Something smells good in Vancouver.
The city held a massive feast yesterday where food that would normally have been thrown in the trash was made into free meals. Dubbed Feeding the 5,000, the event saw local grocers donating food that was either too mishappen or too close to its best-before date to sell in stores. Everything, of course, was safe to eat, according to the organizers.
On the menu were beef sliders, tofu squares, vegetarian spring rolls and more, prepared with weirdly-shaped cucumbers and other imperfect produce. Volunteers and student chefs were cooking up a storm all day outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery, as visitors lined up for seconds. About 5,600 meals were served altogether.
The point of the whole event? Combatting food waste.
“Feeding the 5000 Vancouver puts the topic of food waste back on the table,” the organizers wrote on the event’s website. “Everything on the menu would otherwise have been wasted.”
It’s a message Canadians need to hear. A 2014 study found that, in all, we waste $31 billion throwing away food that could’ve been eaten. That, of course, comes with massive economic and environmental costs.
We’re not the only ones though. Feeding the 5,000 originated in England, and has since held feasts in Australia, The Netherlands, the U.S. and more.
“When people think food waste, they think garbage,” said Just Eat It film producer Jennifer Rustemeyer, who also helped organize the event. “But there’s people who could really use it.”
According to the CFIA’s website, you can eat food past its best before date as long as it hasn’t been opened.
“You can buy and eat foods after the ‘best before’ date has passed. However, when this date has passed, the food may lose some of its freshness and flavour, or its texture may have changed. Some of its nutritional value, such as vitamin C content, may also be lost,” officials wrote.
The event, meanwhile, comes on the heels of a new law passed in France that made it illegal for grocery stores to throw away food. It must instead be donated to charities, or used as animal feed or farm compost. Here in Canada Real Canadian Superstore locations along with no frills have begun selling “naturally imperfect” produce to curb food waste.
For some useful tips to make sure you eat everything in your fridge, check this out.