Born again

FREMANTLE expat Anna Mitchell has gone from mild-mannered accountant to eco-warrior and author.

The first pedal push of her transformation was reading Tim Cope’s Off the Rails, detailing his recumbent bike ride through Russia and China.

Initially Mitchell thought “I can’t do that”, but it quickly changed to “f**k it, I’m going to do that anyway.”

Weighing 130 kilos, she’s no poster girl for cycling, but that didn’t stop her riding a recumbent from Perth to Albany and Darwin to Port Hedland, with a 1000km walk along the Bibbulmun Track thrown in.

Her hilarious award-winning book Fat Chick goes AWOL is all about Mitchell following her dream, which eventually led to a caravan in rural Victoria.

It’s where she started up Henri’s Club, a collective of “dumpster divers” across Australia who rescue edible food that was destined for landfill.

“I have been dumpster diving for three years; there is so much waste,” Mitchell says.

The binned food is often good to eat, but shops need shelf space for the next shipment, she says.

Charity groups are not allowed to accept food from the club, even though the food is wrapped in plastic and not contaminated, so it is often preserved.

• Anna Mitchell. Photos supplied

“People gather together to help dehydrate, pickle, can, bottle and ferment rescued food,” Mitchell says. “In exchange they learn old-school preserving skills, make new friends and take home a share of the end product.”

The remaining food is delivered to struggling local families.

“I hear stories of people who say, ‘It’s me eating or the kids eating’. No one should have to make that choice.”

She’s giving a talk on Fat Chick Goes AWOL at South Fremantle bookshop on June 1.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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