With 40-50 hungry volunteers to feed every day, can you imagine how much a weekly food shop would cost us? Thankfully, this isn’t something we have to worry about as we’re actually a Freegan community!
What is Freegan?
Freeganism is a sustainable way of living that means we eat food that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. According to The World Counts, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted ever year, that’s a third of the food produced every year going straight in the bin!! By being freegan, we help the environment by reducing waste while also keeping our food bill at a whopping 0€, win-win! A lot of people believe that being freegan also means being vegan, but that isn’t always the case. The food we get sometimes includes meat and dairy produce. Fresh unprocessed meat feeds our ferrets and quality dairy is an occasional treat for our pigs. Our founders Emma and Edo are vegan so we make sure the sanctuary doesn’t buy into anything that isn’t vegan, but it’s up to each individual what they want to eat. Although our volunteer kitchen team cook mainly vegan for the community meals, there is always something for everyone no matter their preferences if they choose to cook for themselves. Our main goal with freeganism is to promote a sustainable lifestyle and save food from waste. Promoting a vegan lifestyle is also a priority, we have found freeganism is a great middle-ground and a stepping stone in the right direction. Many volunteers have converted to freegan or vegan, they just made the leap without us being pushy about our beliefs. We believe seeing and experiencing the lifestyle and benefits creates greater results.
So how do we do it?
Starting our project we used to spend hours “dumpster diving” which wasn’t always reliable for the amount of food we needed. However, as we grew in size our techniques grew too. We’re lucky to have established relationships with different supermarkets, farms and food distributors across the island who generously give us access to their waste, damaged, out-of-date or misshapen produce. Straight into our van rather than via a bin! Every day, our team of dedicated volunteers collect the food from our suppliers and bring it back to the finca for us to sort through. Being freegan does mean we’re never quite sure what we’re going to get in from one day to the next, which means sometimes our kitchen team need to get creative! But with loads of food arriving at the finca every day, we always have something fresh and tasty to eat. Sometimes the food we receive is a little past its best for us humans to eat, but not to worry, we have a team of pigs, ducks, chickens and rodents who are more than happy to take it off our hands. Sometimes the produce we have left isn’t suitable for our animal friends, but that's ok too, we have an ever-growing compost pile that any scraps go to. This compost is then used to grow our own plants on the finca, so it really is one big sustainable cycle! We also make sure that the mountains of packaging that come with the food is all recycled correctly to save more and more plastic ending in landfill.
After feeding our team of volunteers, and animals, we sometimes still have perfectly good food left to spare (yes, really!). To prevent this from being wasted, we are currently in the process of finalising the documentation to register the finca as a food bank, meaning we can provide food to low-income families across the island as well as other animal sanctuaries.