10 May 2011

Australian celebrity chef swears that perfectly edible food should not be thrown out

I've previously written (a number of times) about wasting food, including mentioning that for commercial operations like catering and restaurants, there are charities that make good use of unsold or untouched food to help those in need, and that in Australia, OzHarvest is one such charity.  Today, OzHarvest announced a new initiative
OzHarvest, Australia's leading food-rescue charity, today launches REAP, an initiative that brings the food-rescue concept to regional areas around the country. The project, the brainchild of OzHarvest founder and former Local Hero of the year 2010, Ronni Kahn, provides a toolkit for regional communities to carry out the OzHarvest mission themselves; that is, to collect excess food and feed those in need.

REAP launched with a controversial viral ad campaign featuring renowned chef Matt Moran, owner/chef of Sydney and Brisbane's Aria restaurant and also judge on Network Ten's MasterChef.

The controversial viral video, captured on an iPhone, was released onto YouTube and Twitter revealing a very irritated Moran having a heated argument with staff on set while filming a cooking segment.

The unknown staff member throws away a piece of perfectly good-to-eat 'plated-up' chicken only to have a very angry Moran shock viewers by shouting expletives at the staff member for throwing away perfectly edible food.

It is revealed through a second viral video release that this was, in fact, a hoax which brings to light the issue of food wastage in Australia with the message from Moran to think twice about throwing away food. Moran also emphasises that billions of dollars of food is thrown away every year. A community service announcement with REAP's message will also be played on Network Ten during the month of May.

Matt Moran said: 'I was more than happy to be involved in something so controversial if it meant that the message of food waste would be brought to the top of Australians' minds. REAP is a simple concept started by leading food charity OzHarvest, who have already rescued millions of meals from going to waste and who have provided millions of people with fresh food that they normally would not have access to. It's a f***ing great cause!'

The REAP regional toolkit contains a three-step process with four guiding principles for communities in feeding the needy within their own towns. Firstly, identify the need, secondly, source the food and lastly get an esky and go!

Community food rescuers collect the food from the donor, delivering it to the client, who provides the food to the needy. Central to the program's effectiveness is that it is an entirely free service, aligned with the OzHarvest mission. The NSW Premier's Department provided funding to OzHarvest for this project.

Ronni Kahn, CEO and founder of OzHarvest said: 'The issue of feeding those in need goes well beyond the areas we currently service which is Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong and most recently Adelaide. We have been working hard to create ways to help regional areas where our yellow OzHarvest vans just don't have the capability to reach on a day-to-day basis.'

Kahn said: 'REAP provides regional areas with all the necessary tools that they need to rescue food and deliver it to the disadvantaged. On top of that, it also serves to stop good food from ending up as landfill.'
The 'viral' video

The follow-up video

Aside from the gimmicky manner in which this was announced such as prematurely labelling of a 'controversial viral' video (see reporting in Sydney Morning Herald, which played along), this is a great initiative.

See also public relations company Liquid Ideas' news release, which also includes details of 'food facts'.

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