Have you ever seen the big blue food truck at Rotterdam’s autumn market? Here you can get a delicious pita falafel made with ingredients that would otherwise have ended up in the bin. Ayuk Bakia is one of the faces behind this sustainable sandwich: “Food waste is a big problem.”
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Ayuk founded Fal Waste three years ago with partner Scifo Minnaard. They now not only sell pitas in their own food truck, but they also supply to various catering companies in the city. “It’s a hobby that has gone out of control!”
How did you come up with the idea for Fal waste?
“After our psychology studies, we both wanted to do something with our love of food. And at the same time contribute something good. We knew food waste was a big problem, so we set about investigating the matter. Soon we were thinking of all the hip juice bars where they slow juicer sell because it leaves a lot of vegetable mass. In a Youtube video, someone made balls out of it, but they really did not look good. Then we came to falafel, and it turned out to work! ”
“We no longer use pulp, because Fal waste has grown. We are now gaining more influence because we are looking for large residual flows early in the chain. Think of farmers, growers, cutting plants and packing companies. A company from Western Norway supplies us with remnants of pepper and onion strips. We need this kind of structural collaboration to deliver a consistent product to the restaurant industry. We can experiment even more in our food truck. If there are tomatoes left over after a market day, it turns into a spicy sauce. ”
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What’s on your pita?
“Pita currently contains falafel with more than thirty percent saved peppers, garlic and onions. We are now also adding more saved beans and green herbs (mostly stalks). In addition, there is a coleslaw on (which will be sauerkraut next time), homemade strong sauce of saved tomatoes, tahini sauce, tomatoes and pickles. “
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Why do you think it is important to contribute to the climate crisis?
“As human beings, we face the biggest problem ever. The challenge is huge, but I think the solution often lies in small things. When we talk about sustainability, we often think of big technological solutions. I think there are thousands of answers. If you get discouraged by the scale of the problem, you can always ask yourself, ‘What can I do today?’ ”
Eat a pita Fall waste, for example.
“I am in favor of answering the question, we do that with Fal waste. We make a sustainable choice fun. The pita falafel is delicious and the rest follows. Some people are not even aware that our sandwich is made with saved food. Only when they eat it for the fifth time do they say: what is false waste actually spelled strangely. So that’s a compliment to us! ”
You have just won the Rotterdam Business Woman Upcoming Talent Award. How does it feel?
“It’s a nice recognition, but I do not really know what to think about it. It does not really feel like a competition, because everyone does cool things. But it provides good motivation to continue. I do not really see myself as a businesswoman, but of course I am! It is good to be confronted with facts. Even though I’m doing something mission-driven, I’m an entrepreneur. I think it’s really good that there’s a specific focus on women as entrepreneurs, because it’s still one the human world.†
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Do you have any tips for people to throw less food out at home?
“Of course, there are actually pretty simple solutions. That way, you can easily make ‘a sour’ with ingredients that you always have in the cupboard. With sugar, water, vinegar and salt, you can pickle vegetables that you would otherwise have to throw away. Another tip: make a shopping list when you go to the supermarket. Instead of taking everything you want, buy more specifically. Freezing and labeling leftovers is also simple and works well. We can still bring the day of rest back to life. Or something else: give leftovers to your neighbors. It’s something we do not do very quickly in the Netherlands, but it is easily accessible and you make someone happy with it. “
Where can Rotterdammere taste all your Fal waste?
“We are at Rotterdam Harvest Market on Noordplein every Saturday. Here we sell our pita falafel. You can also eat our burger and falafel in various catering places in the city, such as Bokaal, Statencafé, Parqiet and De Gele Kanarie. Each company makes its own dish. “So it’s nice. And some fat is on the way: We want to sell through InstockMarket. It’s an online wholesaler for the catering industry, where they sell saved food.”