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New food-sharing site hopes to cut wastage

Published: 14 Dec 2012 11:40 GMT+01:00

In Lüdwigsburg, southwestern Germany, there's an assortment of Christmas goodies up for grabs: five packets of organic muffin mix, five packets of cookie mix, and three sweet-filled advent calendars.

Meanwhile, 55 pizzas are going in Jena, as are a kilo of bananas in Munich, a packet of instant tea in Dresden, a crate of beer in Duisburg - left over from a birthday party - and a traditional German Christmas cake in Neu-Isenburg.

In total, 55 baskets of food are being offered to any takers in 25 German cities, and people can find them on the brand new internet platform www.foodsharing.de, whose operators hope to radically change the way people think about food.

Spurred by the alarming statistic that the average German throws away 80 kilos of food every year, the site offers users the chance to advertise unwanted provisions for others to use.

Both society and the environment should benefit. Those struggling to put food on the table will gain access to a variety of foodstuffs completely free of charge. At the same time, less food will be sent to landfill sites, where its decomposition can produce toxic gases.

The basic concept, according to the website, is simple: "People share food. No money should exchange hands here, because sharing also has an ethical dimension. We want to reinstate the spiritual, non-material value of food, because it is more than just a commodity."

The website is free to use: providers give details of their offerings and location, and recipients can get in touch via the website to make collection arrangements.

Anything can be offered, and for users there's a search function to locate desired goods. The website is due to become more user-friendly next year: a smart-phone app is in the pipeline, which will even include maps to guide people to the food (with cycling routes highlighted, as one would expect).

The only rule: "Don't pass anything on to others which you wouldn't eat yourself."

The Local/pmw

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Your comments about this article

12:40 December 14, 2012 by Firmino
What a brilliant idea!
13:12 December 14, 2012 by lucksi
This will be shut down to to food safety rules and no tax income from the "sales" in no time.
13:43 December 14, 2012 by Lblaney
The only rule: "Don't pass anything on to others which you wouldn't eat yourself."

I don't understand how this is supposed to keep people from throwing away food. I only throw away what is no longer edible (like expired dairy goods or meat). If I would eat it myself, I will. It seems like this website is more like a food bank without the banking part... Wouldn't it be better then to ask for in-kind donations and/or money so that food can be bought in bulk and given to the poor?

If the real issue is food waste, I'd appreciate a website with tips on how to plan better shopping and how to freeze meals or leftovers so they don't go bad much more than the opportunity to invite people to come pick up my old muffin mix.
14:04 December 14, 2012 by raandy
It is too bad this will not work. To much liability, anyone can do something to the food and remain anonymous. Unless the items are in never opened sealed can I would not take a chance and feed it to my family.

Eventually some one will, Murphy's Law.
14:44 December 14, 2012 by yllusion
Such a basic principle and until today it is not developed. We have in the western world big supermarket chains, restaurants everywhere, and a huge amount of food is wasted instead of being used to feed the poor or to generate other types of useful products. Also a huge amount of food is wasted when there is over production by farmers. It should be a CRIME to waste food. There should be a network for collecting food from restaurants and supermarkets the same way as we have collection of garbage from our doors. Leftovers from restaurants, when certified, could be donated to the poor or to local communitary cantines. Food and products about to expire should be given also to institutions for donation to the poor. Over production by farmers should be collected and led to the same destination. Any kind of waste should be a crime and those people should go to jail for disrespecting not only nature, but those who can't afford food and have to see people throwing them away by the tons.
16:23 December 14, 2012 by catjones
yllusion should be Delusion.
16:50 December 14, 2012 by simski
yllusion, there is exactly that: The Bundesverband Deutsche Tafel e.V. collects leftover food from restaurants and supermarkets to feed the poor and many restaurant owners go out of their way to ensure their leftovers get to those who need it (without making a profit). Maybe it should be a crime to go on rants without knowing what you are talking about?

As for the website, it's a nice enough idea, but I doubt that it will work very well. Like LBlaney I only throw away food that has gone bad and I suspect it's like that for many people. If I was good enough at planning to put food up on the website in time, I probably wouldn't have any leftovers. Sure, sometimes people will remember to put their stuff up in time, but a website like this needs a critical mass to come into use and I doubt there will be enough interest to reach that crtical mass.
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