„Hunger is one of the world’s most urgent development challenges. One third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally“, says FAO, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Half of what is being wasted alone could feed the entire world. While the privileged drown in affluence, about one billion people are going hungry. Food waste simultaneously means squandering of land, energy, water and natural resources in general and renders the increased level of emission it creates even more paradox. Costs associated with the 88 million tonnes of food waste caused yearly within the EU is estimated at more than 143 billion euros. Food waste does represent a serious environmental and economic issue, but more than anything else it is an ethical one!
A group of young people in Berlin have made it their mission to contribute to reduction of food wasted thoughtlessly. In May, 2016 they opened Restlos Glücklich, Germany’s first restaurant predominantly utilising food surplus which might otherwise be destined for the bin. The team cooperates with providers who follow the same creed and who have become reliable partners of a number of charitable initiatives.
Surplus: too good for the bin
„Restlos Glücklich“ is a play on words: glücklich means happy, restlos literally completely/fully. Figuratively – like here –it stands for without remnants/leftovers. The restaurant was founded by professed volunteers and is another innovative addition to Berlin’s liveliest and most multicultural quarter, Neukölln. Opening hours are presently from Wednesday to Saturday, 18:00 – 22:30h and bookings are strongly recommended.
Restlos Glücklich with a menu full of surprises
What’s on the menu largely depends on what sort of foodstuffs could be organised from partnering suppliers. A challenge in itself that requires a healthy amount of flexibility and inventive creativity by the cook, one of the few employees. Albeit, concocting yet unknown culinary combinations that result in surprising and tasty dishes may harbour a reward otherwise not easy to be had. Preparing gourmet food with a predictable list of sophisticated ingredients seems a simple task as compared to the a menu relying on an incalculable random generator. Happily, this diner fuelled by idealism and conviction has left quite an impact and meanwhile sees customers of all denominations.
Mission, vision – and funds
Restlos Glücklich is a not-for-profit association whose existence is mainly owed to successful crowd funding. Proceeds are now used for educational purposes. The mission is stipulated, but the vision reaches far beyond the realms of gastronomy: making people think, raising their awareness and inducing them to participate in and contribute to this ambitious initiative. That can either be done by waiting on guests, help organise food supplies or by assuming any other task that takes the project forward. Enrolling for one of the cooking workshops on offer could perhaps be a great opportunity for adults, adolescents and children alike to get a notion of what this is all about: To treasure food – and to rescue excess and still fresh perishables from being dumped into the bin. To keep funds flowing, donations are welcome.
Header image: ©R.G. Goedke. All images courtesy of Restlos Glücklich.
More on food waste: TED Talk. Tristram Stuart: The global food waste scandal
More on Berlin-Neukölln: Berlin-Neukölln: From problem child to clubbable prodigy?