Ann is an award winning Film Editor and Masters of Social Work dropout. A lifelong environmentalist, she feels a desperate need to leave the world better than how she found it. In film, she is known for her problem solving ability, a talent she hopes to transfer to averting the apocalypse.
Barnaby is a British Animator. His neon world pulsates to a filmic soundtrack, but no matter how high the volume is cranked, he can’t drown out the impending siren of the climate crisis. As a citizen of Gen Z he fights passionately for a world which will survive his dirty thirties.
Juliane is an award winning film director and producer. After a 6 year stint working in Asia, she returned to her native Germany and raised a boy who reminds her every day of her generations’ responsibility to preserve the beauty of the world we live in.
Why this food rescue project is important
Growing up in a low income family, I know well the burden of putting food on the table. Thanks to my mum, who was a single parent who often juggled several part-time jobs, we never went hungry, although I often wonder if she did. I have vague memories of her ‘needing to rest’ during the short walks to school, and she was often ill-tempered and stressed, which meant that we children were constantly stressed by proxy. With the hindsight of adulthood, I recognise the intense pressure she was under in trying to raise 3 children on her own. I also recognise how much easier that might have been if she didn’t have to allocate the lions share of her income to basic food – the immense difference it would have made to her mental health, how she might have had more time to spend with us, or finish her university degree, or just simply relax. If that one basic human need were taken care of, we could have refocussed all our financial and mental energies on becoming a better human beings. It could have been the difference between surviving and thriving.
Several decades later, I’d come a long way from those times. My job as a freelance film editor enabled me a flexible schedule which I supplemented by participating in environmental protests at a coal mine in the Australian outback. There was a permanent camp site set up on a farm near the mine with a revolving door of activists driving up from the city and pitching tents for days, sometimes months. Some of us worked remotely, using internet dongles plugged into laptops on whatever power our solar panels could harness. Every night, we shared a surprisingly tasty, healthy meal cooked over a fire under the stars. The camp was entirely self-funded by small contributions from the activists, so the quality and quantity of food that appeared from the small ‘Donations’ jar seemed like a nightly magic trick. It took a while for me to work out where this food was actually coming from. A few times a week, some of us would drive into town and dumpster-dive the bins at the local supermarket. They’d fill up the truck with food destined for landfill, enough to feed the whole campsite.
Dumpster-diving is an eye-opening experience. The amount and quality of food thrown out on a daily basis by supermarkets is mind-boggling, and the idea that this is happening in every store in every town in every western country is absurd. But to me, it was infuriating. I thought I was deprived of a normal childhood due to unfortunate circumstances beyond anyone’s control, but seeing that perfectly good food being thrown out I realised, I wasn’t deprived, I was cheated. Because why couldn’t you donate that food to struggling families instead of throwing it away? If we’d had that food, how many things might have been different for us? I might have not been sick all the time, if we could afford decent winter clothes. I might have discovered a passion for sports earlier, if the holes in my shoes didn’t make it hurt to run. I might have gotten better grades, if my donated textbooks weren’t old and out of date. That beautiful, healthy food, which represented the potential for a normal childhood, was just thrown in the garbage, like it didn’t matter. Like all the suffering and trauma of poverty that children internalise didn’t matter. Like it was ok to throw out things that people with means don’t want, because for them, there’s always more, and everyone else just has to suck it up and make do.
Now I live a pretty comfortable life in a super bourgeois part of Toronto and every day when I walk outside, I see money and excess dripping off the walls and down the streets. In the Lamborghini’s that screech down Queen West and in the hipsters happily forking over $6 for coffee so gourmet that it must be Instagram-ed before it can be consumed. I look around at all this and I’m still angry, because supermarket CEOs continue to insult my intelligence by saying that it’s ‘too hard’ to donate that food instead of throwing it in the bin.
‘Hard’ is fixing the climate crisis in a few short years.
‘Hard’ is unlearning your whole way of life to accommodate a new deadly disease.
‘Hard’ is raising 3 kids on a low income without completely losing one’s mind.
To donate something you don’t want to someone who needs it – that’s not ‘hard’, it’s human decency.
What’s so hard about that?