Fruit Magpie, or how an everyday London citizen makes wonders from fruit waste.
An interview with Hazel Griffiths, founder of Fruit Magpie.
- The estimated annual food waste in the UK stands at approx. 10 million tonnes (of which 60% could have been avoided) valued at over £17 billion a year and associated with around 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- At the same time, 2 million people in the UK are estimated to be malnourished, and 3 million are at risk of becoming so.
Everyone has a role to play to end such an alarming situation. Companies targeting food waste have received attention from the UK media, especially in 2016, but everyday people are also doing their part to find solutions. Sometimes they even turn them into businesses like Hazel Griffiths, founder of Fruit Magpie.
# How did she get started?
“Food waste was key when I started… I just thought I didn’t want to waste all this lovely fruit,” she explains. “There’s a phenomenal amount of excess fruit in London from so many fruit trees and if they’re happy they will produce far more than you will ever need.”
She had a quince tree in her garden which was giving more fruits than she could eat (100kg/year). She started a little experiment and made “fruit cheese” by cooking quince with sugar and lemon juice. She gave it to a cheese maker in Tottenham, North London, who loved it and started to sell it with his cheeses with great success. She then created the brand Fruit Magpie et voilà.
# How does she get all her supply?
Her quince tree is definitely not enough anymore but she is still using surplus fruits. Neighbours and community groups who have heard about her initiative let her harvest fruits from their allotments or private gardens, which are likely to have grown without any chemicals. If they are not used immediately, she will freeze the fruit pulp until it is required.
# How did she get noticed?
In 2016, she decided to compete for the Urban Food Awards, an event that celebrates the hard work and remarkable contributions of urban growers/producers/retailers. At the awards night, which was hosted by the mayor of London, she rightfully won in the category “Proper Preserves”.
Earlier this year, she was approached to be one of the suppliers for the first ever UK CEO CookOff, a massive fundraising event hosted by Jamie Oliver.
# Why her initiative is important
There is a lot of surplus fruit, vegetables and nuts in gardens, allotments and in the countryside that goes to waste every year. We can add value to those produces instead of just turning them into compost (when 95% of fruits consumed in the UK are imported).
Just to name a few other initiatives: 1) The Fruit Exchange collects excess fruits and gets them to local food outlets such as restaurants, pubs and cafes to use them 2) Abundance London harvests local fruits to make jams and preserves, or to sell the surplus to local restaurants and shops on a non-profit basis 3) Transition Kensal to Kilburn collect 1.5 tonnes of apples, pears and plums from local back gardens and gives most to schools and community groups.
But we need many more initiatives and ideas.
# Want to learn more
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