Author & Campaigner; 2014 Emerging Explorer
Photograph by Adrian Brooks/Imagewise
Photograph by Silvio Palladino, Unveil Arts
Author and campaigner Tristram Stuart is a renowned activist waging a worldwide war against food waste. One-third of the world's food is wasted from plow to plate. The planet's one billion hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food wasted in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe. Irrigation used to grow food that is thrown away could meet the domestic water needs of nine billion people. The scale of food waste was largely unexposed and unaddressed until Stuart's book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal was published, and his grassroots initiatives lifted the topic to priority status worldwide. In 2009, he launched Feeding the 5000 in London. This free public feast of food that would otherwise be wasted has been replicated around the world. His "Pig Idea" campaign seeks to change laws that restrict using food waste to feed pigs. He also has successfully campaigned for U.K. retailers to relax strict cosmetic standards for fruit and vegetables, and his Gleaning Network initiative sends thousands of volunteers into fields to harvest surplus produce that would otherwise rot. The food is then given to U.K. charities that distribute it to the hungry.
Where were you born?
Where do you currently live?
What inspires you to dedicate your life to your work?
I bought some pigs when I was 15 and fed them on the leftovers of the school canteen and from other local businesses; it opened my eyes to the scale of the global food waste scandal. As an environmentalist then, I knew we were cutting down rain forests to grow more food and that there were millions of hungry people in the world. It seemed obvious that food waste was an injustice and one we could relatively easily solve.
What has been your most rewarding or memorable experience in your field?
Winning the international environmental award, the Sophie Prize, in 2011.
What's a normal work day like for you?
One day I'll be with a team of volunteers saving apples from being left to rot in an orchard; the next I'll be in a meeting with government ministers of supermarket directors helping them see why and how they can tackle the problem at its root.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If you could have people do one thing to help save the Earth, what would it be?
Eat what you buy, buy what you need, and use your power as customer and citizen to demand that the businesses you buy from also stop wasting food.
In Their Words
We want to catalyze a food waste revolution one person, one town, one country at a time—helping stop needless hunger and environmental destruction across our planet.
More About Stuart's Projects
Western countries throw out nearly half of their food—because it doesn’t look appealing.