Studying abroad has made me so much more appreciative and grateful for my life in Canada. When you travel, you are thrown into an unknown, and often that unknown is missing things that you take for granted. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to live across the world for six months. I am grateful that I have the finances to travel and explore new countries, embracing different cultures and perspectives. I am grateful that maple syrup is a Canadian product and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for a tiny bottle.
We can be extremely grateful for many things that modern life has granted us – but one thing is for sure in the Western world: sharing isn’t something that we excel at. We are hungry, greedy consumers with a craving for an abundance of material and monetary wealth. We want the next biggest and better model, regardless if we have its perfectly functioning predecessor.
My brother’s favorite joke goes like this: Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants? In case he gets a hole in one. My brother will use this punchline in response to almost anything – most of the time in a scenario where it doesn’t make sense – but it is so applicable to this situation. I often buy a surplus of things because “I’ll need it eventually,” only to grow out of it, or for it to expire. One time I bought two containers of strawberries because they were on sale. By the time I was ready to eat the second container, it had already mutated into another lifeform and plotting to take over the other produce in my fridge. What a waste!
Speaking of waste, over a third of all food produced in the world ends up in the trash. At the same time, nearly 800 million people go hungry to bed every night. According to new research, Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection.” Vast quantities of fresh produce are left to rot in landfills simply because they don’t look blemish-free. Although I am 100% guilty of participating in this mindset, it blows my mind that we produce enough food for everyone on the planet today. All those beauty pageant contestants can sleep peacefully at night. We could end world hunger, but instead we’re throwing out perfectly fine food????
In the last five years, Denmark has reduced the amount of food waste it produces by 25 per cent (as if I couldn’t love this country anymore). Their goal is to build a society in which the 700,000 tonnes of food currently wasted each year is not just thrown away. One of the ways it hopes to achieve this is through food sharing initiatives, which is something I have only recently been introduced to but it is a GAME CHANGER.
Food sharing originated in Germany and is a practice where people make a commitment to ensure food is shared instead of wasted. Foodsharing Copenhagen builds upon this initiative by redistributing food that grocers might otherwise throw out. There are people called “foodsavers” (they’re basically superheroes) who convince companies wasting food to share it with Foodsharing Copenhagen instead of throwing it to the dumpster. Later, the foodsavers bring the saved food to a publicly announced location where it is distributed for free to people (like me).
I have now gone to three foodsharing events, and every time I am blown away by the crates of food they have – and this is only from small Copenhagen, imagine how much waste is produced in New York City! And if you want something that will really blow your socks off, the quality of the food is totally fine. Sure you might find some bananas that are the perfect ripeness for banana bread, but I have gotten tomatoes and plums that were still firm.
It’s simple initiatives like this that really make me question what the heck we are doing in North America and why we haven’t adopted anything similar. Food sharing is a great way of putting to use what we/others already have, instead of scandalously wasting what we buy. I love that it’s free and it involves food (my favorite combination of words). I love that it’s a small and simple, yet hugely effective step in saving the planet. I love the idea behind it. I love Copenhagen.