Waste Knot: ensuring all good produce finds a home
We have another episode of our podcast, Serving Up Sustainability! This episode is the first with our co-host, Julie Cleijne, the CEO and founder of Sustainable Kitchen. They are a consultancy of nutrition trained chefs who are specialists in plant-based and allergen-free cooking. (For our episode about Sustainable Kitchen, go here!)
In this episode, we’re interviewing Jess Latchford of Waste Knot, as well as discussing why produce is wasted, and what restaurants can do to help.
Jess tells us that, according to the UN, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally. She was shocked by this, as well as the fact that food waste starts before the food is even harvested. For example, farms tend to grow 10-15% more than is needed due to lack of control over weather conditions. This surplus of food, as well as the produce that doesn’t fit with cosmetic guidelines set by supply chains, mean that food waste starts before ever reaching the consumer. For example, supply chains will only take courgettes of a particular size, as they will easily fit inside of a box, and they won’t roll during transport. However, this causes courgettes which are smaller or larger to go to waste.
That’s why she created Waste Knot, a company that:
…helps make the connection between farms that have surplus produce that may not meet strict, cosmetic criteria and those who can put it to good use.
Waste Knot is also committed to helping educate the wider food industry about waste. She greatly commends chefs such as Phil Howard who are already teaching consumers about the power of choosing a more sustainable product over another. She also believes that social media is helping change opinions. For example, the idea of buying ‘wonky veg’ is a huge trend which has been powered by social media. This push for more sustainable produce has therefore also translated into consumers now choosing restaurants that value health and the environment.
However, it’s everyone – not just the food industry! – that needs to learn more about food waste. To help with this, Jess provides boxes of mixed produce to schools. This allows children to learn about food and food waste, including the issue of wonky veg. This surplus produce is then used in the school kitchen and served for lunch. This allows younger generations to reconnect with food, including who has grown it and where it was grown. Waste Knot also creates stew packs, which are combinations of carrots, parsnips, and other vegetables which are on the verge of being too ripe, and therefore cannot be given straight to charities such as food banks.
There are many challenges still facing food waste warriors such as Waste Knot. Even with social media, there is some difficulty in convincing people to change their attitude towards surplus produce. But Jess is confident. She wants to be seen as a benchmark for the food industry – in the future, she hopes that farms can’t not have Waste Knot.
She concludes the episode by saying that there are a variety of ways that restaurants can help reduce food waste. This includes:
- Not over-ordering on food
- Education about using every part of a plant (e.g. carrot tops)
- Reducing large portion sizes
- Educating consumers – restaurants are key for people in urban areas to understand food and farming, particularly for younger generations such as Gen Z
To listen to the full episode, click below:
If you’re interested in being interviewed on Serving Up Sustainability, you can email Tried and Supplied at firstname.lastname@example.org.