You know I love me some quirky produce. Well, I found these sweet potatoes at the farmers’ market and was excited by their serpentine shape. It’s as if they just couldn’t stop growing!
And you wouldn’t believe this, but not only were they edible, they were delicious! Actually–to be more accurate–they tasted no different than any “regular-shaped” sweet potato. And that’s the whole point.
Last week, Massachusetts took a major step toward becoming a state where no food waste hits the landfill. As of October 1, any entity producing more than 1 ton of food waste per week isn’t allowed to simply throw it away. That applies to restaurants, universities, hospitals and a variety of other operations.
If all goes well, there are plans to apply this food waste landfill ban to residential and other commercial generators, as Vermont has pledged to do by 2020.
There’s been a bit of confusion on two counts. Most importantly, the law doesn’t mean that these places are required to compost food. It means that they can’t throw food away. Ideally, that means more attention paid to reducing waste, donating excess food or sending it to livestock.
And Massachusetts is not the first state to enact such a partial ban. Connecticut and Vermont already have similar bans in action. Still, kudos to the Bay State for being an early adopter in what hopefully becomes a national trend.
And just to give a sense of the impact of the rule change, here are a few related stories:
Alphabet produce, my favorite pet topic, reared its curvy little head this weekend.
Normally, I post pics of fruits and veggies that resemble a letter or number. On Saturday, though, I found three such oddities. And in an amazing bit of Scrabble karma, they just happened to be the letters that spell my name:
I found all of these beauts at the same stand at the Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market. When I told the grower that I love quirky produce, she even helped my search and suggested the ‘J,’ which she thought resembled a yoga pose.
These eggplants are yet another reason of why I love farmers’ markets. Where else can you get a chuckle, a reminder that taste trumps appearance, a blog post and half of a meal for a buck? And lest you doubt the latter, here’s photographic evidence that a fruit or vegetable’s taste is in no way related to its shape.
The post counters the popular misconception that schools are required to trash all student leftovers, including sealed packages, unopened milk or whole fruit. As mentioned in this article, schools are covered by a 2011 addition to the Good Samaritan Act, inserted into an appropriations bill by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. That means that school cafeterias don’t have to be the food waste factories that most are today.
Most, but not all. For example, Chesterbrook Elementary of McLean, Virginia–highlighted in the USDA blog post–teaches students to separate out food worthy of donation. Parent volunteers then donate that food the local food pantry. I now have a new favorite school.
The post also highlights the tireless work of the Food Bus non-profit, which collects and distributes excess food from schools and teaches kids why wasting food is too uncool for school.
I was talking about food waste on Minnesota Public Radio today and many of the callers were school or day care workers lamenting their facility’s level of food waste. Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking a lot about that topic lately. Then Indiana’s Food Rescue org sent me this inspiring video of a school objecting to throwing away food, which led to an entire school district redistributing nutritious, packaged food.
Given federal caloric and/or food type requirements, school cafeterias have to put certain foods on each tray, even if a child says they don’t want to eat those items. Yet, as we see in South Madison, Ind., that doesn’t mean those foods have to be thrown away. This needs to change. We need to stop teaching kids that wasting food is A-OK, as most schools currently do.
Scary data point of the day: in India, 40 percent of the food byvalue does not reach consumers. And yes, this is a nation where 47 percent of children are underweight.
If all eyes are on Boston, they will be so for a while! The (commercial) food waste landfill ban doesn’t kick in until October 1. But it’s still encouraging…
Good to see bike food rescue getting some love, as Boulder Food Rescue recently received in The Denver Post. What that model lacks in capacity, it makes up for in immediacy and nonexistent carbon impact.
This Forbes piece provides a succinct rundown on food-waste-to-energy companies out there. That’s anaerobic digestion, if you speak food waste.
You know what’s hard to argue against? Rescuing food doomed for the landfill and redistributing it to those in need. Doing that with healthy produce is even more unassailable.
Food Forward specializes in the latter, recovering fruit and veggies from backyard trees, farmers’ markets and wholesalers in the Los Angeles area. The group, around since 2009, has an opportunity to rescue more from the latter source, but there’s one small detail–they need a truck. That’s where we come in:
I may be the last to write about the brilliant Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign from French supermarket chain Intermarché, but I want to say that it’s the best initiative on food waste I’ve seen from one company.
Selling ugly (moches) fruits and vegetables at a 30% discount after raising awareness with a line of soups and juices from those same types of produce–excellent. Perhaps even better is the execution and design. Have a look:
While this idea has certainly made the rounds in social media, it’s worth spreading the word further. Because, really, all supermarkets could do something similar. And imagine the impact that would have on food waste in the developed world.
So all of you supermarkets out there–especially here in the US!–adapt or even steal Intermarché’s idea. There’s too much at stake, environmentally and hunger-wise, not to try something to trim our food waste. Who knows, it may even bring some buzz to that retailer. After all, ugly is the new black. Ugly is now sexy.
Another effective part of the infographic is the Wembley Stadium indicator. But it’s worth noting: UK food waste would fill that stadium 8 times per year, while the US would fill the similar-size Rose Bowl every day! America’s larger population alone doesn’t explain that discrepancy, sadly.
I rarely find the time to glean, but it’s always a pleasurable, grounding experience. This week, I had that opportunity as I helped supervise a group of 15 campers (from a community service camp!) glean collard greens.
As you can see, we did our best in filling the available delivery vehicles, including my hatchback and the camp’s short bus. All told, we harvested 2,300 pounds of greens in a few hours (with water breaks). And those greens went to five different hunger relief agencies.
I can think of few better ways to spend a morning! Plus, I got to witness the excitement that fresh produce elicited from a few residents at a women’s shelter. Meanwhile, the campers, ages 9 to 12, learned more about farming, our agricultural abundance and those in need (the campers helped prepare the collards at one shelter).
And why would a small farmer have thousands of pounds of collard greens to donate? It’s related to the season, but it’s probably not what you think.
While most folks (myself included) think of collards as a cold weather crop, these ones were not only surviving, but thriving! They were available for donation mostly because of that perception. There’s no real market for collards, as few people want to eat them in the summer. Especially when there’s so much competition from those flashy ‘summer veggies’ (that we all love)…