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Belfast could get first food waste festival before Christmas

By Rebecca Black

Published 30/03/2016

The initiative is the brainchild of the Belfast Food Network, which is in talks with Belfast City Council over hosting the event at St George’s Market
The initiative is the brainchild of the Belfast Food Network, which is in talks with Belfast City Council over hosting the event at St George’s Market

Belfast could be set to host its first waste food festival this autumn, it can be revealed.

Feed The City aims to educate the public about how to find food more sustainably and how to transform what might otherwise go to waste into tasty dishes to tempt the taste buds.

The initiative is the brainchild of the Belfast Food Network, which is in talks with Belfast City Council over hosting the event at St George's Market.

The organisation is currently undertaking outreach work with community groups across the city and is seeking funding to ensure the event goes ahead.

The attraction is being planned to take place at the start of November, to coincide with the time when local produce is most abundant.

It is set to include so-called wonky fruit and vegetables that farms find difficult to sell, tips on growing your own food and advice on cuts of meat and cooking dishes such as soups and stews made from surplus food.

Kerry Melville, from the Belfast Food Network, said the group had had an enthusiastic response to the proposed event and just needed vital funding to go ahead.

The event was inspired by British author Tristram Stuart's vision. In 2009, he launched his global food waste campaign, called Feeding the 5,000, in which a free feast was created in London from food which would otherwise have been binned.

Since then, scores of similar events have taken place across the world, and wonky fruit and vegetables have become a more common sight, with some supermarkets introducing deals whereby customers can buy a crate of them at a bargain price.

Ms Melville said the Belfast Food Network would adapt the concept for Northern Ireland, where food waste is not as big a problem as other parts of the UK.

"Our food system isn't quite as ineffective as the rest of the UK or Republic," she added. "While there is waste food, it is not to the same level. We thought it would be really interesting to make it more fun and for people to interact with the growing community, (finding out) where to buy a decent cut of cheap meat sustainably and how to grow herbs on their windowsill and save loads of money."

The Belfast Food Network is a founding member of the pioneering Sustainable Food Cities Network, which is an alliance of public, private, community and voluntary sector organisations that believe in the power of food as a vehicle for driving positive change.

Last week, the organisation secured a bronze award for its work from Sustainable Food Cities at a ceremony in Liverpool.

Its work includes tackling obesity and diet-related ill-health, as well as climate change, biodiversity loss, declining prosperity and social inequalities.

The organisation was established in March 2014, as a three-year project of Sustainable NI, to work towards making Belfast a Sustainable Food City for the benefit of communities, the economy and the environment.

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