I first heard of The Pig Idea during a discussion at The Royal Geographical Society on “Feeding the 9 billion” where Edd Colbert,The Pig Idea’s coordinator, made of very good case for this campaign and his vision of selling eco-pork on British supermarket shelves (watch it here).
Since its launch last June, the campaign has attracted some high profile supporters such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Michel Roux Jr, Giles Coren, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tom Parker Bowles, Sarah Cox, Janet Street-Porter, Ben Fogle to name a few.
Started by food waste expert Tristram Stuart and the Feeding the 5,000 team in partnership with chef Thomasina Miers, The Pig Idea is a very simple idea: tackle food waste by feeding it directly to pigs. Nothing new really as historically, pigs have always been fed human food waste. Yet today British pigs are fed on crops that humans can also eat such as wheat, soy and maize.
The Pig Idea campaign explains that “In the decades following the Second World War, the pig’s status as a food waste recycler continued to decline, due to factors such as changing animal feed legislation and the availability of cheaper grain. Some swill feeding did continue, on a large and small scale, until 2001, when the practice came to a sudden end in Britain. The United Nations estimates that if farmers all around the world fed their livestock on agricultural by-products, and on the food that we currently waste, enough grain would be liberated to feed an extra three billion people – more than the additional number expected to be sharing our planet by 2050.”
We waste a lot of food so feeding pigs with it makes a lot of sense. This would not only save grain crops to help feed more people but also tackle high costs of commercial grain faced by farmers, protect forests that are being cut down to make space for growing crops and also address other environmental and cost issues around food waste. According to The Pig Idea, the carbon emissions savings of feeding food waste to pigs can be around 20 times greater than sending the same food waste for anaerobic digestion.
The Pig Idea is perfectly safe as the waste is first treated at high temperatures eliminating potential pathogens before being fed to the pigs. The technique is currently used in Japan.
The Pig Idea Feast
21st November in London’s Trafalgar Square!
So for the past 7 months, The Pig Idea team has been collecting waste from restaurants around London and rearing eight pigs at London’s Stepney City Farm on a healthy diet of spent brewer’s grains, whey, unsold fruit and veg and okara (a tofu byproduct) – all food which would otherwise have been composted or sent to landfill. The pork produced from the pigs is to be served up by some of the UK’s best restaurants and chefs during The Pig Idea Feast next Thursday at Trafalgar Square.
From 12 till 4pm there will be an array of free food and family-friendly activities. So come and join the feast – and let them eat waste! What’s more, it’s all free!
(Don’t eat pork? Don’t despair – Wahaca will also be serving up some delicious winter vegetable tacos and their trademark guacamole.)