Food Waste and Brown Bananas

On Tuesday the 17th of March 2015 the student-run Foodies Society at the University of Sussex hosted a panel discussion as part of the One World Week celebrations. The discussion was on the theme of Food: Where are We Now? Where are We Going?

The panelists for the discussion were food author Colin Spencer, 5-a-day pioneer Dr Carol Williams (University of Brighton), and representatives from The Real Junk Food Project Brighton.

Discarding Edible Food

Part of the discussion focused on the amount of food which is wasted at a local and global scale. The Real Junk Food Project collects surplus food from supermarkets, and increasingly from households. The food they collect is often close to or just beyond the ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ dates marked on the packaging which means supermarkets can no longer sell it to customers. This doesn’t, however, mean that the food produce is unsuitable for consumption.

The Real Junk Food Project collects this surplus food which would otherwise be wasted and sent to landfill. The food produce is prepared into delicious meals, snacks and treats and sold at cafes which employ a ‘pay as you feel’ policy whereby customers can pay whatever they consider the food they have eaten to be worth. If individuals are not able to pay anything they are still able to eat and can help out in the cafe by doing washing up or other things to help out.

The Real Junk Food Project is currently active in 35 cities internationally. In Brighton, the Project collects approximately 1.9 tonnes of surplus food in a three-week period – that’s 1.9 tonnes of edible food that would have been thrown away in one city in just three weeks, and at the moment they are only collecting food surplus from a couple of supermarkets locally.

Brown bananas - would you eat them?

Brown bananas – would you eat them?

Brown Bananas

During the discussion Carol Williams outlined the history of nutritional advice around consumption of fruit juices and fruit smoothies and her ongoing research into this. In light of the discussion about food waste the panelists spoke about fresh fruit which is discarded because it is going soft or brown. Attention turned to bananas which are going brown, how frequently they are discarded as waste, and how they can be used to make delicious smoothies.

The panel held a quick poll of those in the room to see how many people would eat a banana which is brown and gooey. Most of the people in attendance said they would eat a brown banana.

BSUFN are now extending this informal poll. We want to know whether you would eat a brown, soft, or gooey banana. Would you eat the bananas in the photo above or would you throw them away? Let us know by commenting below, tweeting us at @BSUFN using the hashtag #BSUFNbananas, or by e-mail. We will share the outcome of this poll about food waste and brown bananas in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, if you are someone who doesn’t eat a soft brown banana, before throwing them away why not turn them into a fresh fruit smoothie or bake some banana bread as a little treat?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thank you!


4 thoughts on “Food Waste and Brown Bananas

  1. rachaelctaylor Post author

    Yes, I eat soft, brown, gooey bananas. When I’m working in Northern Ghana all of the bananas are soft and brown, it’s just how bananas come there. Softer bananas are sweeter too.

  2. Elise Wach

    Yes I eat them. Even better, I bake with them. If I am not ready to bake, I put them in the freezer for when I am ready (this is also good for smoothies). Perhaps supermarkets and shops could start freezing the bananas that are going brown? Hisbe does the same with their meat products.

  3. Ruth Segal

    I don’t eat brown bananas, but I do make banana bread with them, and freeze them to use later. Apparently frozen bananas are the basis of a dairy-free ice-cream too, but my daughter hasn’t passed on the recipe yet!


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