What would it take to make a meal totally sustainable? How many players? Where would you get the food? How would it be coordinated? Transported? What if the meal aims to feed 900 people? In a world where consumption is subject to a logic that escapes end-consumers, breaking with the general dynamics to make a totally sustainable meal sounds impossible, but it isn’t. All you need is 213 volunteers to serve 840 kilocalories, mainly from rescued food (valued at €4,500) that would otherwise have gone into the rubbish bin.
This is the analysis derived from the dress rehearsal that Leve Projects organised under the framework of the 2015 Barcelona Festival of All Design (FADfest). The goal was to serve a meal to everyone at FADfest, ensuring maximum sustainability, which indirectly meant having to create a whole network of contacts to allow everything from the food to the dishes to be sustainable. Thus, a campaign was created to raise awareness while also testing the territory to guarantee it.
On the campaign side, videos were made that showed data on food waste in Catalonia and the world, as well as featuring short interviews with representatives from entities involved in making the meal possible. The communication for the event, the call and even the act itself were a sign of activism and awareness that demonstrated the difficulty of breaking with the prevailing logic of food consumption.
On the rehearsal side, there were seven basic phases. First, establishing where the lunch would take place and the territory that would participate, in this case the area around Plaça de les Glòries and the neighbourhoods of Clot, Poblenou, Fort Pienc and Eixample. Based on this, the second phase was prepared: identifying stakeholders that could help achieve food sustainability, e.g. markets, urban gardens, facilities, activists, institutions, companies, etc.
With the players established, the third phase kicked off: networking and sharing. Each participant took on some responsibility, from planting and caring for lettuce to designing a trailer to carry water by bicycle from public fountains. This phase would have been impossible to implement without the collaboration of dozens of people, who were also key in the planning phase. This had to take into account the functionality of the space and the materials used while also ensuring sustainability. To make shade to sit under, for example, FAD used fabric from an old hot-air balloon.
Finally, the call, to bring 900 people together, the event itself and the final discussion were key, and possibly the three most visible phases. As a dress rehearsal, the entire event was monitored to later analyse the data. Some of the figures included the 3.06 tonnes of rescued food, 96% of waste recycled, 55% less emissions than a standard meal, 21% more food and 87% reduction in the ecological footprint.
To achieve such clear results, the central phases were composed of sub-phases that covered elements not seen during the lunch that were nevertheless essential to ensuring its sustainability, such as transport, recycling, water supply, growing and cooking, among others. With the planning, an every-day action like having lunch becomes a tool for design and an urban simulation.