Food poverty is exacerbated in this country due to the way in which food markets and the regulatory framework functions. An unintended outcome of this is that food that is still safe to eat but does not meet retail or Defra’s standards, for example in appearance, size and shape, is transformed into biomass fuel, rather than processed into foodstuffs that can be stored and eaten at a later date. TMTP venture called FOODTURES incorporates two main activities, food growing and food processing. We have secured 6 acres of available Council owned allotment land, at The Rock in Brislington that will start production by the end of 2016 and FOODTURES food processing.
To launch our food processing operation we plan to raise funds to design and install the first FOODTURES Processing Kitchen at 25 Filwood Broadway, Knowle. This is where we will process fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs into tasty, savoury or sweet preserves, chutneys, sauces, relishes, soups, juices and cordials. The ingredients will in the main be sourced locally from allotment or co-operative growers, wholesalers and food stores discarding misshapen and end of shelf-life stocks, and in time FOODTURES Market Gardens.
Our aim is to develop a ‘cottage industry’ in Filwood where the surplus food of today is transformed into store-cupboard basics for the Bristol market to be sold under TMTP own brand label. First year production targets are set at modest levels and are 104,000 330g jars = 34.32 tonnes in first 18 months (6 months preparation and training followed by 12 months at full production). To make this venture work it requires two essential ingredients; the wisdom, knowledge and support of an experienced chef, and specific pieces of kitchen food processing equipment.
We believe FOODTURES food processing is an excellent way to reduce the volume of rejected fresh produce discarded in Bristol each year. By transforming today’s surplus food into tomorrow’s jams, sauces, cordials and relishes the produce will have a much longer shelf life than, for example, processed foods such as ready meals and take-a-ways. In the UK around 40% of food is wasted either before or after sale and Defra estimates that we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of edible food and drink each year. Locally as the report “Who Feeds Bristol’ points out, St Philips Wholesale Market sends significant quantities of fit-to-eat fruit and vegetables to landfill, partly due to Defra’s own standards relating to the size, shape and appearance of fruits and vegetables fit for sale.
There are 69,500 people at risk of food poverty in Bristol alone and currently 24.1% of Filwood’s residents claim out-of-work benefits with many of those claimants living in and around Inns Court where the highest level of multiple deprivation exists in the ward, deprivation in the sense of being amongst the most 10% deprived households in England. A significant number of residents here have low incomes, few employment opportunities and experience poor health and disabilities. Education, skill levels and training opportunities are also lowest in the ward. There is therefore good reason to provide both skills training for people in this area and to help educate people how not to waste food and turn it into tomorrow’s food.
TMTP Food Plus Centre (FPC) clients face the greatest challenges to feeding their families, often lacking basic cookery equipment, and a spot survey of 15 clients carried out by a University of Southampton researcher in 2014 indicated that 11% of respondents wanted to know how to waste less food, and 18.5% wanted to improve home cooking skills. One responded stated that ‘They give me a lot of tomatoes but sometimes (I) don’t have a recipe about how to use them.’ We therefore plan to hold ‘Food Rave Days’ at the FOODTURES Processing Kitchen to introduce local people to the idea of making their own relishes and preserves. These are designed to be fun and social as well as educational.
Before starting production, we will hold community ‘tasting sessions’ to select the recipes that appeal most to people. We welcome suggestions relating to the types of preserves, pickles and drinks that residents enjoy most. For example, home-made pickle can be rich in nutrition and still taste good without adding the high levels of salt and sugar content often found in commercial brands. We will continue taste testing new recipes as fruits and vegetables ripen across the seasons because, as our operation will initially be relatively small scale, this will allow us the flexibility to experiment with recipes and ingredients before scaling up production in other parts of Bristol.
Once established the kitchen will be run by an experienced chef cum trainer, and offer two full-time, paid apprenticeship posts each year, and eight student placement days each week for individuals who have been unemployed for a long time and are studying food related courses at local institutes and/or within the FOODTURES project. We will also hold Community Food Rave Days at FOODTURES inviting local people, schools and nursery groups, to see for themselves how fresh produce is transformed into tasty relishes or yummy smoothies that they will be able to see on shop shelves, dissolving the myth that sauces come from squeezy bottles and jams from jars. Each child and adult will be given a selection of recipe cards to try out at home. This will help to spread the word that, with the right skills, wilting fruits and vegetables in the cupboard at home, windfalls found in green spaces and reduced priced bags of green groceries in shops can make a tasty additions mealtimes.
FOODTURES Food Processing Kitchen will be open one day each month to visitors. The high level of deprivation in Filwood indicates that many people live hand to mouth existences, and that not all are skilled in basic food economy and cooking from scratch, perhaps having not been taught this at school. This lack of skills feeds into the culture of waste and the idea of making what we have got last, is a habit people can learn.
Unfortunately ‘Who Feed Bristol’ reports that although ‘food processors and manufacturers are an essential part of the food system, they are the sector that often has the least transparent food sourcing and often uses cheap imports.’
We shall not be doing this.
Our aim is to use produce grown at our FOODTURES Market Gardens, and to buy in fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs that are grown locally elsewhere. We are keen to support home garden and allotment growers, such as those at Springfield Allotments, and organisations like ELM (the Edible Landscape Movement). If they have any surplus fruits and vegetables that will go to waste otherwise, we will be happy to buy or receive donations of produce that nobody else wants.
FOODTURES is specifically designed to recycle food that would otherwise be wasted by transforming it into wholesome pickles, chutneys, jams, sauces, cordials and juices sold into the local market. ‘Who Feeds Bristol’ ends on the note that Bristol is not making the most of its capacity to feed itself unless it increases its potential to supply sustainably grown urban food that minimises the depletion of soil nutrients and uses low carbon production systems.
As European Green Capital 2015 there was a plethora of activity in the City to stimulate low carbon, urban food production that we welcome, but unfortunately this could lead to more food waste unless a percentage of fresh produce is processed into edible foods that has a mid to long-term shelf life.
Our produce will be sold in glass jars or bottles that can be sterilised and re-used thus avoiding adding to the mountain of plastic and carbon containers being recycled each year, saving on transport miles and the energy costs of recycling.
Reduce energy consumption
Food PLUS Centres already contribute to reducing food waste in Bristol by taking in quantities of donated fresh produce to feed our clients, for example from Bath Wholesale Fruiterers, Total Produce, Mack, Tropical Fruits at St. Philip’s Wholesale Market, Brakes (a retail food distribution company), Aldi, Lidl and ASDA in Whitchurch. However when we receive more than we can use, it’s difficult to source homes for it all so that it does not go to waste.
FOODTURES food processing will enable us to put these surplus fruits and vegetables to good use. Similarly when Urban Food Producers groups, Real Economy food buying groups and local growers experience glut harvests, or low demand for a particular type of fruit or vegetable, we will be able to use this surplus whether it’s donated, or for sale.
Unique recipes are being created for each of the food products we will produce. The objective is to produce great tasting food that is healthy and affordable without using chemical or artificial addictive’s, sweeteners, and preservatives. Our labeling with list all the nutritional value of each product as our primary objective is to ensure increased health and well-being of each customer rather than a maximisation of sales.