, a delicious 3-course menu is soon improvised: Avocado cream and salad as a starter, followed by hearty, roasted vegetables. As dessert, we are spoiled with Yogurt with fresh fruit and pomegranate- topping.

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In gleeful anticipation, we sit down at the colorful table, which perfectly matches our mood. Already the first course is filled with light- green freshness and a culinary adventure. It might be that it flatters our palates even more – for we know that without our intervention, this richness would have gone to waste. An afternoon colored by exuberance, crisp salad and appreciation builds a stark contrast to the picture that would have been drawn otherwise: A sad lettuce head, which, bit by bit, looses its life- affirming vitality in a stuffy waste bin.

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Many might see Fellmer’s idea of a life without money as a bit on the extreme side. At the end of this Monday however, we all agree on one point: Saving food is fun and leaves behind an incredibly positive and connecting feeling. The week for waste reduction comes to an end – but for many participants, it surely was not the last visit to a supermarket storage room. Everyone can become a food saver, and it seems that more and more will. For more community, happiness and culinary creativity! And all that for free.

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