The Real Junk Food Project
For any newcomers, The Real Junk Food Project is an initiative that started in Leeds, with the aim of appropriating the tonnes of perfectly good food thrown out by supermarkets each day and turning it into healthy meals to be provided to the neighbourhood on a pay-as-you-feel basis. It’s been brought to Brighton (of course it has) and after a number of successful pop-ups, has found a regular home in the One Church on Gloucester Place on Friday lunchtimes.
The common image of freegans is that of unfussy skip-raiders, scaling fences and scoffing gone-off chicken by moonlight. But even the critics would have to agree this concept’s a valid one – according to The Real Junk Food Project’s website, some 4.3 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away each year by retailers in the UK, whilst over 900,000 people regularly use food banks. This isn’t an anti-capitalist stealth movement either: it’s a collaboration between the supermarkets and other outlets and the people who want to help. There’s not even any illicit late-night skulking around.
In conclusion, it’s a noble concept, and run by people who truly want to make the world a better place. Noble concepts don’t always make for delicious meals though, so I decided to put my stomach on the line and head down for the launch lunch. Lovers of scandal, you will be disappointed. The food was great. My initial nerves were eased by a table laden with all kinds of fresh bread, pastries, Danishes and some slightly battered looking doughnuts. An experienced barista offered up Small Batch Coffee and discussed their new apprenticeship scheme. Fresh oranges were being rolled into a juicer and the Church was a charming location furnished with an array of different styles of chairs and tables, as well as being clean, well-lit and bustling with helpful volunteers. The pumpkin and cumin soup was hearty and thick with a balanced sweetness. We didn’t try the vegetable curry, but the chicken version was rustic and wholesome, packed with onions, mushrooms and tomatoes. Served with rice and mixed salads, as well as chutneys and cheese, the menu was filling, varied and nutritious.
The Real Junk Food Project is an innovation that Brighton needs. Helmed by the passionate Adam Buckingham, it’ll be at One Church every Friday lunchtime and at Churchill Square’s farmers’ market every Wednesday, as well as at other events you can find out about online. Any scheme that encourages both gastronomy and community-mindedness, and does it so well, gets a big thumbs-up from us.
Find out about The Real Junk Food Brighton’s news and events on their Facebook page.
Words by Jessica Marshall McHattie
Photo by Thom Undrell