Our recent #SustainableSundays post on food waste uncovered the worrying truth about how the catering department on a film set can be responsible for a huge amount of wasted food. Filmmakers Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin saw this dilemma around their home country of Canada and tried to do something to make a difference. Passionate about this crucial topic, they were inspired to make their short documentary, ‘Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story’, the follow-up to the pair’s debut documentary from 2010, ‘The Clean Bin Project’, where they made it their ambition to produce zero trash for an entire year.
Image credits © Film Review
This surprising, smart and vibrant sophomore doc sees Rustemeyer and Baldwin survive entirely off food that was entering the waste stream. During the six-month experiment, the couple collected, donated and ate around $20,000 of wasted food, which they collected from dumpsters behind warehouses and supermarkets, to retrieve the nearly-out-of-date food.
Image credits © Variety
In the process, they began to change their perception of what ‘wasted’ food really means. Talking to NPR, Rustemeyer said:
Really, we shouldn't even call it food waste, because of all the connotations associated with that word. It’s surplus. It’s extra food in our system that should not be in the landfill, that needs to get to people who need it.
The doc reveals that around 40% of food produced in North America goes uneaten every year, and ends up in landfill. Yet unlike many wider, systematic environmental issues, the problem of food waste is one that we can all play a part in solving, and this empowering message is what Rustemeyer and Baldwin are attempting to cement in the minds of their viewers, as Baldwin says, “there’s a lot that we as individuals can do.”
Image credits © NPR
The filmmaking duo offer many tips in the doc on how we can all help to reduce surplus food in our own homes. They suggest buying less food than you think you need in a week, and only returning to the shop when your fridge is empty. Once your fridge is full, introducing an ‘eat-me-first' bin, where you can store leftovers and half-used vegetables, then reminding yourself to visit this part of the fridge first before digging into new food, is a great strategy. They also advise that we shouldn’t avoid items of food on the shelves that are aesthetically unpleasing; a wonky carrot or a bruised apple is just as nutritious and tasty as its more appealing, shiny counterpart. These are tactics that can also be transferred to catering on film sets, where producers and caterers can encourage crew to reach for leftovers first, before preparing new meals.
‘Just Eat It’ is a fresh and accessible doc which presents the colossal issue of global food waste in a manageable and entertaining way, teaching us that we all have the power to reduce surplus food, one meal at a time.
Image credits © Sustainable Rossmoor
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