Speech by the chair of the board of the Sophie Prize, Liv Røhnebæk Bjergene

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends

Once upon there was an Emperor, whose only worry in life was to dress in elegant clothes. He changed clothes almost every hour, and loved to show them off to his people.

When two tailors came, they managed to fool the emperor, the prime minister and the people, dressing the Emperor in invisible clothes.

"Look at the Emperor’s new clothes. They’re beautiful" the people said.

A child, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, said:

"The Emperor is naked".

The boy’s remark was repeated over and over again until everyone cried:

"The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! The Emperor is naked! It’s true!

We are gathered here today to celebrate Tristram Stuart, winner of the Sophie Prize 2011.

Tristram Stuart, you have done exactly the same as this little boy: Revealed to us all a fact a majority of us have not been willing to see: The waste of food.

As a fairly young boy you had pigs and hens. Making a deal with the local baker and the local market, your animals were fed on organic bread, out-sized potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. No one questioned this waste of food. Except from you. In the country side of Britain your mission began: To investigate the amount of food wasted, the reasons for it and to suggest solutions.

In 2009 your acclaimed book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal was launched. By combining front-line investigation and new facts, you demonstrate how the waste of food in the world today is a moral and environmental scandal.

In rich countries more than one third of the food goes to waste.

At the same time nearly a billion people worldwide are seriously undernourished.

The food wasted uses up the world’s limited available agricultural land and contributes to the increasing pressure on Mother Earth.

This situation is not sustainable, and will be even less so in the years to come. Population growth, change in diets due to welfare growth and reduced yields due to climate changes make a heavy cocktail. Agriculture accounts for 14 percent of the global green house gas emissions. Land use changes such as deforestation account for an additional 17 percent. An obvious way to reduce these emissions is to stop wasting food. This demands changes, both from politicians, the food industry and the consumers. Potatoes should still be sold even if they are smaller than standard size. And a cucumber is just as tasty even if it does not have the standard shape.

As an individual it is easy to feel powerless, to give up on the enormous challenges facing us.

Tristram Stuart has demonstrated that it actually does matter what each one of us do. Due to globalization, where we all trade on the same market, throwing away food at one point in the system means that we have to grow more in another.

Malnutrition is called an "invisible" emergency because, much like an iceberg, its deadly menace lies mostly hidden from view. Early malnutrition is implicated in about 40% of the 11 million deaths of children under five in developing countries. Spending 4 years of research, you have noticed how a lack in local infrastructure – through for instance grain store and pasteurization – is an obstacle for food to reach the market and the consumers in developing countries.

According to you, we, the Norwegian consumers, have the power to lift nearly five million of the world’s malnourished people out of hunger, simply by stop wasting food.

What a responsibility. What a great opportunity.

By not wasting food you demonstrate how we can achieve a win-win-win-situation:

A victory for the fight against poverty.

A victory for the environment.

A victory for the economy.

In addition, I will add another victory: A victory for dignity. In your book you write about your meeting with the Uighur people in the far north-west of China. In their tradition leaving food on your plate is forbidden and considered as an insult to the host, to the cook, to the farmer who grew it and to Gud.

I know that the Uighur-people is a great inspiration for you. And I think we all can feel how throwing away food, leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Tomorrow, outside the Norwegian Parliament you are all welcome to come and learn how food waste by simple measures can be reduced and to have a delicious free lunch – made of ingredients meant for destruction.

Your mission will continue. I hope that we can reach your goal: A world with no freegans – people like you who as a political protest live on quality food that others have wasted.

Tristram Stuart, thank you for awakening us. In Hans Christian Andersens fairy tale, the people said:

"The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It’s true!

Today I think we all say: Tristram Stuart is right! We must stop wasting food!

Thank you!