OZHarvest and UNEP Feeding the 5000 Event in Sydney

By Julia Dean

On the 29 of July UNIC Canberra represented the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) at the OZHarvest and UNEP Feeding the 5000 event in Sydney, part of the broader global Think.Eat.Save campaign that UNEP are partners are running to promote the issue of food waste and food loss. 

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Celebrity Chef Kylie Kwong preparing food

At the event, five thousand members of the public were given a  free hot lunch in Sydney's Martin Place, the business center of the city. Food was made from rescued ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted, such as fresh but cosmetically imperfect fruit and vegetables, surplus cream or flour that would have been dumped or excess or unused lemon juice.

Some of Sydney's top chefs, celebrities, food providers, the city markets and growers, community groups along with hundreds of OZHarvest volunteers united against food waste to make the meal and day happen. On the menu was vegetable curry and rice, potato and smoke ham hock soup, gazpacho, onion relish, natural yoghurt, chapatti, bread and butter pudding and lemonade.

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Chefs from Sydney ready to feed the 5000

As well as the lunch there was an official launch of the Think.East.Save Campaign, at which speeches were made by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, OZHarvest Patron, Ms Therese Rein, Director of Waste and Resource Recovery from the Environmental Protection Authority, Mr Steve Beaman, UNIC Canberra on behalf of UNEP, CEO of OZHarvest, Ms Ronnie Kahn and a welcome to country speech by Gadigal elder Uncle Charles 'Chika' Madden. 

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L_R Ronnie Kahn CEO OZHarvest, Ms. Therese Rein, Patron
OZHarvest, UNIC Canberra Julia Dean


Following the  speeches there was a panel of experts discussion based on food waste, food sustainability and food security.

While speeches, discussion panels and food serving was happening other activities occurred throughout the event which added to the buzz of excitement.  There were milk-crate pop up gardens - a city-garden space using milk crates and recycled shopping bags, with potted herbs so lunch-goers could flavor their meals; displays and talks on bees and sustainability; an enormous compost machine demonstration that  turned excess food  into food for the gardens; and student art installations using cream bottles, in fact over 300 cream bottles to highlight how much food is wasted each year.

It was a remarkable feat to feed 5000 people in two hours.

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Milkcrate pop up garden

On behalf of UNEP, UNIC Canberra representative Julia Dean finished her speech by quoting UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner when he said  " In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense: economically, environmentally and ethically: aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labor needed to grow that food is wasted; not to mention the generation of green house gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away".

The audience was also interested to hear that at least one third of everything we grow on this planet  each year is lost between the field and the consumer, worth around  US$1 trillion dollars and that if food waste and loss was a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

CEO OZHarvest Ronnie Kahn also  pointed out that locally, Australians waste 4 million tonnes per annum of food which ends up in landfill giving the audience food for thought,  to perhaps, Think.Eat. Save.

The people of Sydney were engaged with the event and to see some of the small video clips and photos  produced by UNIC Canberra you can visit UNIC Canberra's Facebook page.

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