Preventing food waste
2019-02-26 | By Olivia Van Den Broek-Neri
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted, but there are ways you can help. This article shares tips from three different people who are working to prevent food waste in the Netherlands.
August de Vocht
Founder, NoFoodWasted App
“Awareness is the first thing in preventing food waste,” said August de Vocht. In the past, August used to purchase items at the grocery store that were discounted due to an upcoming expiration date and thought that others would too. However, he said “they were just there with a sticker and no one else knew.” This inspired the NoFoodWasted App which allows people to see which products are discounted due to their upcoming expiration date.
The app has since expanded to include restaurants that prepare meals using ingredients that will go bad soon. The consumer can view and purchase these featured meals on the app and then pick them up at the restaurant. Everyone wins: the consumer gets to enjoy a meal at a lower price, and the restaurants and grocery stores have less waste and a higher margin. “Together we are fighting food waste,” de Vocht said.
The app is now live in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Tilburg, and will soon be live in Hilversum and Eindhoven.
Head Cook, La Nouvelle Auberge, Tilburg
At La Nouvelle Auberge, head cook Ralph Blaakenburg uses the NoFoodWasted App in his restaurant and throws away as little as possible. “We try to use everything,” he explains. “For example, when you have a leek, most people only use the white part, but we are thinking about what we can make with the green part!”
Blaakenburg points out that there are many things you can make with leftovers, including croutons and soup. “When you have old bread, you can make croutons from them,” he says. “When you have some vegetables left over, slice them and make a soup!” Most importantly, before you throw food away, look at it and smell it.
The need to prevent food waste was instilled in Blaakenburg from an early age. This practice also helps him save the restaurant money. He claims that almost eight percent of costs have been reduced since he first started working at the restaurant 10 years ago.
Blaakenburg’s sustainable mindset results in two menus: a set menu and a surprise menu that varies from day to day. On Friday and Saturday, almost 70% of the customers at La Nouvelle Auberge choose the surprise menu, and thus help contribute to preventing food waste through a delicious meal.
Co-Founder, Conscious Kitchen, The Hague and
Anubhav Kandpal takes a similar approach to Ralph Blaakenburg’s surprise menu through a different initiative. After moving from India to The Hague, he got involved with Conscious Kitchen, a small group of volunteers who create delicious weekly dinners to share by using food from local markets that would otherwise be thrown it away, or sourcing it locally and organically. Their meals are vegan and affordable, with the hope of bringing people together to promote community and sustainability.
Kandpal points out that sustainability on its own doesn’t work. “You need a community of people to build it and move it further,” he says. “We want to raise awareness, and how we raise awareness is through people.”
A group of 20 volunteers assist at each dinner, which includes a soup, a main course and a dessert, with the option to take food items home as well. The dinner costs a minimum of 5 euros, but guests are welcome to contribute as much as they want.
A lot of the dinner ingredients are given to them for free from the Haagse Markt and the Leiden weekly market food vendors. Over the years, the organisation has built relationships with the vendors. “In the beginning they would only give us a few things,” says Kandpal. Once the vendors saw what they were doing, some started to give them more.
Volunteers pick up the food from the vendors on Wednesdays, and the dinners take place on Thursdays. The dinner guests are mostly international.
“We discovered that a lot of people come to the dinner because they are lonely,” he says. “At the Conscious Kitchen, they find a new community.”
About the author
Olivia van den Broek-Neri is orginally from California and has lived in the Netherlands for12 years.