Smoothies in a storm

Young people go on a food rescue mission in Tottenham

By Poppy Flint and Mickey Reedy

Respect them smoothies


On a cold day in February young people from the borough took their first steps towards enterprising careers in food rescue. Six young adults from Project 2020 took up the challenge of serving smoothies in the snow at Tottenham Green Market on Sunday 11th February.

This marked the culmination of an Edible Enterprise programme hosted by Project 2020, in partnership with This is Rubbish (TiR), which works to reduce industry and supply chain food waste in the UK. Project 2020 exists to help local people who are currently unemployed, or not in education, gain the necessary skills and confidence to find training and job opportunities.

Fruit was rescued from local wholesale markets and donated by Sainsbury’s, instead of being thrown away, and was converted into delicious, nutritious smoothies.

I liked helping each other and the community

Tropical flavours were on the menu as hail fell from the sky, but market goers were undeterred and dozens of low-cost drinks were sold. The young people showed remarkable resilience and gained an opportunity to put their learning about food enterprise and the environment into practise.

One of the aspiring entrepreneurs who took part in the food waste challenge as part of Project 2020 told us: “I liked helping each other and the community.”

Tottenham Green Market promotes community by celebrating street food, crafts & vintage from the local area and beyond, each Sunday. The young people were granted a free pitch to trial their enterprise. Some said it was their favourite part of the programme and all of them learnt valuable skills.

Each year about one third of all food produced globally is wasted, translating to 1.3 billion tonnes. About half of this food never reaches the consumer. Many crops are left unharvested because they are too wonky or the wrong size. Research has shown that a leading supermarket threw away about 70% of bagged salads in 2016 and nearly half of all bakery items in previous years. These are shocking figures, but we know the young people of Tottenham will be doing their bit to reduce waste.

Over the course of the Edible Enterprise programme, the young people met entrepreneurs who started businesses around food surplus, such as the founder of Dash Water, which uses wonky fruit and vegetables to flavour their drinks. They also learned about healthy eating and cooking with vegetables.

One participant claimed: “The best thing was learning to cook with more vegetables and less meat.”

This is Rubbish CIC was started in 2011 by volunteers who used theatre and feasting to raise awareness of food waste. In 2014, many of the original ideas were brought together to form the basis of Edible Education, a programme for young people promoting active citizenship. The education team delivered interactive school workshops, assemblies and after school clubs tailored for diverse groups. They are currently working with young people from refugee backgrounds through partnerships with charities.

This is Rubbish likes to save food with a smile – they bring their unique Cirque de Surplus acts and activities to public spaces to spread the message about food waste. Watch out for a three legged carrot race or a giant salad toss at an event near you this summer.

Alongside the youth work and public engagement, This is Rubbish has been campaigning for legislation to reduce food waste.

Mickey Reedy from the organisation, said: “If the UK sets binding targets for reduction then big businesses will be accountable for their practices and the responsibility won’t fall solely to the consumer.

“People are becoming aware of the vast amount of food which goes unharvested, unsold, or uneaten, and they want to see a change. Government policies to reduce food waste could make a real environmental and social difference.”

This is Rubbish’s ‘Stop the Rot’ campaign gathered nearly a quarter of a million signatures and the work continues.

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