Plate not Waste

19 Nov 2014

Every year, enormous amounts of healthy and nutritious food are wasted – at every step in the food chain from farm to table. This is symptomatic of a non-sustainable food system in which natural products are assessed by industrial standards, skills and knowledge regarding food are disappearing, and the waste of food in the global north is causing hunger and poverty in other parts of the world.


In order to raise peoples’ awareness of this problem from an early age, Slow Food Germany launched the school project “Teller statt Tonne“ (Plate not waste) in collaboration with the development NGO, Brot für die Welt-Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst. The project builds on experiences from an existing campaign against food waste (with the same name) that Slow Food Germany has been running since 2011.


The concrete tools being used include a card game that playfully informs participants about how to grow, store and use different vegetables; a personal food profile; and games that investigate the production chain of different foods. With colorful learning tools such as these, students are not only encouraged to explore the world of food, but also to better understand the global dimension of the food system and the connection between food waste, hunger and poverty. Teachers can also participate in workshops to learn more about the issue.


A field trip to a local organic farm provides young people with a more hands-on experience. During the excursion, students harvest fruit and vegetables that cannot be sold to shops, as they don’t comply with standard marketing requirements or customer preferences. Following the harvest, students and teachers cook a meal together using the food they have collected. This activity provides an opportunity to critically assess standard marketing practices. The experience also makes the problem of food waste more tangible while showing that it is simple, possible (and fun!) to take action against it.


The school project intends to harness this motivational power to encourage children of all ages to take responsibility for their own actions – in the local as well as the global food system – and hopefully inspire their families to do the same.


During the pilot phase of the project in 2013, the participating students showed great enthusiasm for both the harvest and the other small duties on the farms. They also asked the hosting farmers many questions, for example: Why are a cow’s horns tilted? Are all calves slaughtered and at what age? Who is the “boss” of the farm? Why does the baker have to throw out bread? Why do some carrots have two legs?


The cooking and eating activities also led to lively discussions on how to buy and use food more sustainably.


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