The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP) is a global network which up until this week consisted of over 120 pay as you feel cafes. These fantastic eateries divert food destined for waste and instead use it to create delicious and healthy meals, which customers can pay for in a variety of ways. This week, however, TRJFP set up its first food waste supermarket in Pudsey, Leeds, which is also the first of its kind in the UK.
The project’s founder is Adam Smith, and we have been lucky enough to steal a few minutes of his time to find out a bit more about TRJFP, the Pudsey supermarket, and his thoughts on the problem of food waste.
Forge: Hi Adam, The Real Junk Food Project has just opened the UK’s first food waste supermarket in Pudsey, Leeds. How did the supermarket idea come about?
Adam: During the school holidays we encountered surplus amounts of intercepted food. Usually we deliver between 2-3 tons per week to 6000 children in 32 different schools across Leeds & Bradford. When the summer holidays started we had no further output and decided to create a social media post to allow the general public access to the stock. It took off from there, where now we have a dedicated space for everyone to come and get #PAYF access to the atrocious quantities of food that is perfectly edible, yet allowed to be wasted.
Forge: Where does all the waste food come from that is filling the Pudsey supermarket shelves?
Adam: Foodbanks, supermarkets, wholesale, farms, allotments, cafes, restaurants…you name it, we intercept from it.
Forge: The supermarket is ‘pay as you feel’, as are the TRJFP cafes. What are the payment options for visitors?
Adam: Money, time or skills – we treat all as valuable as one another.
Forge: What types of food can visitors to the Pudsey supermarket expect to find on the shelves?
Adam: Everything. We have fridges and freezers full of meat, fish and dairy. Ready meals, tinned goods, bread, and non-perishable items.
Forge: What would you say is the primary cause of food waste in the UK? What changes do you feel need to be made to prevent food waste?
Adam: Corruption within government and retail sectors. We need to stop hiring supermarket bosses to oversee food waste panels.
Forge: What are your plans for the future of TRJFP? Are more food waste supermarkets on the horizon?
Adam: Feed the world.
Forge: Why do you think the pay as you feel cafe and supermarket ideas have proven so popular? Do you feel it is because people are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and passionate about reducing food waste?
Adam: Food is a human right, it is also a powerful and pivotal tool in bringing people together. We just ethically commercialised this element that allows for the general public to feel that they contribute back, rather than feeling exploited.
Forge: Do you have a top food waste reduction tip that readers can put into action at home?
Adam: Don’t shop at supermarkets!
Forge: Thanks for your time, Adam. Good luck for the future of TRJFP.