Food Drinks

The Kiwis who are reducing food waste in NZ - and how you can help

Be inspired by the zero-waste foodies who are working with and redistributing food destined for the rubbish bin.

Addressing hunger and tackling food waste. That's Fair Food NZ's vision. The West Auckland organisation's ethos encapsulates the objectives of the food-rescue movement, highlighting the paradox that sees people go hungry while perfectly good produce is thrown out every day.

Fair Food NZ and other organisations, such as Wellington's Kaibosh, Christchurch's City Harvest and KiwiHarvest based in Dunedin and Auckland, are working to redistribute some of that food to people in need. 'Ugly' or less-than-perfect produce, food nearing its expiration date and other unsold items are collected and donated to food banks and community groups to distribute.

A few innovative businesses and not-for-profits are also using leftovers in creative ways. Dunedin's Coach House Boutique Bakery has made a name for itself with its zero-waste stance and delicious baked goods. Owner Victoria Madison makes oatcakes using spent grains from Emerson's Brewery and 'compost cookies' with leftover fruit and vege peelings and other items destined for the bin.

She forages for elderflower to make kombucha, swaps cookies for imperfect produce (ideal for baking) at farmers' markets, and uses leftover whey from Evansdale Cheese to make caramel fudge, fermented lemonade and ricotta.

Victoria became aware of the issue of food waste while working in Queenstown's hospitality industry.

"Food waste is not just about what's not being utilised in the kitchen," she says.

"It's also due to things like portion sizes, which are so ridiculously massive nowadays."

Compost queen Victoria Madison bakes up a storm using ingredients destined for the rubbish bin. She sells her cakes, pies, cookies and more at the Coach House Boutique Bakery situated in a historic outbuilding in her Dunedin backyard.
Compost queen Victoria Madison bakes up a storm using ingredients destined for the rubbish bin. She sells her cakes, pies, cookies and more at the Coach House Boutique Bakery situated in a historic outbuilding in her Dunedin backyard.

As a single parent she learnt to be "careful and creative" in order to reduce costs and ensure her kids ate their veges. She focused on food waste during her culinary arts degree at Otago Polytechnic, and launched her business Revival Food Co at the Otago Farmers' Market during her final year of study.

Last year, Victoria swapped the market stall for a historic building in her backyard – a former coach house that had been relocated from the city centre years ago. The Coach House Boutique Bakery operates on Thursdays and Saturdays, and serves as a base for Victoria's catering business.

"Great taste, no waste" is her motto. "It's about being creative with your leftovers," she says.

How you can help
> Have a surplus of food from a business, event or your garden? Offer it to your local food-rescue organisation – foodrecovery.nz lists some charities you can contact.

> Volunteer with KiwiHarvest (Auckland or Dunedin), or get in touch with your local food-rescue charity.

> Check out Coach House Boutique Bakery at 4 Ings Avenue, St Clair, Dunedin; open Thursday and Saturday, 7.30am-1pm (unless sold out prior).

> Visit Everybody Eats on Monday nights from 5 February at Gemmayze Street, St Kevins Arcade, 183 Karangahape Road, Auckland. Sign up to donate food or volunteer through facebook.

> Visit lovefoodhatewaste.com for waste-reduction recipes and tips on how to keep food out of the bin.

> You can donate small amounts of food to a community fridge – there is one in central Auckland (25/31 Wellesley Street West) and one in east Christchurch (46 Hawke Street).

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