There are so many social enterprise initiatives springing up in my local area involving food at the moment. I was recently pointed in the direction of The Pickle Palace, a food market based in Greenside Cricket Club. I already knew about the business after seeing jars of their pickles and chutneys at Thought Foundation but I didn’t know about this additional element. To reduce food waste, The Pickle Place rescue food from major supermarkets and host a ‘Pay as you Feel’ market 3 times a week.
In addition to this, the volunteers craft a 2 course menu for just £3.50 using surplus food which is served up at the cricket club on a Friday as a way of bringing the community together. I took the Teen along for lunch recently to find out more about the market and to see what the food on offer was like. Having eaten at Refuse a number of times the idea of food destined for landfill wasn’t off-putting for me, but I felt my son would think differently. As Pickle Palace do meat and veggie dishes, I was able to talk him round with the fact he would be able to enjoy a ‘proper’ mince Spag Bol if he came with me!
As well as the pasta he was also treated to Apple Pie and Custard. It’s crazy to think of this food going to waste because of use and sell by dates arbitrarily decided by supermarkets. I don’t necessarily pay heed to these myself on packaging and use my own judgement on whether something is ‘safe’ to be consumed. There are also items like fresh flowers and cleaning products available on occasion.
Seeing all of the food The Pickle Palace receive from my local Tesco and Morrisons is astounding. Ready meals, joints of meat, pizzas, and a criminal amount of good fruit and vegetables are piled up on tables in the cricket club. Amounts to donate are suggested, but there are those who may visit this food market who can’t afford to contribute.
This isn’t about food poverty, although there is an element of that in any ‘Pay as you Feel’ initiative. There may be people locally who are struggling financially but, on the surface, you may not be able to tell. The stigma around getting involved or visiting markets and community fridges needs to be removed. I want to talk about projects like this on Canny Food because they are so important, not just to the community, but to the environment.
Hannah and Michelle, the brains behind The Pickle Palace, share a very similar outlook to my own. Seeing the amount of packaging piled up, especially on the fruit and veg, really bugged me. To think that if it weren’t for the likes of this initiative it would have been classed as waste defies belief. And these markets are held 3 times a week! See my post about my attempts to reduce our plastic use at home here.
The benefit to the supermarkets participating in something like this stretches beyond helping out those in the surrounding areas. They also cut down on their own waste bill. I was told that Tesco saves £3 million a year utilising the services of enterprises such as these rather than paying contractors to remove food ‘waste’. I wonder how many smaller stores, independent restaurants, etc. could do the same?
You can find out more about what The Pickle Palace are doing on their Facebook page here. They make regular trips to the supermarkets to pick up donations and post what’s on offer at their market. We’ve also seen mention of extra markets running, too.
I took home some quinoa and chickpea salad from the market and made myself lunch with some falafel and hummus that were needing to be used in my fridge.
Seeing these photos may be a shocking sight -especially for me with the meat – but at least there are enterprises trying to counteract this waste of perfectly good food. One hopes, in the future, there may be some changes to how food is labelled to stop perfectly good food being destroyed instead of feeding our towns and cities.
Thanks for reading,