Sustainable food news: A brilliant "Pig Idea"

A happy pig.
Out-of-date carrot - nice piggy snack (photo: James Perrin).
It may have escaped your attention, but today is World Environment Day – the annual United Nations-initiated celebration of positive environmental action. Whether we like it or not, food production has a considerable global environmental impact, resulting from energy consumption, habitat destruction, pesticide use, and so on. It’s therefore somewhat disturbing that around one third of all the food produced annually for human consumption – a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes – is either wasted or lost. Cue a new campaign launched to coincide with World Environment Day which sets out to raise awareness of food waste and the role pigs – yes, pigs – can play in addressing this.

The Pig Idea is calling for the many tonnes of food we waste each year in the UK to be put to a more productive use, instead finding its way onto the menu for one of our favourite meat animals – the pig. Initiated by Thomasina Miers – former Masterchef winner, cookery writer and restaurateur – and food waste expert, Tristram Stuart, the campaign is calling for a change in European law to allow for a return to the traditional practice of feeding pigs with waste food. Other high-profile supporters of the initiative – brilliantly describes as “Hambassadors” – include River Cottage supremo Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and BBC Masterchef presenter, John Torode.

The team at The Pig Idea have today started the process of rearing eight pigs at Stepney City Farm, on a healthy menu of food waste collected from around London. From spent brewer’s grains, whey, unsold vegetables and bread, the food that would otherwise have been wasted will be collected and fed to the pigs. The Pig Idea campaign will culminate in a major food event in London's Trafalgar Square in November, when some of the UK's best known chefs will gather to offer thousands of members of the public their favourite pork dishes, using the pork reared by The Pig Idea team. This feast will highlight the current global food waste scandal, and illustrate that the solutions to this can be practical, economical and delicious.

Speaking at the launch of The Pig Idea Tristram Stuart, author and campaigner on food waste, commented:

“Humans have been recycling food waste by feeding it to pigs for thousands of years. Reviving this tradition will help to protect forests that are being chopped down to grow the millions of tonnes of soya we import from South America every year to feed our livestock.”

Thomasina Miers, Chef at Wahaca, the award winning sustainable restaurant, added:

"Cutting down rainforest in the Amazon to grow feed for pigs in Europe makes no sense. Let's save all our delicious food waste and feed it to the pigs. Not only will we be saving the rainforest (and slowing down climate change) but we'll be bringing down the cost of pig feed and pork. Let them eat waste!"

More information on The Pig Idea and how to support the campaign can be found at the initiative’s website – http://www.thepigidea.org.

Thomasina Miers with "Pig Idea" pigs.
Feeding time with Thomasina and Tristram (photo: James Perrin).


I know I am biased, but this campaign makes great sense in terms of tackling food waste and making food production more sustainable. It's a simple, logical approach that should be rolled out across Scotland and the rest of the UK. What do you think?

All photos by James Perrin www.jamesperrin.com
3 comments on "Sustainable food news: A brilliant "Pig Idea""
  1. I think that this makes total sense, this is the way it should be. Why are we feeding pigs on intensively farmed & produced feed when there is free fodder going into landfill? The pigs enjoy the scraps more, they are better tasting as a result, and we reduce gas/landfill. Why on earth not?

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  2. Kirsten - couldn't agree more. Like the Fishfight campaign, this makes utter common sense.

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  3. Today waste management has become a big problem which encounters in many corporations, and even cities and municipalities. It has become a big challenge to take care of waste disposal in an environmentally friendly manner. Even though, government has applied strict rules in many countries, but people still use to dispose waste in improper manner. In order to keep our surrounding environment pollution free, proper waste disposal and management is quite essential.

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