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RF15: Sustainability never tasted so good

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RF15: Sustainability never tasted so good
It's not always easy to meet the culinary needs of 130,000 festival guests but Roskilde's organizers provide high-quality, varied eateries for the masses of merrymakers. Photo: Allan Mutuku
09:37 CEST+02:00
The Roskilde Festival food experience used to be best defined by eating canned tuna in a hot tent but a strong focus on food and sustainability in recent years has led to numerous high-quality, value-for-money organic food options around the festival.

Roskilde Festival 2015 reaches its closure on Saturday for one last day of revelry under the summer sun. Temperatures will reach their highest point of the festival and this year's biggest name, Paul McCartney, will lead a massive sing-along on the Orange stage.

After three full days of music, we've seen acts like Pharrell Williams, The War on Drugs, Goat, St Vincent and Sarabi play to popular approval whilst others like Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Mastodon have disappointed somewhat.

But Roskilde is more than just music, as the organizers of the annual event constantly reaffirm. 

One of the increasingly important aspects at the festival is its focus on quality food and beverages. Last year's event saw 700,000 kilos of food and approximately one million litres of beer sold. Given Roskilde's environmental focus, the organizers of the event have become stricter when it comes to the sorts of food products that are sold on the festival grounds.

According to Mikkel Sander, Roskilde Festival's sustainability leader, the festival has for many years “explored different avenues and set higher demands with regard to sustainability initiatives.”

This has entailed an inclination to donating leftovers to charities, in an effort to curb waste. Last year alone, over 27.5 tonnes of food was donated to the homeless in the form of 65,000 meals – an initiative that earned special praise at the European Festival Awards.

See also: Leftover festival food feeds thousands

At least 45 percent of the food stalls at Roskilde Festival sell organic food. This figure is set to rise to 90 percent by 2017 and as you may expect, is easier said than done. Organizers say that it is harder to procure organic products and suppliers than traditional ones. This is is especially true of beer, one of the most consumed products at the event.

In addition to its ambitious organic agenda, Roskilde has also made an effort to integrate the consumption of food and beverage into the overall festival experience. To this end, the festival has staged several food events, from a communal street kitchen during the warm-up days to educational palette-tickling experiments by Michelin-star chefs. The Local was particularly impressed with the Food Jam in the centre of the East city. Now a fixture within the Roskilde experience, the food jam presents an opportunity for groups and individuals to cook together, using high quality organic ingredients and costing a mere 50 kroner.

Roskilde's organizers were kind enough to take us on a guided tour of some hand-picked initiatives at the festival. Here is some of what we saw on our culinary foray:

Dixie Burgers: Lean production gurus Dixie Burgers are located in the food area by the music stages. With over 315 volunteers, they produce up to 12 burgers a minute. The profits generated from sales at stalls such as these are reinvested into the association that staffs them. One of the challenges of meeting the organic demands at the festival is that most associations contract volunteers to operate their stalls. These volunteers, while incredibly hard working, tend to be less experienced than food industry professionals, which can complicate matters when it comes to ordering exact quantities of organic products.


Big A's Diner: It may lack the Pulp Fiction-like diner seating, but Big A's is about as good as it gets when it comes to the American culinary experience at Roskilde Festival.  This stall, located by the Avalon stage, is run by professionals from the food industry and outsourced to 140 volunteers. Fries, deep fried chicken and milk shakes are some of the items on their menu. A good place to grab a bite on Saturday, which in addition to the final day of the festival is also the major US holiday Independence Day. 

Bus Bus: Located near the Orange stage, Bus Bus serves traditional Danish meals such as the revered Flæskestegssandwich (roasted pork sandwich). Their version has been heralded by several foodies as being the festival's best. Our insider tip is to queue in the line on the left-hand side of the building (looking away from the Orange stage) as it moves way quicker than the one on the opposite side.

The Food Court: Offering a lot of different food concentrated in one place, the food court houses 18 stalls and two bars. Of these, two are Michelin-star eateries, a fact that takes Roskilde a cut above many other European festivals, The organic produce demands in this particular area of Roskilde Festival are higher than the overall demands: 60 percent of the ingredients used by each stall have to be organic.

Peter Larsen Coffee: Located in the food court area, the folks behind Peter Larsen Coffee are masters in the coffee department. One of their specialties is their cold brew coffee, pictured here. Originally from Japan, cold brew coffee contains twice as much caffeine as a can of Red Bull. And as anyone out here at Roskilde with us can attest, a heavy dose of caffeine can be just what's needed to clear out the preceding night's cobwebs and get you ready to face another full day eating, drinking and making merry. 

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