Food Waste

Food Waste Spotlight: Matt Hammond (@anurbanharvester)

Today’s Food Waste Friday is a spotlight on Matt Hammond aka @anurbanharvester (Instagram) whom I’ve been following for awhile. The following are Matt’s responses to my food waste questions.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: My name is Matt Homewood. I’m 28, grew up in the UK, and have lived in Denmark for the last five years. As a major city, Copenhagen is nice place to live and is probably one of the world’s best cities for dumpster diving. It is also called the world’s “largest village”. Noise pollution though is still rife though, so once I have disrupted this food system a little, I plan to move onto the countryside in Southern Europe to grow the vast majority of my own food and escape the busy urban life that I have experienced the vast majority of my life.

Q: What are your thoughts on our current food waste situation?

A: Food waste is a complicated issue. I always try to split up the topic into two different sections. 

Firstly, citizens across the industrialized Global North are wasting a considerable amount of food every year. This is a great shame as people are literally throwing their own money out of the window. Does this allude to our significant separation from our food, as well as nature in general? Perhaps so. The other side to this major issue is the business side. At present, I focus predominantly on retailers’ food waste, which is a far more sinister phenomenon. Total retailers’ food waste is indeed lower than total citizens’ food waste but, when one looks at the issue from a “per actor” perspective, then the amount of food wasted per retail store becomes suddenly much larger. It is worth remembering that supermarkets are incredibly powerful businesses that are essentially wasting enormous amounts of food because they refuse to discount enough, nor early enough, on soon-to-be-expired foods. They want consumers to buy the maximum amount of items at full retail price, which makes sense given that they’re for-profit entities. The issue is that supermarket dumpsters across the West are packed daily. Economically, socially, environmentally, this is absolutely unacceptable.

Q: What role do you believe you can play in reducing people’s food waste?

A: I focus on the systemic issue of food waste at retailers and upstream from there (often mistakenly defined as “food loss”). The upstream “food loss” should never be called food loss as this silo thinking leads us to think that these issues are separate from one another, when in fact they are completely interconnected. This muddled thinking, led by the United Nations, is a major problem when dealing with the food waste epidemic. Now that I have set up my website, in time, I will be sharing far more resources to help folks cook from scratch at home using sound home economics. This food will be cheaper, healthier, and, most importantly, tastier.

Q: What do you suggest is the easiest action a person can make when i comes to reducing their food waste?

A: I think the best thing people can do to reduce their food waste is stop shopping at retailers. Start buying your foods from digital businesses, from Community Supported Agriculture Schemes, local farmers markets, perhaps grow a portion of your food in an allotment or your front yard (or a friend’s or family), basically, anything that doesn’t support the status quo. For many people though, this is not an option. So, I suggest saving your money from all conspicuous consumption activities, like take-out, which will mean that you can spend a little more on better quality foods, which may lead to better usage and storage. There is no denying though that far too many people are not being paid nearly enough and are overworked too. These are systemic issues that demand systemic political-economic solutions.

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