Each time I read an article about how much food is wasted in this country my stomach churns. It’s sickening particularly as I know that as much as I try not to waste food, at times I am as guilty of this sin as the next person.
It’s particularly refreshing to hear that there are some people out there striving to make a difference. Last week I was invited to attend the FareShare Feast a collaboration between the Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival, City College Brighton and FareShare Brighton & Hove. If ever you needed proof that you can make something from virtually nothing then this event was it. Chefs from some of the city’s finest restaurants were taken to the FareShare warehouse a short time before the event to select their ingredients. What they produced from what otherwise would be considered ‘redundant’ food was nothing short of amazing. Sixty percent of the food on our plates that evening had been sourced from that warehouse – all of which could have wound up in landfill sites without FareShare’s intervention.
FareShare Brighton & Hove began in 2002 to support the services in the city that were feeding the homeless. Ian Chisholm from FareShare explained that supermarkets used to bleach out of date produce to make it inedible (presumably because of some messed up Health & Safety regulation). Although supermarkets are frequently criticised for their food wastage even they realised this destruction of perfectly edible food was nonsensical then and equally so now when so many people are living in food poverty. In 2013 FareShare Brighton & Hove distributed 455 tonnes of food to charitable organisations across the city. This equates to £1.65m per year but this is still a minute proportion of the £1billion worth food destroyed in the UK every year.
I’ve long been a fan of Terre a Terre and their chef Matty Bowling didn’t disappoint with his egg noodle laksa with a smoked slow cooked egg served with oolong pickled lotus root (OK this particular item wasn’t found in the FareShare warehouse), buckwheat crumb, fresh coconut and coriander. As with all of their dishes the execution was highly accomplished and spicing spot on with the smokiness of the egg still discernible through the punchy laksa sauce.
The asian theme continued through to the main produced by Michael Bremner of 64 degrees. This time we were treated to a moist fillet of pork with rogan josh carrot, roast tomato and coconut. The simplicity of the description belied the complexity of the sweet (from the roasted tomatoes) and savoury flavours on the palate.
In between each course a palate cleansing sorbet were served produced by Seb Cole of Boho Gelato. Seb had just returned from the Nivarata Festival of granita in Sicily as part of the Brighton & Hove Food Festival’s International Chef Exchange. His mojito sorbet served between the starter and the main was amazing – forget the traditional cocktail I’d be all for eating this on a hot summer’s night. I can’t say as was as fond of the tea granita between the main and dessert but then I’m not really a tea fan so there’s no surprise there.
For texture and presentation David Edward of Seattle’s coffee mousse with a chocolate base (crushed up Kit Kats – brilliant!) and jasmine sorbet gets full marks. The generous portion of mousse was ridiculously light but there was something about the flavour (perhaps it was the mention of Coffee Mate) that didn’t quite do it for me. I should add, in David’s defence, that dessert is generally my least favourite course and that it was still an amazing accomplishment considering the limited repertoire of ingredients he had available.
It costs something like £150,000 per year to run the FareShare project in Brighton & Hove. Frankly, that is money well spent if it prevents people from starving. So if like me you know that perhaps you do (however inadvertently) contribute to food waste you could do worse than support this charity. Enough said.
Many thanks to the wonderful Julia Claxton for the use of her superior photography for this post!