5 Dutch initiatives to help you save food and money
According to the Dutch government, one third of all food that's produced goes to waste; either it doesn’t get eaten or it's lost in harvest, storage or transportation. It’s not only a waste of water, soil and energy, but it’s also a waste of money.
Whilst the United Nations is already aiming to cut global food waste by 50 percent in 2030, it’s also up to us, the consumers and business owners to combat the situation.
Here are some Dutch initiatives to save food from being wasted whilst also saving those hard earned pennies.
Apps that save waste and pennies
Innovative entrepreneurs are coming up with new ideas every day. These two apps could come in handy when you’re hungry and strapped for cash.
› No Food Wasted app
Launched by Dutch entrepreneur, August de Vocht, NoFoodWasted’s "afgeprijsd" app aims to combat food wastage. It works by allowing supermarkets to upload products to the app that are close to their sell-by date for customers to see. The customer can then order them via the app and get a 35 percent discount upon collecting them at the supermarket.
According to De Vocht, around 400 million euros of expired products are thrown away every year by supermarkets. He thought, "What a terrible waste," and came up with a solution. He tested the app out in the Netherlands with 25 supermarkets from five different chains, and found that there was an 18 percent reduction in food waste, equating to 1,5 million worth of euros.
Although none of these are currently in Amsterdam, the app shows participating stores plotted all across the Netherlands including other major cities like Rotterdam and Leiden. Customers can even input their shopping lists ahead of time and receive notifications when an item gets close to its sell-by date.
› ResQ Club app
Launched initially in Finland, the app soon made its way down to us in the Netherlands. ResQ is an app that allows restaurants to save the food they spent so long preparing from going straight in the bin if it hasn’t been sold.
The way it works is that restaurants list the items they have left over so that customers, primarily those leaving work hungry who don’t want the fuss of cooking, can order cheap leftovers and pay using their card via the app. ResQ is currently available in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
Four Food Co-ops
Food co-operations are also a great way to save on food and money. For many decades, the Dutch economy was driven by its agricultural sector, but with the expansion of globalisation our food is more likely to come from outside of the Netherlands now.
However, with new movements to eat healthier, local produce, food co-ops in the Netherlands are on the rise again. By becoming a member of a food co-op you can buy in bulk at wholefood prices, therefore cutting out the middle man, i.e. the supermarket. Below are two examples of co-ops in Amsterdam.
Vokomokum is a hands-on co-op that sells quality organic, vegetarian food. Members can place an order once per month, and pick up their goods on the last Friday of the month at Plantage Dok.
To become a member, you have to attend an orientation evening first, which is also the last Friday of every month from 6pm to 6.45pm, and pay a 10 euro membership fee per adult per household, plus a 5 euro crate deposit.
In exchange for enjoying the services, members are expected to do a shift of a few hours every other month so that the work load is evenly distributed within the co-op community. Members may also donate their time in other ways such as helping with IT or administration, or finding new food sources.
› Food Coop Noord
FoodCoopNoord is an organisation in Amsterdam North that allows members to order every Friday from their website, and to collect their groceries the following Wednesday afternoon between 3.30pm and 7pm.
They offer fresh, locally grown, organic food that is in season, including vegetables, fruit, bread and sustainable fish. Occasionally, they also offer fruit from Italy through their partner organisation Le Galline Felici.
Membership is 10 euros per half year, and members must be willing to volunteer around four times a year on a Wednesday afternoon. If members are no available during those times, then they can choose to help out with the upkeep of the website or Facebook, write the newsletter or offer to do something else that they are good at.
The co-op also organises a monthly event for members to attend and get to know each other, including a Meet the Farmers day out at BioRomeo.
If you’re looking for organic food with more convenience, you could also opt for the VitaTas. VitaTas is a bit like Hello Fresh in that you can order a bag of fruits and veg with no strings attached.
You don’t have to volunteer your time, nor do you have to be a member. You do however, have to pay a monthly subscription and collect your bag at one of the many participating health food shops (afhaalpunten) around the Netherlands.
The restaurant that rescues
And then there are restaurants that are returning to implementing old strategies to keep food fresh for longer, namely pickling, fermenting and freezing.
What started as a pop up in Amsterdam, has now opened up restaurants in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. Instock picks up food from local Albert Heijns and other suppliers, such as imperfect fruits and veg, or day-old loafs of bread or meat and fish that are in surplus.
Once these are fetched with their electric van and brought to the kitchen, the chefs come in, look at what ingredients they have to work with, and create the menu by improvising with kilos of rescued food. For example, they might turn brown bananas into banana ice cream or a square Brussel sprout into kimchi.
They do not cook expired foods as this is against legislation. This is why 80 percent of their dishes consist of food that would otherwise be wasted, whilst 20 percent are bought items such as milk.
In addition to their restaurants, the company has also launched its own cookbook, potato brewed beer, and host their own food preserving workshops.
The No Waste Network
As an initiative set up by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands, the No Waste Network aims to reduce food waste and optimise the value of food that would otherwise be thrown out. No Waste Network works closely with the Dutch Alliance of Sustainable Foods (Alliantie Verduurzaming Voedsel), Wageningen UR and other stakeholders.
The organisation works towards cutting food losses by farmers, factories, supermarkets and the hospitality industry, as well as aiming to keep people up to date on food waste news, research and initiatives.
The No Waste Network gives advice on the best practices for reducing food waste and also has a helpdesk for businesses.
If you are passionate about food waste, and want to get involved, the website offers inspiring examples, interesting partners and organisations, handy tools and new company initiatives to help you get stuck in.
Sources: Dutch government, United Nations
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