Real Junk Food

Why Aren’t We Eating More Junk Food?

By Emily Cowan, ONCA Volunteer

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about junk food.

And no, I don’t mean burgers, hot dogs, or Kentucky fried chicken. The Real Junk Food Project is an organisation tackling current attitudes towards food waste, and founder Adam Smith set up the first original café in Leeds serving healthy meals on a “pay as you feel” basis, created from produce that would have otherwise been thrown away by supermarkets, grocers and food banks. More cafés have since popped up across the country in other cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh and, very conveniently, Brighton (just down the road from ONCA, in fact)

It is estimated that one third of all food produced around the world is wasted, a shocking amount considering global hunger issues. With hunger and food production drastically out of balance, things clearly have to change. The Real Junk Food Project provides a network for recycling the mass waste currently caused by the food industry, and tackles the regulations that have led to this imbalance in supply and demand.

Adam is targeting supermarket chains and restaurants to get them on-board, with Nando’s currently supplying all the chicken they use. However, it is not enough for supermarkets to simply donate their excess, as this does not address the root problem of over-production that they have caused in the first place. But it is a good start.

Whilst shaping new mentalities surrounding food sell-by dates and mass waste, the project is also creating an environment where money, profits and capitalism do not rule. For those who can’t contribute to the cost of their meal with cash, other exchanges are welcomed such as help with the washing up, enabling the homeless and less well off to eat a hearty meal and also get involved with the local community.

What’s more, not only does it provide meals for those who don’t have enough food, it also challenges those with surplus to really think about the way they are consuming. Living in a society with an abundance of fast food chains and supermarkets making absurd regulations – strict cosmetic standards for fruit and veg, for instance – it is easy to begin to view food as a disposable product rather than the fuel we need to live. The popularity of The Real Junk Food Project will hopefully cause people to look at their food differently, find ways to reduce wastage, and truly value what they have. No food should ever have to end up as junk.

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