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Monday, October 30, 2017

The Narrow Junk Food Boat

"A food waste reduction hierarchy-feeding people first, then animals, then recycling, then composting-serves to show how productive use can be made of much of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills." ~ Carol Browner, American lawyer, environmentalist, and businesswoman, who served as director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011

 Les always said, "You never know who is on a boat." We have met people on boats who had more money than Bill Gates, and we have met folks who go from hand to mouth but would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it. This is one of the amazing things about the cut which I love; the variety of people who choose to make their home for all or part of the year aboard a boat, cruising through life at 2 MPH. We are an intentional community and for the most part we look after one another.
     Today I had the privilege of meeting someone who does just that--looks after others--in a very concrete and mindful manner. Her name is Bernadette and her boat is NB The Narrow Junk Food Boat. She moored up behind me on the Bollington Aqueduct this morning and promptly put out her signs and boxes of food. That's right--boxes of food for anyone who wants or needs it, absolutely free.
     Bernadette is part of a world wide program known as The Real Junk Food Project which is a global, organic network of Pay As You Feel concepts. They divert surplus edible food destined for waste and make it accessible for human consumption. Why is this a relevant issue in 2017? Well here are some facts and figures for you:

Roughly one third of the food produced in this world for human consumption every year (approximately 1.3 billion tons) is lost or wasted. Sources: Global Food Losses and Food Waste--FAO, 2011. the environmental Crisis: The Environments Role in Averting Future Food Crises--UNEP, 2009 

Approximately 795 billion people on our planet do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That is about one in every nine people on earth!-Sources: State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2015 accessed online, 10/29/2017.

     Bernadette came to narrow boat living through hiring a Black Prince boat years ago and having such a great time, she began planning and implementing hire boat holidays for herself and her friends. When her job as a school caterer began to be too complicated with bureaucracy and red tape, more managerial than cooking, Bernadette threw in the towel. She took an early retirement and bought a boat. She has lived aboard for five years, traveling the cut and while Bernadette loved the laid back lifestyle, her brain craved stimulation. On the look out for something she could do--a project that fell in line with her personal beliefs and which she could back with her time and efforts--Bernadette found the The Real Junk Food Project Cafe in the Yorkshire town of Hebdon Bridge where she volunteered regularly. Earlier this year she filled out the application forms, paid the one hundred and sixty pound fee which included her boat trader's license and took the legal steps to become a viable part of the TRJFP. She collects out of date food from Morrisons and other supermarkets which is set to be binned and she either sets it out on the towpath or on her tug style boat deck in boxes, or she cooks up a delicious meal and offers some to anyone who is hungry for whatever donation they feel moved to make--or none at all if they are down on their luck. With years of experience feeding others on an industrial scale as a school caterer, Bernadette has good judgment about what food is acceptable to offer and what is truly spoiled and inedible. Now Bernadette owns a floating Real Junk Food Project cafe feeding bellies not bins on the cut somewhere near you!
         I was invited to help myself to whatever was laid out and I nearly fell over my feet to see a half dozen boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese meals. These are American imports!!! Over in the States a small box of Kraft Mac N Cheese costs about a dollar. Over here as an import it sells for upwards of £3.49 a box. Kraft Mac N Cheese brings back warm memories for me, as a stressed out single mother and full time University student who also worked part time. Nearly all of our meals were made from scratch by me--breakfast, lunch and dinner. Occasionally I would give in to exhaustion and buy a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I made it following the directions on the box. Then I bulked it up by draining a can of tuna fish and flaking it into the Mac N Cheese, followed by a drained can of green beans stirred into the cheesy sauce. Finally I topped it with a drizzle of Heinz 57 steak sauce. YUMMY!!! Well, I liked it and called it dinner. My daughters called it something else--as in "Oh Ma, do we have to have Shitty for dinner????" Never mind as Les would tell me, it serves me well these days when my culinary efforts on my own behalf are less than stellar. What a find!! I am chuffed to bits and very grateful. It certainly fits my very tight monthly budget.
     How did TRJFP get started?
     Adam Smith is a founder and co-director of the visionary, multi-award-winning, global initiative: The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP). Set up in December 2013, to revolutionize the disposal of avoidable food waste into landfill, the pioneering movement’s manifesto is to: feed bellies, not bins. A professional chef for over ten years, Adam has held a wealth of head chef positions, internationally. Whilst in Australia, Adam witnessed the scale of food waste, agriculturally and within the catering industry. Upon his return to the UK, he was inspired to set up TRJFP. (, accessed online on 10/29/2017.) To learn more about it please view this video:

As we witches say in one of our many blessings, "May you never hunger; may you never thirst." Blessed Be


Jennie said...

What a brilliant scheme and well done to Bernadette and everyone else involved. I do think 'dates' on a lot of food causes unnecessary waste - if it looks and smells okay then it should be fine. I hope you enjoy your Mac N Cheese - I am afraid I am with your daughters! There is not a lot I don't like, but Mac N Cheese, tuna and green beans are three of them!! Take care and safe travels up the Macc. Jennie x

Lakshmi said...

I am with u on mac n cheese. Minus tuna and green beans tho. Stay safe and keep the stories coming please. They r beautiful.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Jennie,
I imagine Tentatrice is all sorted for the winter and you and Chris are up to your ears in family and various activities.

As for Mac N Cheese, My daughters will be thrilled to know there is someone else out there who is not fond of "Shitty!" I confess we ran low on groceries the very last week of every month and so we also ate a lot of pancakes, apple rings dipped in pancake batter and fried golden, and popcorn!

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Lakshmi! How wonderful to receive a comment from you. I am trying to post but I am fighting the black dog of depression. some days I simply cannot get out of bed. I miss Les so much and my way forward in a foreign country seems very difficult and overwhelming. I am on my way to a winter mooring which has been provided by friends and it will give me breathing room and a chance to sort things out.

I am so grateful you came to visit when you did and you had the opportunity to meet Les. He really liked you. I hope you are well and happy. I miss you girlfriend!!!

Love Jaq xxx

Cuddlesceridwen said...

H Jaq
Great idea. I love Mac n Cheese when my slimming world allows. I have some news for you. 1. I have started a new blog. 2. I’m off to Turkey on the 11th of November for 6 months. My mobile number is still fine to use as Vodafone don’t charge me roaming charges. 3. If you want some winter sun! Thomas Cook do flights to Antalya over winter and then start Dalaman flights in May, Dalaman is better. Dad has gone to Devon permanently. I’m going to come back in May to clear the house and then make a decision about living full time over there. Here is the address of the new blog.
Much love to you. You can do it girl! Oh and for a non cockney, you make the best cup of tea ever. Mwah xxxxxxxx

nb Bonjour said...

What a brilliant scheme (Bernadette's boat that is, not Mac/cheese with tuna, that is revolting!) But Macaroni Cheese (as we used to call it in the UK) is ambrosia to me, though Dave would disagree. Comfort food of the highest order.
love and best wishes as the days grow shorter, Debby x

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol,

Oh I am so excited for you getting your ducks in a row and moving forward. I am relieved to hear about your dad and to know he is sorted.

I will keep the flights to Turkey in mind--thank you for the invite!

I will put a link form your new blog to ours today. It will be great to read your posts and find out how things are progressing with you.

I am so glad you love my tea! I despaired of finding anyone who actually drank a proper strong cup of tea!

Love and hugs,

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Debby!

different stokes for different folks! LOL! If I make macaroni and cheese from scratch I don't add tuna fish or green beans--it is as you say, "comfort food of the highest order." I only do that with Kraft MnC to dress it up because it is pretty basic.

I have reached my winter mooring at Higher Poynton and I am settled in now.

Stay warm and dry!

Jaq xxx

Unknown said...

Very interesting - Les would be proud of you
Jaq, I'm around (boat wintering @ Furness Vale) - please let me know when you are up for visitors?
Can come by car & take you out somewhere...
Chris xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs