#2 QofR: Curb: The Real Junk Food Project Southampton

Since June 2016 my family and I have been involved with Curb: The Real Junk Food Project Southampton as well as intercepting (bin diving) for our food from supermarket/convenience shop bins. Our first experience of Curb was a ‘cafe takeover’ at The Art House in Southampton where they fed over 200 bellies with food that would have otherwise been thrown away. The meals were delicious, vegetarian, vegan and worth every penny on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis.

We host an annual mini festival in our garden called ‘Misselstock’ and asked Curb whether they would be able to cater for our event. This proved to be a total success and we were eating for at least a week after the party on ‘bin food’. In the lead up to the event I went ‘binning’ with Kate, who I met at the Art House when we both volunteered there in the cafe. I was totally shocked when we pulled up to a bin at the back of a convenience store in the city, lifted the lid and pulled out five bin bags worth of perfectly good food that was deemed unfit for human consumption because it would have been past it’s best before date at 00.01 that morning.

Is this is an act of subverting?

To uncover and bring to light the contradiction between the ethics and principles that the Cooperative claims to have in regards to welfare, farming efficiency and the environment and the amount of meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit and processed foods which are wasted, destined for landfill every single day. On their website the Cooperative claim that “None of our food waste is sent to landfill – it all goes to AD (Anaerobic Digestion) to produce energy and compost, and we continue to explore options to reduce any reliance on AD.”

From my personal experience there is no attempt to sort through the rubbish in order to filter out any compostable materials. As for recyclables, items that we find in the bins are still packaged; cellophane, cardboard boxes, plastic trays, full milk bottles, paper bags, glass bottles…all of which would have ended up on a landfill site.

In my opinion, any concerns about animal welfare are completely nullified when meat is going straight from the shelves into the bin and not used by staff or given away to charities and not reduced enough for customers to consider buying it. Making sure an animal has a happy and healthy life before it’s slaughtered is utterly meaningless when the meat is thrown away at the end of the process.

Best before and use by dates have us all convinced that we don’t have the common sense to identify whether food is fit for consumption or not. Before processing and packaging, at a time when we foraged, grew or hunted food we used our senses…smell, touch, sight to make these decisions. When we sort through the food we have intercepted we are careful to store it carefully (freeze, refrigerate etc.). We use our own judgement as to whether something is or isn’t suitable to eat and we use our creativity and skills* in order to preserve and use up as much of the food as possible, making jams, chutneys, sharing and developing old and new recipes, having friends round for dinner, baking cakes and drying seeds from fruit and vegetables to grow second generation plants. The Curb Kitchen use most of their intercepted food for events such as pop-up café’s in local restaurants, food boutiques in local shops and stalls at festivals.

By intercepting food we are undermining the core values of consumerism (the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy) and exposing the flaws in the system. We accept that money is a tool within our society but choose to invest this in independent companies that are true to their morals and ethics.

Undermine: Verb
  • to injure or destroy by insidious activity or imperceptible stages, sometimes tending toward a sudden dramatic effect.
  • to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth.
  • to make an excavation under; dig or tunnel beneath, as a military stronghold.
  • to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support, as by digging away or eroding the foundation.

This is the tip of the iceberg…each photograph below is from one bin, on one night from one small convenience store…imagine how much food is wasted nationwide or even globally from supermarkets, fruit and veg markets and farms. When constraints and strict requirements are given to farmers for the size and quality of their produce imagine all of the fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat that is thrown away, then even once ingredients have ‘passed the test’, been processed, packaged and placed on the shop shelves there are still inconceivable amounts of waste…all because the rules and regulations tell us to throw them away.

*Intercepting food (the act of subverting) requires us to develop our creativity and practice (baking, cooking, event organisation skills) in order to use the food.

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Curb is a branch of The Real Junk Food Project, which started in Leeds in 2013 and is now known as the Armley Junk-tion Cafe. ‘

It was the first cafe of its kind to feed intercepted food that had been destined for landfill and turn it into delicious healthy meals allowing it’s customers to “Pay As You Feel” or what they can afford for the food provided. PAYF is a concept that does not focus on monetary contributions, it was created to allow people to give their time and skills  in exchange for food also. We believe everyone should have access to food and everyone has something to offer. PAYF puts the value back into food and breaks down the social barriers that money can create by giving people the option to offer what they feel is appropriate for the food provided.’  (“Armley Junktion Cafe,” n.d.)


Post blog thoughts:

Where do attitudes towards food and consumerism come from? Post war manufacturing, post rationing? Giving the impression that we’ll never run out of food and everyone can have what they want. Have companies subverted our free thought and ruined a culture of self sufficiency and no waste through advertising. So many adverts in the media are food or drink related.


Dictionary (2016). In . Dictionary.com. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com

The real junk food project. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from https://curbkitchen.wordpress.com/

The Art House. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from https://thearthousesouthampton.org/

new, 2016, & require. (2016). Curb: The real junk food project Southampton. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from https://www.facebook.com/curbkitchen/?fref=ts

Limited, C. G. Supermarket food waste. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.co-operativefood.co.uk/food-matters/preventing-waste/our-food-waste/

Armley Junktion Cafe. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.armleyjunktioncafe.com/

2 responses to “#2 QofR: Curb: The Real Junk Food Project Southampton”

  1. Bridget Craig says:

    Where is your cafe in Southampton please?

    • Daff Illustration says:

      Hi Bridget,
      Unfortunately Curb isn’t up and running anymore but The Art House Cafe where they did a few ‘takeovers’ is still going strong (it’s a community interest company run mainly by volunteers based in Southampton – 178 Above Bar Street). There are a good few junk food cafes across the country – check out ‘The Real Junk Food Project’ for a list of places.
      Hope that helps!
      Caroline x

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