If you saw Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast a few weeks ago you may have seen Sam Joseph from The Real Junk Food Project's Bristol outpost Skipchen espousing the use of food that's destined for the bin. It's one of many cafés – 89 nationally – using food donated by restaurants, food banks, caterers, businesses, the public, you name it, and charging on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
According to spokesman Justin Mortimer, The Real Junk Food Project 'is widely regarded as a food revolution.' And it's a revolution that started in Leeds.
In December 2013, The Real Junk Food Project opened their pay-as-you-feel café in Armley and have since plated up several thousand servings of intercepted waste food. They're doing so with an eye on our austere times, too. Customers pay as they feel, dropping whatever they think their meal warrants – 50p, £5, £10, nothing – into a pot.
The Real Junk Food Project
Adam Smith, a Yorkshire chef, founded The Real Junk Food Project alongside students Sam Jospeh and Conor Walsh. Everyone involved in the Armley café is from a catering background. 'It's not gruel, it's tasty, nutritious,' says Justin. And forget food poisoning: 'That's generally something to do with how food is prepared or stored, not how old it is.'
The idea has caught on like wild fire with cafés and pop-ups opening across the UK – independents who ask The Real Junk Food Project mothership in Leeds for advice and assistance. 'It's a radical movement,' says Justin. With nearly 50 tonnes of food saved, and all of it served on a pay-as-you-feel basis, you can't argue with that.
Adam Smith speaking about the Real Junk Food Project at TEDx Warwick
Real Junk Food Project's original hub in Armley is currently under threat, but these anti-waste crusaders have been raising funds and are on target to buy the building. They plan to renovate and open a cooking school with the proceeds.
You can do your bit by eating at their temporary outpost – an ambulance in the Trinity Kitchen, which is open until February 7. Stuff your face with a conscience.
Visit The Real Junk Food Project for more information.