Would you eat food from the garbage bin?

In May 2022 the students of the 2E class had to ask themselves this question – and could overcome their prejudice in the course of a zero waste cooking workshop.The class was participating in an Erasmus + project at our school. For one week they were accompanying students from Portugal, France, Romania and Slovenia. The week was packed with various trips, excursions, tours – and a cooking workshop.

Ms. Elke Oberhauser from “Best of the Rest” visited us in our school and together we transformed one of the classrooms into a kitchen. Ms. Oberhauser is a food waste expert and helps to raise awareness about sustainable living and how to save natural resources.  Equipped with a cooking plate, chopping boards, knives and two crates packed with fresh fruits and vegetables we set off to plan a 3-course-menu. The students were divided into  groups, preparing different parts of the menu. We started with a salad of lettuce, cucumber, pepper, and various herbs. As a main course we prepared pasta with a vegetable sauce including onions, garlic, zucchini, carrots and Italian herbs. For dessert we had a colorful fruit salad made up of apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and oranges.

After a short introduction of the concepts of zero waste and sustainable living we got started. Students started planning the different courses, assigning tasks, and discussing the ingredients – in a mix of 6 different languages (German, English, French, Slovene, Romanian, Portuguese). After a few minutes a vivid hustle and bustle had begun – with students washing fruits, peeling onions, chopping garlic, slicing zucchinis, squeezing lemons, grating carrots, cutting herbs, discussing loudly, laughing. Then a sizzle and frizzle from the pan. The delicious smell of frying onions and garlic filled the halls of the HAK Althofen and more than once a teacher opened the door to see where this promising smell was coming from.

In the end we set the table and enjoyed a wonderful meal together – everyone being proud of their accomplishment. Not only could we prepare a 3-course-lunch with food that would have gone to waste. We also learned a lot about how to make the most out of food waste, the names of vegetables and fruits in different languages, and also that some students have a hidden talent for cooking food and preparing meals. “Cooking with love and passion”, as Ms.Oberhauser described it.

Mag. Valentina Schasché