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Just Eat It, a documentary against food waste

An amused and amusing tone to talk about a serious topic. An experiment to denounce the waste of food. Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer care about the environment and are sadly impressed by the crazy amount of food that the society throws away. The food waste makes 40% of food production go to landfill and it represents a serious environmental, economic and moral issue. These are the premises of Just Eat It, A Food Waste Story, a documentary which shows that living on food rejected by the society is possible.

That’s what Jenny, the co-star and producer of the film confirms: “Our previous film, The Clean Bin Project, was on living zero waste, so we became very interested in what people were throwing out. We had no idea that edible food was ending up in the trash, but when we heard that 40% of food goes to landfill while there are hungry people in our backyards, it struck a chord”.

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Therefore, the Canadian couple took a challenge and for 6 months kept on eating exclusively food saved from the garbage, that is expired or about to expire foodstuffs, damaged or nonstandard products. Their experiment became a narrative pretext to analyse the problem, providing data or presenting some experts’ opinion about it.

The damages of this lack of consumption affect the whole production cycle, dissipating the energies and resources of the entire agroindustrial chain. The issue can be no longer underrated. Experts evaluate that 4% of energy consumption in the US is used for the production of food that is thrown away, while the water consumption could satisfy 500 million people’s needs. Moreover what goes to landfill or is burnt instead of being composted causes air pollution and gas emissions, that are the main cause of the climate change, a serious danger for our planet.

What we throw away without thinking sometimes not even reaches the shop. The reasons of such waste are to be retraced in aesthetic criteria and in the strict rules of the retailing. Institutions, laws, producers, shops and consumers… We are all involved and nobody can be excluded or considered less guilty.

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The main waste takes place at home, where a “culture of surplus” related to the consumerist society persists. The responsibilities of individuals are retraceable during the act of purchasing: in this phase, we think about appearance, with the obsessive, unjustified conviction that beautiful means better. Then there are abundant quantities, a wrong schedule for meals, besides gross mistakes of conservation in huge fridges full of food. A lot of waste is generated by the incapability of reading labels and understand the expiring dates.

For these reasons, the protagonists find a big amount of high quality food, and the real challenge becomes being able to eat all that food. As Jenny tells us, they are convinced that the documentary can push people to rethink their habits: “We have tried to entertain audiences while also informing them, so the documentary has such power to create change. We want people to walk away both educated and entertained. We like to make the types of films we want to watch. Grant, the director, is very inspired by the cinematography of action sports films (3D photos, sliders, time-lapses, etc), so we tried to bring that type of imagery to documentary, a genre that was traditionally considered dry. We’ve had audiences from adults to kids as young as 6 really enthused about it, so for me, that’s success”.

After being presented at the last edition of CinemAmbiente Festival in Turin, the film is collecting several awards: among them, inside the Green Film Network, Just Eat it received the “Best Canadian Feature” at the Planet in Focus Festival in Toronto. The documentary has been considered a good instrument to start a dialogue with the new generations through the project “Una Buona Occasione” (“A Good Chance”) in Italy. By means of this campaign aiming to prevent food waste and change incorrect behaviours in this field, CinemAmbiente has been distributing the documentary to schools. Knowing that food waste represents a big fail for everyone.