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Your leftovers, their meals: The Rock Soup Project
“At first, we kept going around in circles thinking of ways to deal with the food. Then, we began wondering, why should all this food go to waste?” founder of Do You a Flavor A-De said.
Do You a Flavor is an organization co-founded by five young people, with a mission to turn leftover food into delicious meals for the homeless.
Most of the social welfare institutions or charities out there help the poor and underprivileged by giving them second-hand clothing and goods donated by civilians. Do You a Flavor, on the other hand, shows concern for older people picking up recycled goods off the streets, street vendors, or homeless people living on the streets.
This event, called the Rock Soup Project, was inspired by the Sunflower Student Movement, which shined a light on the excessive amount of resources in the society that have not been given to those in need. Do You a Flavor began connecting the dots between leftover food and poor and underprivileged people living without shelter on the streets. At first, they collected leftovers from people’s homes. Now, they work with fruits and vegetable markets and volunteers use fruit and vegetables near the expiration date, unsold, or “ugly” produce to create delicious meals for street people. Homeless people are often neglected and mistreated and forced to face social stigma and stereotypes. Aside from reducing food waste and raising awareness on this issue, Do You a Flavor also believes that this is the chance for volunteers to get to know homeless people more and see that they are just human, not trash.
Why waste food?
“This is an activity you probably don’t see often, but all we are doing is addressing current problems of the society. In this era, we have all lost the power to identify food.” As we gradually lose the ability to identify food, we will begin to misinterpret food.We avoid “ugly” food at supermarkets because of their appearance, like misshapen vegetables of bruised fruits.
We buy dairy products with the longest expiration date and the ones that are placed farthest back on the shelves. We are misled by expiration, best before, or use by dates on food. Nearly expired or ugly food is left in the cold, and supermarkets have no choice but to toss them away. At homes, refrigerators are also the storage for leftovers. Those preserved in the fridge for too long, but are still in good condition and haven’t gone bad are often unconsciously thrown away and go to waste.
Perhaps, this is the time to take a look at the kind of lifestyle we lead. Our seemingly harmless consumer behavior could just be the reason why food cannot be properly reused.
Bringing people closer together with food
“Social conscience is brought together by people.”
A major reason why food is wasted is due to the majority’s misconception of food. In addition to the Rock Soup Project, Do You a Flavor also regularly holds cooking classes and seminars to provide people a platform to interact and share their cooking skills and knowledge of food, or take them on a tour around food markets to see for themselves how serious the issue is. The goal is to change social conscience by planting little seeds in everyone’s jobs, lives, and the community.
Hidden in an alley in Wanhua of Taipei City, Nanji Rice is a space established by Do You a Flavor to bring the food waste revolution into the city, starting from the most basic life function in life: eating. The Rock Soup Project connects the homeless, society, and people together and unleashes their imagination of food.
Think before you eat
So, how can you and I prevent food waste?
You can plan your meals and check what’s stored in your refrigerator before you go shopping and buy only the things you need to prevent food from passing the expiry date and going bad. Choose food near the expiration date such as ripe fruit. Shop in your refrigerator first! Take whatever you already have at home and make a meal out of it.
Know your food well and how to make good use of food. For example, most children do not like stems, so you can use them to cook soup and enhance its natural sweet flavor. This is not only eco-friendly but you are able to get all the nutrients you need.
Rock Soup is a folklore passed down from generations about three monks who used their wisdom to make villagers, who originally expressed distrust towards other people, donate food from their homes and turn a tasteless pot of soup into an enriching, mouthwatering meal. With the Rock Soup Project, Do You a Flavor is confident that they will make an influence on each and every participant and the society while cooking up a new recipe in the society.