October 7, 2016

Ugly produce. Food not trash

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How often do you go into the grocery store and marvel over the gleaming array of perfectly sized and shaped fruits and vegetables. What happens to all the produce that does not look as nice? In America, 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables grown don’t fit grocery stores’ strict cosmetic standards — the crooked carrot, the curvy cucumber, the undersized apple — usually causing them to go to waste.

About 25% of produce is wasted in the U.S. before it even reaches the grocery store! This is mostly due to strict cosmetic standards from large grocers that dictate exactly how their fruit and veggies should look. This equals about 20 billion pounds of good, healthy produce left uneaten because it doesn’t look pretty! If produce fails to make the grade for size, shape, or color it’s deemed  “ugly” and unsellable.

There is a movement happening in this country that is getting us to rethink the way food should look. We are resisting the idea that to be nutritious food has to look beautiful. Not only that but the 20 billion pounds of nutritious but ugly produce can be used to feed the almost 50 million people are food insecure and almost 90% of us (over 270 million) are not eating enough fruits and veggies in the U.S.

There are ways we can make ugly produce a desirable product instead of an unwanted outcast. Stop Food Waste’s The Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Campaign has pushed large food chains like Whole Foods and Walmart to sell produce that does not fit industry standards. Support the stores that are selling the ugly produce and send emails to the stores that are still rejecting produce.

Look for local farmers and CSA that sell ugly produce. For instance Imperfect Produce, a subscription delivery service, sources from farms with produce that would be thrown out for cosmetic reasons. If we support programs like this we can stop billions of pounds of fruits and vegetables go to waste on farms across the U.S. per year.

Faith groups have taken up this food waste issue. In August Bethel Lutheran Church in California celebrated Ugly Food Month. They dedicated time during service to speak about why we should celebrate ugly food and ended their month with a potluck of ugly food dishes.

Jordan Figueiredo at the @UglyFruitAndVeg campaign they list more ways we can help reduce food waste by educating and changing policy around ugly food

  1. Everyone – Buy It and Talk About It
    Purchase imperfect (sometimes “ugly”) fruit and veg: at the farmers market, though a home delivery service like those above, at supermarkets or wherever you can find them. Talk about the issue and share your “uglies” pics with your friends and the world at my various @UglyFruitAndVeg social media accounts.
  2. Grocers – Sell It and Educate
    a. Put more pressure on our nation’s grocers to accept responsibility in this matter. You can do this here.
  3. Schools – Buy It and Educate
    a. We need our students, our youth, to eat more fruits and vegetables, right? What better way than to educate them to love ugly and save money while their school buys cheaper, but imperfect, fruit and veg! In many ways, produce shaming is parallel to body shaming and bullying – we should be teaching our students that produce can be imperfect and still beautiful.
  4. Governments – Support Farm to Food Bank
    You can also ask your state government if they support farm to food bank programs (or if they can start such a program or support them further).

 

 

 

 

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October 2, 2016

A few Ideas of how you can reduce your food waste

Make careful decisions about what and how much you buy at the grocery store.

• Shop at stores that offer misshapen food at a discount.

• Purchase prepared meals at the deli or salad bar, which allows supermarkets to make use of imperfect produce.

• Buy frozen foods, which suffer fewer losses from farm to shelf.

• Shop often. Start with a large trip and then make smaller follow-ups to buy a few days’ worth of produce at a time.

• Buy fresh food at local farmers markets.

Americans spend about as much at restaurants as they do at grocery stores.

• Skip the cafeteria tray. Diners who use trays waste 32 percent more than those who carry their plates in their hands.

• Take home leftovers.

• Share side dishes to keep portions under control.

• Ask the waiter to hold extras such as bread and butter you don’t plan to eat.

• Encourage restaurants and caterers to donate leftovers.

Small changes in the kitchen can reduce the amount of food your household throws out.

• Use FoodKeeper or other apps for food-expiration reminders.

• Switch to smaller dishes to control portions. The standard plate is 36 percent larger than it was 50 years ago.

• Eat leftovers on a regular night each week.

• Give uneaten food a second chance. Freeze or can extras. Blend bruised fruit into smoothies.

• Try not to waste water-intensive foods like meat.

Businesses, schools, nonprofits, and governments can all find ways to dump less food.

• Bring back home economics classes to teach cooking, canning, and storage basics.

• Get your school to join the USDA Food Waste Challenge.

• Ask your local government for a curbside food-scrap collection service like that provided in roughly 200 U.S. communities.

• Share the bounty of your home garden with your community through ampleharvest.org.

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October 1, 2016

What do we waste most

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September 15, 2016

Fall Focus : Food Waste

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October 2, 2014

Harvesting Hands

Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light runs a program call Harvesting Hands which works to provide food to people in need.

Every year in the United States between 40% and 50% of all food that is produced and ready for harvest is wasted. That means that for every square mile of corn that is grown, every gallon of milk that is produced or animal that is raised an identical one ends up in the landfill. Not only is this wasteful but it places an heavy and unnecessary burden on the planet.

Food production has one of the largest harmful impacts on the environment through fertilizer and pesticide run off, soil erosion and emission of green house gases. A recent U.N. study found that livestock alone accounts for more green house gas emissions than the entire global transportation sector combined. In the mean time many of our neighbors who are dependent on food shelters for their meals struggle to find fresh, whole and healthy food on their plates.

Harvesting Hands is a volunteer based program that works to address both of these issues in Kentucky’s local food system by gathering (or gleaning) fresh excess produce and turning it into a valuable resource for our neighbors in need. They glean from both farmer’s markets and local farms.

Through this action they not only help to provide healthy food to those in need but they also honor the fossil fuel resources that are used in producing the food.

Often farmers or vegetable sellers overestimate the amount of food they need to grow or sell. Traditionally that food is trashed and then contributes to higher carbon emissions. The Harvesting Hands program helps to harvest that unused food by going to farms and picking the excess or collecting it from farmers markets.

Run by volunteers, Harvesting Hands reduces waste and is building a more sustainable food future.

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