Taste Before You Waste


Since 2012, Taste Before You Waste, an Amsterdam East based initiative has been raising awareness about the prevention of food waste at the consumer level. With the help of volunteers who cook, deliver by carrier cycle, who design and write blogs as well as small, independent grocery stores and an organic farmer in Flevoland, the foundation organizes free food markets two times per week, food-saving workshops, and cater no-waste dinners. They offer special pricing for organizations that are also trying to make an impact and all of the activities they offer on their own initiative are pay-as-you-feel in order to make it accessible for everybody. They also have an educational program that teaches children the benefits of food conservation as well as donating to charities. Taste Before You Waste has been starting up chapters all over the Netherlands; Bussum, Utrecht, and Bergen all have adopted the program. Recently, the initiative has gone international with a chapter in Canada.

Founder Luana Carretto is no stranger to social consciousness. She started traveling extensively after high school and doing volunteer work. She then spent a couple of years translating for the Venus Project, an organization that proposes a feasible plan of action for social change. After watching a documentary on food waste, Luana Carretto became an anti-food waste activist. She and her husband, Dennis, began picking up surplus food at 10 local shops and driving it to Amsterdam West to a large group of refugees (We Are Here). Later, Luana collaborated with “Op de Valreep”, a local squat in Amsterdam East with the goal of arranging an alternative food bank. Soon after, she decided that she needed to set up her own organization and with the help of friends and a carrier cycle, she began Taste Before You Waste. Luana, along with her friend, Sophia Bensch, decided to take on the project full time and as of the 10th of February 2016, Taste Before You Waste was registered in the Chamber of Commerce and became an official Foundation.

The environmental impacts of food waste are staggering. Food production creates pollution and agricultural problems such as the soil erosion and degradation that happened in America during The 1930’s (known as the Dust Bowl) that left millions starving. The packaging of food is usually plastic which when produced is extremely harmful as well as non-biodegradable. There is also the transport of food by truck and airplane which uses fossil fuels contributing to drilling in our oceans and fracking which pollutes drinking water and destroys ecosystems. When food starts to pile up in landfills, it starts to produce methane which is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gasses and has been tied to climate change and the damaging of our ozone layer. “Researchers say that if global food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses”, says Luana.

The social impact of wasting food is also something to be considered. Tristram Stuart, the award-winning author, speaker, and expert on the environmental and social impacts of food waste has written several books on the subject. He says that in a way we are all behaving murderously toward our fellow human being because we buy more than we need and cause starvation among the less fortunate. In a global market, prices are made on the basis of supply and demand. Nations buying more food than they can consume are driving up the price of food which makes it harder for poorer countries to buy food for their people. For example, the Netherlands buys three times more food than they actually need. Industrialized countries are the biggest contributors of waste, but that is “not a negative thing” says Luana. “It is good that we are responsible because then we have the power to change it. There are not many things we have control over on an individual level while food waste is one of those things you can have a lot of impact simply by adapting your own behavior.” She adds, “It is very disrespectful to your fellow human being to be throwing away food while there are still people going hungry.”

With 38% of food waste in the Netherlands coming from individuals, Taste Before You Waste wants to educate people about the amount of food that is thrown away and how we can prevent it on an individual level. With small changes like cooking smaller portions, using the entire fruit or vegetable (even the ugly parts), and thinking creatively (over ripe fruit is perfect for smoothies), one can promote change in the way we view and consume food. Food is the very basis of life on this planet. Without it, an organism cannot survive and we as humans often forget this. In an age of information, it is getting easier to organize and gather the necessary information to lead a more socially conscious life. Taste Before You Waste is “effective because it is a low threshold for consumers”, Luana says and that it is important that it is “for and by the people”. By simply educating yourself, you can take direct action in this social and environmental movement.

Check the website for information on how you can volunteer, donate, attend a workshop or dinner or to find out more about what you can do at home to be a food hero. You can do that here.

This article was written by win harms and originally appeared in Amsterdam Alternative






Paris Scratch


A review of bart plantenga’s latest book

I felt it would be disingenuous of me to review this objectively because as I was reading Paris Scratch by bart plantenga, it was personal. I read it on European metros while going through my own artistic crises; I perused it while curled up listening to the Pogues on Xmas in Amsterdam remembering my Paris; I gleefully dog-eared passages, which are arranged as snapshots of plantenga’s life in the city of light, so that I could read them to people whom I recognized in those pages. It was the same type of diary I kept while I explored that same city as a down and out flaneuse. Even though bart plantenga is Dutch, his style/syntax/eye feels American bred because in a sense it was. His parents immigrated to the USA from the Netherlands in 1960 after surviving nazi work camps and the Dutch Famine of 1944. bart was 6 and his subsequent upbringing and literary influences are typical of those expats who cross the Atlantic in search of inspiration among Paris’ cafés, winding streets, and elegant architecture.

.bartp   bart plantenga, L’Enfant terrible

The myth of the hard-drinking, sexually free, renaissance man who gives the middle finger to society and takes off for Europe with a few dollars in his pocket has been going strong since Hemingway and his Lost Generation. They published novels about being drunk, in love, and above all, free after the end of WWI. Later, Henry Miller would wander around with the Hungarian photographer, Brassai screwing prostitutes and trying to scrape up enough for a hot and a cot. The theme is the same: suffering is worth it because at least they can WRITE. This feeling oozes off the page in plantenga’s book as he explores themes of lust and dejection with a rock and roll eye and a cowboy mouth. Any expat artist can recognize his/herself in the shadow of the Sacre Coeur guzzling wine while expounding on Baudelaire and Situationism. Anyone else can live vicariously through plantenga’s recounts of those adventures. In 100 years, it hasn’t changed: the romantic vision of the Writer in Paris.

plantenga looks at Paris through a photographic lens and is just as unapologetic. Whether it is the views from the window of his apartment, while sitting at a café, or riding his bike in the rain, he records the tableaux as he sees them with no judgment. Some poems show a melancholy fragility like when he describes accidently leaving his journal behind in a bar and returning to find some British tourists reading it aloud and laughing. He expertly juxtaposes scenes of watching a transvestite adjusting their secret package in a moment when they feel they are unobserved to a child being chided by his maman as he hides from her. He describes the innocence and underbelly of society bittersweetly like he is at that moment remembering something lost.

In Paris Scratch, the young man among the whores, booze, and anti-establishment avant-garde sowing his oats and trying to shed the constraints of traditional society could feel forced or trite by a more sentimental author. However, these scenes are displayed with humor and an innate understanding of the absurdity that he is witnessing. The certain impishness with which plantenga approaches the trysts he writes about makes one imagine, much like one does with Miller, that these encounters were met with indulgent smiles from these women who knew they were fodder for the author’s physical and literary needs. But this may tie into my own interpretations as good poetry should resonate somewhere deep inside yourself. Those times when a poet captures a moment, an instant in time that you too experienced in a different or maybe parallel time. A part of the collective conscious perhaps, the conscious of people who will never see enough and always live to tell the tale.

Paris Scratch & its companion, NY Sin Phoney in Face Flat Minor are available from Sensitive Skin.

Photo: self-portrait in photo booth, Paris

bart plantenga is the eclectic author of 2 internationally acclaimed books on yodeling: Yodel In HiFi: From Kitsch Folk to Contemporary ElectronicaYodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World, produced the Rough Guide to Yodel CD compilation & the YODEL IN HIFI Top 50+ Youtube channel. He also writes fiction: BEER MYSTIC, Spermatagonia: The Isle of Man & Wiggling Wishbone (Autonomedia). He’s currently working on the Amsterdam-Brooklyn novel Radio Activity Kills with his daughter.

He has been a DJ since 1986, producing Wreck This Mess in NY (WFMU), Paris (Radio Libertaire), Amsterdam (100 & Patapoe) & currently online. In 2014, he won the David Tudor Memorial4’33” Competition. He writes, bikes, produces his radio show, & lives in Amsterdam with partner Nina & daughter Paloma Jet.