The 18th of October, FoodWIN and WOW Food set up a dynamic workshop commissioned by SPEK (Student Platform Entrepreneurship Kortrijk). The aim of the event was to show a group of 15 students in Kortrijk the value of rescuing food. As an intern in FoodWIN, I (Piero) also participated in the event and I want to share with you its outcomes and some thoughts about the importance of such events.
It is well known that a lot of food is destined to be wasted everyday for many complex reasons. However, in Kortrijk we definitely showed that with some creativity, most of the food can be rescued and transformed into many dishes. And damn, it was delicious!
Rescuing the food was the first priority to organise the workshop. For this purpose, Elke from FoodWIN asked to various supermarkets and small retailers of Brussels and Kortrijk to save their food surplus for us. Everything they couldn’t sell anymore but was still edible, we gathered the day of the event.
The event took place in a student housing at the campus of the catholic hogeschool of Kortrijk. We have been welcomed by Roos, an enthusiastic lady who hosted us and inspired her students to join.
The event consisted of two parts: an introduction of the entrepreneurial value of food waste and a cooking workshop.
First, the students got to know the hosts of the event. FoodWIN and WOW Food briefly introduced their organisations and shared their values and strategies to tackle food waste. The students were teamed up and chose different ingredients from the rescued food to create their own special recipes.
For the cooking phase, the help of Gaetan and Ruby from WOW Food has been very important. They shared their expertise and gave advice on the preparation of the plates. For example, they taught us some tricks on how to recognise if products are safe. Did you know that food packaging tells you a lot about the real freshness of the food? Think of those pre-cut vegetables, or milk boxes. If it is passed date, but not blown up, it is probably still good. However, if the package blows up, there might be some bacterial party going on you don’t want to be a part of. Moreover, you should always check if the date that has been passed is “best before” or “expiry date”. In case it is the “best before” the food is still safe. When the date is passed, it doesn’t mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture. For the expiry date we should be more careful. In the end, it is most important to trust your own senses. What you taste and smell as still fresh, might be off for someone else. It’s all about your body and how you react to the ripening process. Personally, they also made me aware to always check the brown spots on the cauliflower, which are potentially harmful.
Moreover, they gave us some tips on how to cook with ingredients we usually classify as unavoidable food waste. Did you know that you can make a very nice vegan bechamel cream from the cauliflower stem? When I tried it I couldn’t believe there were no dairy products in it.
With all these useful insights in mind we were ready to start cooking. We thought out of the box and made some very creative dishes. For example, we prepared fried sweet potatoes with a ginger sauce, vegetable stew, a puree of red beetroots with potatoes and also an oven-baked dessert using our brown bananas and rescued chocolate mousse.
The workshop was a success. A delicious dinner had been served and a lot of perfectly edible food products had been rescued from the tragic destiny of the dumpster. The atmosphere that such an event is able to create is incredible. It combines the joy of eating together and doing an activity that has a positive environmental and economic impact: rescuing food. On top of that, the students learned that food waste offers several entrepreneurial opportunities. I’m sure that more activities involving future generations are needed to redirect the trajectories of our food system that too often neglects the problem of food waste.
BE CREATIVE, SAVE FOOD!