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Chefs Show That So-Called Ugly Produce Is More Than Just Edible

Thirteen chefs from around the U.S. recently tackled a food waste-related challenge: how to transform 300 pounds of wonky or ugly produce – otherwise bound for the landfill – into enticing and delicious appetizers, salads, main dishes, sides and desserts. Their cache of dreadful edibles included purple cauliflower, cherries, shiitake mushrooms, pears, fingerling potatoes, shallots, kale and carrots, all salvaged from local farms. The dinner the chef teams prepared was the highpoint of a three-day sustainability "boot camp" run by the James Beard Foundation.  The organization is on a mission to cut the estimated 571,000 tons of food waste generated annually by U.S. restaurants and food service providers by one third. [ Image credit: © USAF  ...  More

"Is It Really So Offal? 'Ugly Food' Boot Camp Entices Chefs and Diners", National Public Radio, June 23, 2017

Marks & Spencer Experiments With Laser-Coded Fruits, Vegetables

British retailer Marks & Spencer has begun selling avocados labeled with lasers. The idea is to eliminate the need for paper stickers, and save 10 tons of paper and glue annually. M&S hopes other retailers will adopt the technology, not only for labeling avocados, but other fruits and vegetables. The lasered label includes the shop logo, best before date, country of origin and barcode entered at checkout. The intense light of the laser discolors only the top layer of the fruit, and does not affect the fruit itself.  [ Image credit: © Wikimedia  ]

"Avocados with Laser-Printed Labels Go On Sale at M&S in Bid to Cut Paper Waste", The Telegraph, June 20, 2017

Don’t Want To Eat Ugly Carrots? Then Drink Them!

Two Australian entrepreneurs have come up with a spirited answer to the problem of ugly carrots. Often discarded, either by farmers or grocers, the wonkier of the orange roots end up in the landfill or as animal feed. But two farmers’ wives – their husbands’ Queensland farms produce 350 million carrots a year – have turned the unwanted cracked, marked, or just weird looking ones into vodka. With technical advice from a local winemaker, the two learned to reduce the carrots to "a sort of carrot soup stock" when it is distilled. The stock is then infused through a shiraz grape base. Each bottle contains 20 percent carrot. “We tell people to garnish their drinks with carrot sticks," Alice Gorman said. [ Image credit: © Alice Gorman / ABC  ]

"Carrot Vodka the Latest Approach to Reduce Food Waste by Spirited Vegetable Growers", ABC, June 19, 2017

Gleaning Program Reduces Food Waste, Feeds The Needy

Farmers often end up with a surplus of edible produce, either because of intentional over-production, or because much of the crop is too ugly for retail grocers. In 2016, a survey in Vermont found that 14.3 million pounds of vegetables and berries grown each year never reach the dinner plate. To help solve that problem, volunteers at the Healthy Roots Collaborative Gleaning Program collect the surplus from the fields, transport it to 18 charitable distribution centers, and share it with needy families. The program plans to double the amount of gleaned produce from two counties during the 2017 growing season to 20,000 pounds. [ Image credit: © Healthy Roots Collaborative  ]

"Summer Gleaning", St. Albans Messenger (Vermont), June 13, 2017

S.C. Firm Provides Food Waste Pickup, Composting Service

A South Carolina company that specializes in commercial food waste collection and composting is extending its services to households in Spartanburg and Greenville. Atlas Organics offers a weekly service in which households pack their food waste into sealable bins for pickup ($24 a month), or drop it off themselves ($14 a month). Atlas takes the waste to its site at a local landfill and turns it into compost. Subscribers to the compost service receive a monthly delivery of high quality compost in return – for free. Subscribers can feel good about helping the environment and “putting your waste to work." [ Image credit: © Atlas Organics  ]

"Upstate Company Offers Solution to Food Waste Problems at Home", Greenville Online, June 01, 2017

When Flies Pig Out, China Reduces Its Food Waste Problem

China, with 1.4 billion of people, has a serious food waste problem. A farm in Sichuan province in the southwestern region of the country is working on it, however, using the larvae of black soldier flies – maggots – to devour mountains of leftover meat, vegetables and fruits. The larvae can eat twice their weight in food refuse. On average, one kilogram of maggots can eat two kilos of garbage in four hours. Not bad considering that each person in the country throws away almost 30 kilograms of food every year. And it’s a sustainable system: the farm processes the maggots into a high-protein animal feed and their feces into an organic fertilizer. [ Fly larvae, image credit: © Wikipedia  ]

"In China, Maggots Help Deal With Food Waste Problem", AFP Relax News, May 31, 2017

Food Sharing Service In English Village Hopes To Expand

The founder of a community fridge in a Hampshire village in England was pretty surprised to find how people from as far away as Germany were interested in her idea, and eager to get her advice. The community fridge in Botley is the fourth in the U.K. to offer food sharing, a concept that not only reduces food waste, it helps people in need. Riki Therivel’s “nice way for neighbors to share food” has become so popular that families regularly use it. Retail grocer Tesco drops off food twice a week as well. It’s providing such a useful service to the community that its temporary home at a local church has become permanent, though the fridge hopes for a larger facility in a shopping center. [Riki Therivel, image credit: © United Nations ...  More

"Community Fridge a 'Huge Success' and Could Move into West Way Centre", The Oxford Times, May 30, 2017

State Governments Target Hunger, Food Waste, Environment

As debates rage at the national level over healthcare, immigration policy, and other issues, state governments are tackling more mundane local problems like food waste, hunger, and environmental protection. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont already have laws on the books that restrict the amount of food and other organic waste (e.g., soiled and compostable paper and yard waste) that can be dumped in landfills. Maryland, New Jersey and New York are pondering similar laws. States are offering tax breaks to farmers and small businesses that donate food rather than throw it into the landfill. They are also limiting the liability of food donors, and standardizing “use by” labels so consumers don’t toss food that ...  More

"States Try to Reduce Food Waste with New Laws", SF Gate, May 22, 2017

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