Love letters to unrequited loves or appeals to companies may usually seem like a one-way conversation. That’s what Nitsan Mayost, a student at the Bezalel Arts Academy in Jerusalem documents as he uncovers scandalous amounts of food waste near a supermarket called Shufersal, in his neighborhood store in Jerusalem.
He started learning about the problem of food waste during the Covid lockdown, during a Zoom lesson. He then noticed the food bin behind a supermarket nearby was loaded with food. He started picking up food that was thrown out because of a sticker that was damaged, like yoghurts. Soon his fridge was full and he started offering the food to friends.
Every day he went to the bin and documented it in letters to the CEO pf Shufersal, describing in detail what he found that day like “143 happy cucumbers.” Or “14 packages of mozarella fingers.”
He tried offering the food to the workers but they often yelled at him telling him to get out of the bins.
The event culminated on the eve of Passover where Mayost invited the CEO of Shufersal to dine with him on thousands of vegetables he’d found in the bin. That’s the image above. The CEO never showed up.
In one moving letter he wrote:
“Challah bread does not take up the whole bin, but they do take up the whole of my heart. There were 14 of them and they were next to tomatoes and peppers and packaged sausages (that I don’t like) and cottage cheese and some quick-salad vegetables and about twenty cartons of milk. But the Challah?
“I don’t know about you, but as for me – the more the bin is filled with food, the more my soul empties in the same proportion.”
Challah is the bread Jews eat to sanctify the Sabbath.
Through a series of quiet letters, and sent daily, he asked the CEO of the major Israeli supermarket food chain to make some room in his schedule for overloaded food waste in the supermarket’s food bins. Mayost used old-fashioned letters, made from found materials, to prank the store he was documenting. The suit he wore, and the food laid out, were all found in trash bins.
Dumpster diving was a thing already 20 years ago. Now it’s becoming outrageous to a younger generation that this food is ever dumped in the first place. This artist is ultimately seeking revenge and waits until unveiling his final exhibition documenting the problems of food waste in Israel, and also the world.
He said he doesn’t mean to criticise the store specifically but the food waste problem in general.