Canadian Food Activist Brings Message to Hamilton

By Tristan Hooker for WeLoveHamilton.co.nz

22 february 2016

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A young Canadian activist enjoyed a two-day stopover in Hamilton recently, during his worldwide quest to raise awareness about the global issue of food wastage.

Brian McLellan-Tuck is travelling the world, spreading his message that food is not only being unnecessarily wasted but is contributing to environmental problems by filling up landfills.

At the end of last year Brian hiked the entire 890km of the famous Bruce Trail in Ontario, Canada, sustaining himself on only what he could find along the trail.  Now he is hoping to inspire New Zealanders by spending as little money as he can on food during his year-long stay.

When he’s between cities, Brian finds food by “wild harvesting”.  That is, finding edible plants and berries.  When he’s passing through a city he will often dumpster-dive as a way of not only getting free food, but reducing food waste on behalf of the food retailers who are throwing out what he says is perfectly edible produce.

“New Zealand’s so much more on their game than North America,” says Brian.  I know there’s definitely less waste. They seem to be pretty on top of environmental issues, or waste anyways.”

He does, however, think there’s room for improvement in New Zealand and there are still things being thrown out that could be used or donated.

“Before I came here I went online, because there’s an actual dumpster-diving website, and it goes per country.  There’s a seven or eight minute video of dumpster-diving in NZ and there’s people pulling bottles of vodka and wine and stuff out of the dumpster and other regular produce and what not…”

This comes as food suppliers worldwide are being encouraged to crack down on food wastage and be aware of what goes into landfills.  As reported in WeLoveHamilton this month [Hamilton’s Kaivolution is a Step Ahead of France, 11 Feb] France has just passed a law forbidding supermarkets there to throw out unsold food.

Ruth Seabright, of Hamilton’s Kaivolution Food Rescue, says some estimates have put worldwide food waste as high has 50 percent. 

“Worldwide there is an incredible amount of edible food that is wasted”, says Ruth.  “When you partner that with the fact that many families are struggling, it is very clear there is a real problem with our system”.

Brian says he wants to inspire people to think outside the box about food and realise there are lots of opportunities to reduce wastage and increase awareness of food issues. 

He says he would like to see supermarkets and shops reducing food waste but also he wants people to realise they can significantly reduce the amount of money spent on food by growing their own or harvesting from the wild.

“I talk to people about wild edibles and stuff and they’re inspired about my wild harvesting and lots of people want to start trying it for themselves,” he says, “and I hope they do.”