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Food Waste Progress: Key Companies Embracing“Ugly” Produce

EmmamHowe MA, United States 0 Ratings 13 Discussions 8 Group posts

Posted by: EmmamHowe // Marketing/Green Policy Development

Food waste has become a major problem in the United States. According to the Natural Resources Defense Find, up to 40% of all food in the U.S. is tossed in the trash. Though some food is composted, most of it winds up in landfills where it further rots, emitting the toxic, climate change inducing gas methane. In fact, over 222 million tons of food is wasted a year in developed countries--almost as much as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. In New York City alone, organic waste makes up around one-third of all waste generated by businesses, according to the New York City Department of Sanitation. However, recently national and international agencies have made commitments to end food waste. One of the recently released Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) challenges the globe cut per capita global food waste in half by 2030. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently set our first-ever national food waste reduction goal at reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. Thus, there is hope for a solution to this problem though, as key vanguard cities and companies take the initial steps to target food waste.

For instance, New York City just announced that it will launch a new set of food waste regulations for businesses, forcing them to compost their leftover food waste rather than through it away. Most importantly, this food will no longer be destined for landfills where it would release harmful methane fumes, contributing to the enhancement of climate change. But it's not just cities that are taking a stand against food waste, as some brand name companies have also recently started to reform their policies on blemished/bruised produce. In fact, Walmart just recently announced that it would start selling “beautifully imperfect” apples at some of its stores. Walmart is the the latest chain in the American food industry to back the “ugly produce” movement to combat food waste by encouraging food chains and retailers to sell perfectly good bruised and blemished produce. Since not everyone can afford far more expensive organic options, it is crucial that companies like Walmart take these initial steps, in order to encourage Americans to eat more produce in a cost effective way while also teaching them that reducing food waste can combat hunger and save the environment at the same time.

Below are the top ten national food recovery organizations that working to reduce food waste:

- Amp Your Good: (United States) Amp Your Good started the crowd-feeding movement to change how America’s food drive system works. Crowd-feeding allows groups across the U.S. to organize campaigns to collect healthy, fresh food, as opposed to only canned or non-perishable goods. By collecting donated fresh produce, Amp Your Good not only delivers nutritious healthy food to those in need, but it also prevents the produce from being tossed in a landfill.

-Boston Area Gleaners: (Boston, Massachusetts, United States) Boston Area Gleaners is a nonprofit in Boston dedicated to rescuing surplus farm crops for people in need. They distribute high quality, local produce to food pantries and meal programs by working closely with farmers, providing volunteer labor ​to harvest what would otherwise be thrown out. In 2015, they gleaned more than 360,000 pounds of produce in 66 crop types from 54 different farms.

- 412 Food Rescue: (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States) 412 Food Rescue works with food retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, caterers, universities and other food providers in the Pittsburgh area to rescue un-sellable but perfectly good food. Thy only rescue fresh, perishable, healthy food and distribute it directly to organizations.

- Boulder Food Rescue: (Boulder, Colorado, United States) Boulder Food Rescue is a non-profit organization who facilitates the sustainable redistribution of food “waste” to agencies who serve hungry, homeless and low-income individuals while educating communities about food justice. They focus on the direct rescue and redistribution of fresh and healthy food that would otherwise be discarded otherwise. To date, they have diverted more than 1.2 million pounds of food from landfills to hungry bellies in Boulder, Colorado.

- City Harvest: (New York, New York, United States) City Harvest was founded in 1982 as the world’s first food rescue organization. They link the food industry and countless organizations, foundations, corporations and private citizens together to help feed their hungry neighbors. City Harvest helps feed the nearly two million New Yorkers who face hunger each year. This year, they will collect 55 million pounds of excess food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries, manufacturers, and farms and deliver it free of charge to 500 community food programs across the city of New York.

- Imperfect Produce: (Emeryville, California, United States) Imperfect Produce is a home and office produce delivery service focused on providing affordable fruits and vegetables to consumers. They source all of the "ugly" fruits and vegetables that usually go to waste on farms, and make produce boxes out of them. Customers can choose from a range of different produce boxes, each of which contain an assortment of fruits and vegetables, depending on what is in season. Each week, customers get their order delivered to their door or pick up from one of their pick-up sites across the Bay Area.

- Forgotten Harvest: (Detroit, Michigan, United States) Forgotten Harvest was formed in 1990 to fight two problems: hunger and waste. They “rescued” 40.9 million pounds of food last year by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from 800 sources, including grocery stores, fruit and vegetable markets, restaurants, caterers, dairies, farmers, wholesale food distributors and other Health Department-approved sources. This donated food, which would otherwise go to waste, is delivered free-of-charge to 280 emergency food providers in the Metro Detroit area.

- Food Share: (Bloomfield, Connecticut, United States) Food Share is CT’s largest food bank, gathering food donations from the food industry and distributing them to 300 food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, and other partner programs. Last year, they helped to distribute 11.5 million meals by collecting food donations from the food industry and distributing them to food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, and other partner programs.

- Copia: (San Francisco, California, United States) Copia is an online platform/app that helps connect those in need with businesses that have excess food. By focusing on the donation of excess food, they are converting an otherwise wasted resource into a vital one for those in need of healthy food options across San Francisco.

- Center for a Livable Future: (Baltimore, Maryland, United States) The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future works with students, educators, researchers, policymakers, advocacy organizations and communities to build a healthier, more equitable, and resilient food system. They research topics ranging from food security and food system policy to food production that supports environment and public health and the effects of climate disruption on agriculture and vice verse.

All in all, the innovative efforts of these organizations, cities, and corporations like Walmart are serving to expand America’s awareness of and desire to combat food waste. Though provisions like Walmart’s “ugly” options are only limited to apples and a few other items for now, this initiative is still a good first step in raising awareness of the issue. Yet, it is important to recognize that this will only be effective when and if retailers across America decide to follow in these organizations footsteps to promote the use of “ugly produce” and further educate Americans that it’s truly on the inside that counts.

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