The Pig Idea is providing free meals in Trafalgar Square today from 12h00-16h00 to highlight their campaign. They argue that suitable food waste should be fed to pigs for economic, environmental and nutritional grounds. So what was on offer today and did they get their message across?
If you were in Trafalgar Square in the minutes leading up to 12h00 you would’ve seen huge queues of Londoners waiting for free food. Not surprising as Londoner’s love a bargain. But it does seem especially attractive when teams from some of London’s best known restaurants turn up to cook. Bistro Bruno Loubet, Cabana Brasil, Paternoster Chop House, The Delaunay, Le Pont De La Tour, Soho House and Wahaca are all serving in the square until 16h00 today (or until the food runs out).
Over the last 7 months, the Pig Idea team has been rearing eight pigs on London’s Stepney City Farm on a healthy diet of spent brewer’s grains, whey, unsold fruit and veg and okara (a tofu byproduct) – all food which would otherwise have been composted or sent to landfill. The pork produced from the pigs is to be served up for YOU by some of the UK’s best restaurants and chefs.
Source: The Pig Idea
The arguments outlined on their website seem to be quite sound. They argue that selected restaurant food waste can be recycled and that farmers benefit as food otherwise destined for landfill can be used instead of more expensive soya feed imported from South America. Their claim is that “forests are being chopped down to grow the millions of tonnes of soya we import from South America every year to feed our livestock.”
As someone who isn’t familiar with the supply chain I say ‘claim’ because I haven’t verified the statement. However, I can’t help but worry about the reason why the feeding of swill to livestock was banned in the first place. In 2001 the British government introduced a ban on feeding catering waste to pigs in response to the Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak which was estimated to cost the economy GBP£8bln (USD$16bln).
“The consensus today is that the FMD virus came from infected or contaminated meat that was part of the garbage being fed to pigs at Burnside Farm in Heddon-on-the-wall. The garbage had not been properly heat-sterilized and the virus had thus been allowed to infect the pigs. Seeing as FMD virus was apparently not present in the UK beforehand and given the import restrictions for meat from countries known to harbour FMD, it is likely that the infected meat had been illegally imported to the UK. Such imports are likely to be for the catering industry and a total ban on feeding of catering waste containing meat or meat products was introduced early in the epidemic.”
So, prima facie, it appears to me that the problem isn’t the feeding of food waste to animals which caused the problem, but the improper handling of the food itself. Assuming everything here is true and that adequate controls are put into place to ensure that food is treated properly and the correct type of food is used, I personally see no reason why people should not back this cause. Have I missed anything?
It wasn’t all happy eaters though. There were a handful of protesters who seemed to be the militant anti-meat eating lobby holding placards like “That’s my mom [you’re eating]”. However they were in the minority and most people were too busy lunching to notice.
Did ‘The Pig Idea’ achieve its awareness aims? Well, I am certainly aware of them from this event, as are many of my food loving peers. However, speaking to several people in the queues it seemed that many didn’t know what the campaign was about, or cared.
Good luck to The Pig Idea. It was a great concept and it certainly made a lot of people happy today at lunchtime!