Culinary Misfits – against discarded foodstuff

On Saturday, on my way to the Ökorausch festival in Cologne, I heard a podcast which wowed me so much, that I have to write about this story first.

Shamefully, my fellow citizens don’t value food very much: Germans stinginess when it comes to their spendings on food is already proverbial: They are amongst the 5 European nations which spend the least on food (less than 10% of their household income). But that’s not mortifying enough: Germans throw 1/8 of this food unthinkingly away. You think 1/8 of 1/10 is not much? Well, according to the German ministry of consumer protection this numbers mean 81,6 kg discarded foodstuff per person and year. As most of this waste is avoidable, German consumers could save 235 Euro per person and year spend 235 Euro per person and year more for better quality or invest it in more sustainable ways of production.

There have been several counter-motions: the ministry’s campaign “Zu gut für die Tonne” (too good for the bin), the movie and the recipe book “Taste the Waste”, and special events like “Schnippeldisko” which aim to raise awareness for the special qualities of fresh, natural ingredients and self-prepared meals compared to the omnipresent fast and convenience food.

Source: BMELV

But unfortunately that’s not the whole story of wasted food!

According to ARTE, about 230 mio. t fruits, vegetables and grain are produced in the EU every year, almost half the harvest (ca. 100,000,000,000 kg) are left behind and ploughed in or fed to animals.

Why is that?

Those veggies and fruit are too individualistic and special to meet the EU norms, they are too small, too big, too curved or too straight to please the consumers. Therefore they don’t reach the supermarket shelves. They are 100 mio. t of squandered food, although they are leastwise as healthy and as tasteful as their perfectly and uniformly shaped fellow vegetables and fruit.

Two Berlin designers (Lea Brumsack und Tanja Krakowski) who share a passion for the creative preparation of pleasurable, tasteful and various meals decided to save those “culinary misfits“. They co-operate with two local organic farmers who are happy to let them have their disdained and abandoned harvest to a truly fair price, which means a substantial extra income for the farmers and a basis of business for Lea and Tanja. Most often the two pick and truck the culinary misfits themselves.

Back in Berlin, they create seasonal vegetarian snacks and meals which they sell at a farmer’s market, at a little cart in the streets of Berlin or as catering at special events like the ethical fashion show or the welthungerhilfe congress. They obviously love to play with the shapes, colours, tastes and names of their food and create surprisingly extraordinary dishes.

As a next step Lea and Tanja plan to crowdfund a little shop in Kreuzberg or Neukölln where they plan to sell unprocessed misfits, a small number of daily alternating meals and snacks made from misfits and in addition preserved misfits products.


You would like to learn more about the culinary misfits project? Please visit their own website.

(Unfortunately, this time all of my sources are only in German)