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Waste not, want not

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Rachael Garside Rachael Garside | 10:42 UK time, Friday, 13 January 2012

How does this sound for a really simple idea? - take the surplus produce from the food industry and instead of burying it in landfill sites across Wales, redistribute it to people in the community who really need it.

That's the vision behind the charity Fareshare Cymru and I've been out with them this week, seeing how the process works.

We've heard about waste strategies and Government targets to reduce waste - well this scheme fits neatly into part of the plans and the ultimate aim is that Wales should be a country where no good food goes to waste.

It was an early start at the depot on the Capital Business Park in Cardiff where Fareshare Cymru has one of two bases in Wales (the other is in Llandudno Junction) Fareshare has been operating on a UK level for around 20 years now, but only came to Wales last September.

Guy Boswell is the project manager in Cardiff and he showed me around the warehouse where they keep the produce.

There was an amazing variety of foods stacked up on shelves stretching from floor to ceiling - from boxes of pasta, hundreds of tins of hot chocolate which couldn't be sold because the labels had accidentally been printed in Swedish to a whole pallet of after-dinner mints.

They can also stock fresh produce in huge fridge and freezer stores.

We joined volunteer Shelly on a trip in a chiller van up to Abertillery to the Tillery Frozen Foods factory where they had a stack of vegetable moussakas with one ingredient missing from the sauce which meant that meant they couldn't be sold, but are perfectly okay to eat.

With the food on board, we headed back to Cardiff in time to see a huge lorry arrive from Bristol with a delivery from a well-known cream cheese manufacturer.

We then took a delivery of produce to the Huggard Homeless Centre in Cardiff, where around 38 beds are provided for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough.

In the kitchens, the staff were busy making corned beef pasties and explained to us that before Fareshare starting delivering, they were relying on fried foods, but could now provide healthier food for the men and women coming to them for help.

As Guy explained, they need a lot more companies to donate surplus food (he was very firm on stressing that it's surplus and not 'waste').

After all, it costs £58 per ton to take anything to landfill - so it should make economic sense to donate it instead. Also, funding could be a problem in future because without it, the scheme couldn't work.

The whole experience was a real eye-opener, but it also makes you think about just how much food we do waste. And how our demanding shopping habits have created all this surplus in the first place. Definitely food for thought.

You can hear more about this story on 'Country Focus' this Sunday at 7am on BBC Radio Wales.


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