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Hundreds enjoy waste-based food


Finland’s first mass-scale waste-based dinner was a big hit in Jyväskylä. More than 750 diners sampled delicious food, made from grocery shops’ surplus stock.

The waste-based food event helped to make the theme of resource wisdom easier to swallow. Wisdom means not throwing away food that has already consumed huge amounts of energy, nutrients and fertilisers, not to mention work. Instead, it is made into tasty meals for townsfolk.

A strange sight greeted those visiting Jyväskylä in Wednesday’s bright spring weather. Almost a thousand city residents had formed a queue in the middle of the pedestrian zone. This long and winding line snaked towards to a white tent erected in the Are Square, where delicious, free dishes prepared by top chefs, Sami Sorvoja and Juho Haveri-Heikkilä, were being served. The meal was prepared from surplus food donated by food retailers, i.e. products otherwise destined to become landfill.

More than 750 dinners made from waste were served, including the following treats: roast lamb, chicken salad, pizza with Portobello mushrooms and ham, mini burgers, marinated red onions and olives. “Delicious! Much better than the food usually served up at mass events,” Riitta Miettinen and Markku Sorsa enthused while finishing their meals.

“The food is excellent! But what’s Sitra?” asked Suvi Koivisto and Soile Puustinen, basking in the sun on a flight of steps.

While marketing agency Måndag took charge of practical arrangements, the actual organisers of the meal event were the city of Jyväskylä and Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. The event was part of their joint project Towards resource wisdom, aimed at promoting the wiser use of natural resources and fostering sustainable development.

“Finnish households alone throw up to 64 kilos of edible food away per year. That leaves a lot of room for improvement”, Jukka Noponen, Director of Sitra, told his audience in Jyväskylä.

“Huge amounts of energy, nutrients, fertilisers and work are used in food production. Just throwing it away makes no sense. That’s what resource wisdom is all about,” added Johanna Kirkinen, who is leading the project.

Even if food had originally been promised for the first three hundred people only, those in the queue remained in good spirits. In the end, so much food was donated that everyone who was prepared to wait was served. After running out of plates, they continued to serve the food to hundreds of people from cups – and nobody seemed to mind. That day in Jyväskylä, the sun was shining, Mikko Kuustonen was singing, and people enjoyed a relaxing meal.

“It’s events like this that put paid to any thoughts of moving away! Let’s do our bit and hope that this works”, wrote Tanja Tuulinen, a Jyväskylä resident, on Facebook after the event.

The same spirit could be sensed on Twitter, where an animated discussion was held on the Towards resource wisdom project (in Finnish under #resurssiviisaus). “Resource wisdom has arrived in Jyväskylä,” added non-fiction writer Jussi Laitinen, in under 140 characters.

Our thanks to everyone who participated in the event, and special thanks to K-Market Ruokavinkki, K-Citymarket Palokka, S-Market Savela, K-Citymarket Jyväskylä Keljo, K-Market Kauppahalli, Lähiruokamestarit, Mestarin Herkku, K-Citymarket Seppälä and Maailmankauppa Mango, and  Jyväskylä College and its students.

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