Forks on wheels

It takes all sorts to make the world go around. Many of us have our pet peeves, our passions, our preferences, and yet few of us ever do anything about them. Most of us are content to sit back and watch the world go by, and as long as things don’t directly impact our own lives, we’re happy to live and let live. We do our bit for the environment by recycling our plastic and our glass, give to the needy, and live within the moral boundaries set for us or set for ourselves. And for most, that’s enough.

But for Beth Martin (who grew up in the UK) and Julia Mason (who grew up in Hong Kong), life is a little bigger, and the world is about to get a lot smaller.

Science graduates both, they left university last year and decided to take some time out before engaging with their careers. Both are passionate about food – and in particular, food waste. They’ve formed their own opinions about the reasons behind the shocking waste of food: ‘an inefficient process from farm to plate, outrageous regulations, excess stocking and unrealistic expectations of consumers driven by an ever demanding, ever competitive market’. Sadly, it all rings true.

But the ladies are open to learning – to seeing firsthand what goes in the world’s supply chains and why this waste is happening. They want to understand the mindset behind this waste and how it differs across countries. In an interview with Endeavour 360 (an archive of news and inspiration from the world of adventure travel that boasts the lovely, life-affirming strapline: find a way, or make one) – the pair laid out their plans to cycle 16 000 km from the UK to forksChina. It’s a long way, certainly, but not nearly as long as the distance some of our food travels.

Their grand plan is to learn as they go. They want to discover more about the world’s food production processes, how farmers operate, and what food means in the various countries they will travel through. On their journey (which began on 11 April), they will be collecting stories, capturing them on film and in photographs, and then sharing them with others in the hope that they can get people to listen, and then to act. Their project, Forks on Wheels, is geared up to make a difference.

There is enough good in the world to go around, if only we were more responsible about how we produce it and how we consume it, and more conscious about how we waste it. That’s a sobering thought. And the vast majority of us are culpable. I wrote some time ago about an enlightened friend of mine buying just one carrot, and the changes that prompted me to make in my own consumption habits. There’s still work to be done but I’m getting there.

Just four weeks in and their Facebook page is like a larder filled with inspiring stories about others who are making a difference and working to put the consciousness back into consuming. The good news is that the ladies are heading our way. Beth and Julia contacted me last week to tell me that Budapest is on their itinerary.

A message from the pair:

We will be arriving in Budapest on Friday, 15th May (5 days) and we would love the opportunity to speak with anyone involved in food waste or with a perspective on food waste in Budapest. Our e-mail address is forksonwheels@gmail.com. Best wishes, Beth and Julia.

If you can help them, please do. If you know of anyone involved in food waste, forward their invite. The world needs more people like them, people who care enough to try to keep it going ‘round.

First published in the Budapest Times 15 May 2015

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