I’ve become used to my team suggesting life or career threatening stunts to highlight our priorities. In recent weeks, they got me to teach an English lesson to promote Language Day, read The Gruffalo to bemused non-English speakers to promote the British Council’s Kids Read project, and dress up as Bond to promote British brands. I did a speech from a yacht, and drove a London taxi, but turned down a skydive – Felix has cornered that market, I reckon.
But when they proposed ‘eating food from bins’ to mark World Food Day yesterday, I confess to a moment’s hesitation. This was not the Ferrero Rocher the advert promised, nor the champagne and canapés of the (sadly outdated) Ambassadorial stereotype.
But they had a point. It is one of the sad realities of Lebanon that the country of the world’s greatest hosts throws away a huge amount of food. Unnecessarily. Food that does not stop being Five Star when the breakfast buffet closes at 11, or when the guests at lavish catered events have had their fill.
Yet many in Lebanon, a middle income country, go hungry. According to the Arab Human Development Report, Lebanon is moving away from the first MDG (eradicating hunger), one of the only countries in the world where under-nourishment increased from 1990 to 2004.
One third of food production is lost or wasted annually. So we were proud to partner with FERN (Food Establishments Recycling Nutrients) and local hotels to highlight ways in which the private sector, civil society and individuals can confront this problem. FERN closes the loop between food production and food waste, by composting fertilizer, donating leftover meals, increasing recycling rates, and creating employment opportunities. They hope that participating food establishments will form a city-based network, co-operating to create and communicate new behaviour.
So, with media present, we enjoyed an excellent leftover brunch yesterday, none of it from bins. It was great to have Gordon Campbell Gray, rockstar hotelier, join us to show that quality does not need to mean quantity.
Social entrepreneurship is alive and kicking in Beirut. Audacious optimists and visionaries working for Lebanon2020. Social media is a massive part of the effort. I encourage you to take a look at FERN international.