Taste The Waste

Why do we throw away so much?

A documentary by Valentin Thurn about the global food waste. Why do we throw away so much? And how can we improve our behaviour?

A hard to believe fact: On the way from the farm to the dinner table, more than half the food gets thrown away. Half of it is being lost before it even reaches the consumer. Nobody is comfortable with this tremendous waste of precious food while many people are still starving, but what can we do?

European households throw away 100 billion Euros worth of food each year - as much as the annual turnover at Nestlé, the world´s largest food corporation. The food people throw away in Europe would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world twice!

Why are ever-greater quantities being destroyed? Thurn seeks explanations: from supermarket sales staff and managers, from bakers, wholesale market inspectors, welfare recipients, ministers, farmers and EU bureaucrats. It’s a system that we all take part in: Supermarkets constantly have the complete selection of merchandise on offer, the bread on the shelves has to be fresh until late in the evening and everything has to look just right: One withered leaf of lettuce, a crack in a potato or a dent in an apple and the goods are sorted out; containers of yoghurt as early as two days before the ‘sell by’ date has expired.

"Taste the Waste" is very suitable as ‘sharing’ DVD (to pass on to family and friends) and is a good choice for screenings with any size of audience and for secondary school classes.

This film is also available in a shortened version. However, we recommend viewing the full length version as some important themes are undeveloped in the shorter cut.

Selected for the Films for the Earth Festival 2013

"Taste the Waste" is a carefully researched and interesting film. It offers a balanced view and has a clear direction. The images per se are very effective, and interviews with strong personalities keep the audience’s attention. The film is non-judgmental, and many scenes are self-explanatory. Overall, the film-maker provides a realistic overview of the food waste situation in Europe.

"Taste the Waste" stirs up emotions constructively. Many arguments are analysed thoroughly, and the film avoids simply looking for a scapegoat. It also addresses consumers directly (“when you’re in a supermarket…”), but it could focus more on their responsibility. According to current studies, consumers and the gastronomy sector are actually responsible for 50 per cent of the total food waste. It is essential to acknowledge that not only the retailer is “the villain”, that food is a complex construct of today’s system and that the issue has to be considered in terms of the whole value chain.

The film portrays the system aspect very well, too. And it offers a fascinating perspective on the logic of estrangement. Urban people like us just consume, we have lost our sense of the value of food almost completely. "Taste the Waste" confronts us with the common view that what’s in the trash can is bad and what’s in a shop or a fridge is good. The film comes up with suggestions on how to improve the situation, for example, urban farming, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), cooking in schools or bee keeping in cities.

It is commendable that the film sheds light on both waste avoidance and resource recovery. We are confronted with a paradox. On the one hand, all our processes in food production are optimised, but on the other, enormous amounts of food are wasted every day.

The soundtrack is a bit repetitive at times.

All in all, the film is a good piece of “Austrian quality” – the last third is particularly inspiring.

Director(s): Valentin Thurn
Script: Valentin Thurn
Production: Valentin Thurn, Astrid Vandekerkhove
Music: Ralf Gromann
Actors: Klaudia Fischer, Jörn Franck, Michael Gerling, Sylvain Sadoine, Felicitas Schneider
Year: 2010
Duration: 90 min
Our age recommendation: 14
Language (audio): German
Language (subtitles): German, French, English, Spanish
Country of origin: Germany
Shooting Locations: Germany, France, Japan, Netherlands, United States, Cameroon
Screening rights: ()

Further reviews


Main topic(s): Global Food
Secondary topics: africa food waste recycling
Mentions: food waste wasting abundance consumerism food hunger food waste
Topic Page(s): Global Food The nominated films of past Films for the Earth Festivals.


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