Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Did You Know?

1) 40% of food in the United States today goes uneaten.

2) Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. (Gunders, Pg. 1)

3) In-store food losses in the United States totaled an estimated 43 billion pounds in 2008, equivalent to 10 percent of the total food supply at the retail level. (Gunders, Pg. 10)

4) The USDA estimates that supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables alone. (Gunders, Pg. 10)

5) Products are discarded when sell by dates—almost none of which are regulated by law—are near. Different from use by or best by, sell by dates are designed to help the store with stocking and ensure freshness to consumers. Almost all of this food is still consumable but may have a limited shelf life left. In most states, it is not illegal to sell product after the sell by date, but stores don’t do so out of concern that their image of carrying fresh products will be damaged. Most stores, in fact, pull items 2 to 3 days before the sell-by date. (Gunders, Pg. 10)

6) “Sell by” and “use by” dates are not federally regulated and do not indicate safety, except on certain baby foods. Rather, they are manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Many foods can be safely consumed after their “sell by” and “use by” dates. (Gunders, Pg 17)

7) Uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for a large portion of U.S. methane emissions. (Gunders, Pg. 1)

8) In the landfill, food scraps decompose and give off methane, a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more powerful in global warming as carbon dioxide. (Gunders, Pg 14)    

9) Due to their organic nature and high moisture content, food scraps decay more rapidly than other organics. Therefore, they produce a disproportionately large component of the methane that landfills produce in the first years, often before the landfills are capped. (Gunders, Pg 14)

10) Barriers to recovering more food: liability concerns, distribution and storage logistics, and funding to the collection and distribution of food. (Gunders, Pg 17)

11) Donate more. Retailers should work with local agencies to address the logistical challenges related to food donations. Such donations bring positive community impact and also offer tax benefits in the form of enhanced tax deductions. (Gunders, Pg 19)

Gunders, Dana. "Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill." NRDC Issue Paper (Aug. 2012): NRDC.org. Natural Resources Defense Council. Web. <http://www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf>.
Other sources
A report out of the U.K. estimates that if food scraps were removed from landfills there, the level of greenhouse gas abatement would be equivalent to removing one-fifth of all the cars in the country from the road (Pg. 15 of Gunders article) Connected to-  

Look up: “Love Food Hate Waste” A movement in the U.K.
 “Love Food  Hate Waste” has been conducted over the past five years and 53 of the leading food retailers and brands there have adopted a resolution to reduce waste in their own operations, as well as upstream and downstream in the supply chain. Pg 5


New Life For Leftovers

By Emma Breysse
Hole Food Rescue's Ali Dunford and Justin Nevis transport unwanted food from
grocery stores and the farmers market to organizations that serve the needy.
“Our mission is to create a more sustainable food system,” Dunford said. “Every day I see the need now that the box is open. Pandora has arrived.” A recent transplant from Boulder, Colo., Dunford said she originally intended her life in Jackson Hole to look a little more like that of a typical outdoors bum: working shifts at Nick Wilson’s in Teton Village and then getting in as many hours on the slopes, the river and the trails as she could. Give Dunford’s enthusiasm for her work, it’s difficult to imagine that life ever suiting her. From the food rescue’s beginnings as an idea, it has grown in about a month into an agency with a nonprofit backer serving the Jackson Cupboard and the Good Samaritan Mission with the leftovers from two of the valley’s three major grocery stores and the Jackson Hole Farmers Market. 

According to the totals the group logs after every pickup, it has saved more than 2,000 pounds of food from ending up in a landfill. “I was dumpster-diving every day for food and finding ridiculous loads of stuff that really wasn’t trash,” Dunford said, “enough that I couldn’t even use it all if I cooked for every friend I had. So I thought, ‘I see a big problem, and there’s a pretty easy solution.’” Originally, the solution was more personal. Dunford began hosting “progressive potlucks” where she and her similarly food-conscious friends would meet and discuss issues relating to the world’s food supply and waste management. It turned out talking was not enough. Frequent potluck guest and current food rescue volunteer Eric Lovely said he could see the frustration build to the point of action.

Dunford, who founded Hole Food Rescue, sorts produce from the
Jackson Hole Farmers Market. Most items go to the Jackson Cupboard

“There was a moment when the frustration came to a tipping point,” he said. “She just took all of her energy and started this project, and it just built momentum from there.” The project started with Jackson Whole Grocer, where a Thursday pickup demonstrated employees seem to already know volunteer Sami Stasi well. Store owner Jeff Rice said he is glad to participate in an effort that allows him to support so many pet causes all at once. “As a grocer and organization who cares about both nutrition and sustainability, we are thrilled to be a part of the Hole Food Rescue,” Rice said. “We like the idea of contributing to bringing better nutrition to those in need in our community. And with food in the range of 40 percent in our country, we are glad to do what we can to help reduce that number.” The rescue also picks up from Albertsons and Persephone Bakery and will add more sources when it has the volunteers to manage the work. On the Whole Grocer pickup, Stasi loaded the food rescue trailer with several pounds of potatoes with cosmetic defects, cobs of corn whose husks had been pulled too far back by customers, and an assortment of other produce.

Most items end up at the Jackson Food Cupboard, where the food rescue is slowly carving a niche as a reliable source of the produce the nonprofit buys, something spokeswoman Amy Brooks said is a major expense. “It’s working pretty well so far,” Brooks said. “We had some concerns at first, because we want the food to be appealing so people will actually want it. But I think it’ll be a great long-term partnership.” Stasi sorts through the food with the cupboard’s needs in mind. Some goes to Orville’s Good Samaritan Mission, where the staff will use it in a meal as quickly as possible. More durable items end up in the food boxes the mission sends out to the community’s hungry. For the mission, being able to offer the nutritional benefits of fresh produce is always a good thing, said administrator Georgia Ligori, and having a regular source of donations is even better. “We support [the food rescue] 100 percent, and we are so honored to partner with them,” Ligori said. “It’s just working so smoothly.”

On the following Thursday’s pickup, the mission ended up with 37 pounds of food, including two apple pies and a plastic bin of lettuce, tomatoes, avocados and green bell peppers. The group recently acquired a second bike trailer through a donation and is signing up and training new volunteers. It also is branching into composting food that’s too far gone to eat and dispersing the compost to farmers and gardeners who can use it for plants and to feed pigs and chickens. “There’s just so much need out there, and it’s so easy to do something about it,” Dunford said. “We want to do as much as we can to make things better and more sustainable.”

Hole Food Rescue on KHOL Radio

We are so happy to be getting more and more publicity in Jackson and getting the opportunity to share our knowledge on food waste in the community. Alison Dunford, the founder of Hole Food Rescue, got a chance to interview with KHOL radio host Eric Lovely.

Click here to listen to Hole Food Rescue Interview on KHOL Radio!

Here are some fun photos from previous Hole Food Rescue missions over the winter!