Spotlight TEDx Talk: A new way to combat food waste

Cucumbers wasted per week at The Netherland's largest cucumber farm. (Credit: Fiona Jongejans)

Cucumbers wasted per week at The Netherland’s largest cucumber farm. (Credit: Fiona Jongejans)

It is normal — and sometimes even regulated — for absolutely edible and healthy food products to be discarded merely due to cosmetic reasons, says industrial designer Fiona Jongejans at TEDxMaastricht. In the Netherlands, where Jongejans lives, fruits and vegetables are placed into different classes, with a cucumber required to be “practically straight … [with the] maximum height of the inner arc [being] 10 mm per 10 cm of length” to be considered “class I.” Jongejans is bothered by regulations that put aesthetics or economics over health, saying, “The waste of perfectly edible food is a natural consequence of this food chain we designed.”

Fiona Jongejans at TEDxMaastrict

Fiona Jongejans at TEDxMaastricht

Each one of these discarded cucumbers, peppers, apples, so on, could be used to aid the 1.4 million Netherlanders living below the poverty line, Jongejans says. “[Right now] Dutch food banks can only help 7 per cent of these people,” she says, “1.4 million sounds like a lot  … but we need only [5 per cent] of [produce] that’s wasted in order to help those 1.4 million people.”

How to do this? Re-think the commercial food chain, Jongejans says. Nearly half of all fruits and vegetables grown in Europe is wasted, according to the United Nations; Jongejans and her colleagues want to curb this waste at the front line, by linking food banks with local fruit and vegetable farmers.

Learn how in her talk:

Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:
The speaker — a designer — discusses a novel solution for a problem in her community: food waste. She supports her idea — that the commercial food chain needs to be redesigned — with concrete facts, illuminating visuals, and explanatory scenarios. Her talk is clear, direct and passionately delivered.

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