In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of every October. Technically, the holiday is observed on Monday, but it’s common for families to get together during any time of the weekend. This past weekend, a group in Toronto took a unique approach in what it means to be thankful. Not only did they create meals out of food that otherwise would have gone to waste, but they managed to feed 5,000 people with it.
During the Expo for Design, Innovation, and Technology (EDIT) festival on Sunday, various chefs were able to feed 5,000 people with absolutely no food waste. Canada itself wastes $31 billion worth of food every year, and a lot of it is due to fresh products not hitting their mark on a grading scale. Misshaped or small products usually get tossed at supermarkets, but these items were saved for the free feast. For perspective, Toronto itself tossed out one billion pounds of food last year.
In terms of actual meals, they were mostly vegetarian. According to a Facebook post by EDIT, they cooked Fall Minestrone, Green Herb Pistou, Potato Focaccia Bread, and an assortment of fully vegan selections, as well.
Chefs involved in the Thanksgiving event included local Toronto chef and activist Joshna Maharaj, Food Network star Bob Blumer, and Cory Vitiello, who was a cooking competitor on the Canadian show, Chef in Your Ear. Second Harvest provided the over 2,000 pounds of food that were used at the event. The organization has multiple food banks around the world and generally pick up food at distribution centers to deliver to shelters and low-income communities.
Thanksgiving meals prepared at home can often lead to plenty of food waste, especially when large groups get together. Hosts end up buying more food than people need, often leading to visitors taking leftovers home. Unfortunately, much of this food often ends up going bad before getting eaten. How common is this? Sadly, very.The United States leads the world in food waste with nearly half of all produce being thrown away annually.
Some countries have decided to take a stand against this massive food waste problem. Both the United States and Germany are simplifying expiration dates and optimizing technology to help people from throwing away good food. Some of these dates simply refer to the freshness of the product, and it can, in fact, still be used for days or even weeks. In France, supermarkets are banned from throwing away food and are urged to donate food that’s near its expiration date.
This event in Toronto reminds us of how much waste is created every day, and it’s absolutely something to keep in mind is the coming holiday season.