The Food Waste Debate

Friday 8 September 2017
5.00 - 6.30PM

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Charles Perkins Centre Lecture Theatre
Johns Hopkins Drive
University of Sydney



Food Wastage Fighters Society & Sydney Ideas

At this event, we debated whether or not consumers are ultimately responsible for food wastage.

One-third of all food produced in the subsequent stages of the food supply chain is wasted between initial production and household consumption. Food waste poses serious environmental and social consequences, which will only increase in the future.

While it is easy to see the issues of food wastage, it is often difficult to locate the source of these problems.

Are consumers ultimately responsible for food wastage? Leaders from agriculture, community activism, food aid and social entrepreneurship will debate this question, and determine whether or not the heart of the food waste problem lies with consumers.

The debaters, each with distinct standpoints on how we can address the issue of food waste, got to the heart of the problem and encouraged the audience to think critically about how they consume and dispose of their food.


Dr Alana Mann, Chair of the Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney


Costa Georgiadis, Host, Gardening Australia
Sarah Pennell, General Manager & Company Secretary, Foodbank Australia


Ankit Chopra, Co-Founder, Eat Me Chutneys
Jonathan Moore, Founding member of Food Wastage Fighters Society


Costa Georgiadis is a well-loved sustainability activist. Host of ABC’s Gardening Australia, Costa is passionate about getting people into the garden, growing food and minimising food wastage. Costa studied landscape architecture at UNSW. His first TV outing, Costa’s Gardening Odyssey on SBS, brought a holistic approach to gardening as well as a gloriously untamed beard. Costa has presented ABC’s Gardening Australia since 2012, as well as appearing on radio, TV and social media. Costa embodies the human element of food, passionately articulating the benefits of engaging with nature and our food source.

Ankit Chopra is a role model for combining entrepreneurial skills with a strong moral compass. A computer science graduate  Ankit led a successful corporate life working for multinational companies such as Deloitte, before moving to France to become a chef at the 3 star Michelin restaurant, l’astrance. Now back in Sydney, Ankit runs a social enterprise that both empowers women and combats food wastage. Together with his mother, Ankit established Eat Me Chutneys, which uses imperfect fruits and vegetables to create delicious and nutritious food.

Sarah Pennell demonstrates that experience in the corporate world can be used to effectively drive social and environmental change. With international experience in PR and communications, Sarah travelled to Australia to work in our horticulture and dairy industries. She is now the General Manager and Company Secretary of Foodbank Australia, the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia. Foodbank rescues edible but surplus food and uses it to provide 166,000 meals (on average) to Australians in need.

Robbie Davis  represents the commitment of producers and agribusiness to reduce food wastage using innovative and competitive solutions. An agricultural science and MBA graduate, Robbie has been involved with numerous projects both nationally and abroad to reduce food wastage at the producer level. Robbie is an experienced agribusiness consultant and is currently the CEO of Potatoes South Australia. She chairs several state and international committees focusing on strategic planning, sustainability and harvest-refuse reduction. Robbie is the recipient of the 2016 South Australian Rural Women’s Award.

Alana Mann joined the University of Sydney in 2007 after a professional career in the media and non-profit sectors. Her teaching and research focus on how ordinary citizens get voice in policy debates regarding wicked problems such as food security and climate change. Her book Global Activism in Food Politics: Power Shift was published in 2014. Currently, Alana is involved in cross-disciplinary research projects concerning food systems with colleagues in the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) and the Charles Perkins Centre. She is on a Faculty-wide project team exploring the crisis of ‘post-truth’ discourse, funded through the Sydney Research Excellence Initiative (SREI, 2017), and is co-CI on an Education Innovation project based in Glebe, the Social Justice Learning Lab. Her international collaborations include a comparative study of ‘land-grabbing’ with researchers in Brazil and South East Asia. Alana regularly speaks about her research at public events such as Sydney Ideas, Raising the Bar and Outside the Square, and has been an invited speaker at events such as Food and Words. She is Chair of the SEI Food@Sydney seminar series.