It’s 10:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning in late July, and 15 families are lined up outside SnowCap Community Charities in the Rockwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Many have been waiting for over an hour in hopes that they’ll get first dibs at this food pantry, which is the largest in the state, serving over 9,000 people a month. The old model was that food pantries gave clients a pre-packed box of food. But SnowCap, like an increasing number of food pantries across the U.S., allows clients to “shop” or choose for themselves what they want to eat. There are limitations on some items, and generally speaking, the earlier they arrive, the better the pickings. Read more
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Approximately 40 percent of the food we produce in the U.S. goes to waste, and only 5 percent of that waste is being recycled. In other words, there is a lot of room for positive change.
For this segment of the Perennial Plate, we followed along on garbage trucks in Boulder (a zero-waste city) and went behind the scenes at the Heartland Biogas Project near LaSalle, Colorado. The project is a collaboration between EDF Energy and A1 Organics and it combines food waste and animal waste in an anaerobic digester system to produce biogas for the region. And while creating energy from food waste will never be as sustainable as preventing waste in the first place, as Scott Pexton of A1 Organics describes it, it’s “one rung up the ladder from composting.” Read more
Wendy Estrada-Perez hadn’t tried kale until she received some in a bag of free fruits and vegetables offered at her daughter’s school. “I had always heard about kale,” she says, “but we’re a Mexican family and we eat what we’ve been taught.” Now Estrada-Perez says the leafy green is a regular part of her family’s diet. Kiwi was another new food she was sure her daughter would reject. But when it arrived through a nonprofit called Brighter Bites, her daughter loved it. And she’s not alone. Read more
If you’ve ever argued with your significant other about whether to eat something that has been in your cupboard for a while, you’re not alone.
“One of the most common arguments people seem to have at home is about whether or not food should be thrown out just because the date on the label has passed. It’s time to settle that argument, end the confusion, and stop throwing away perfectly good food,” Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) announced in a statement she released yesterday in conjunction with a federal bill called Food Date Labeling Act.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) proposed an identical bill in the Senate, and the two lawmakers hope to do more than reduce domestic disputes. They’re also planning to help consumers waste less food. Read more
The group, comprised of businesses, nonprofits, foundations, and government leaders, spent 18 months researching how and why Americans are wasting over 62 million tons of food a year and developing ways to fix to the problem. It recommended over two dozen solutions aimed at cutting that waste by 20 percent within 10 years (a sizable yet more modest goal that the one the Obama Administration set last fall to cut food waste in half by 2030). Read more
As the population grows, prime farmland is diminishing. The combination of these two opposing realities makes larger questions about how to source the fiber we use to make clothing much more difficult to answer.
For one, natural fibers like often cotton require the same farmland and resources as food crops. And while the global demand for synthetic fibers is more than double that of natural fibers, most of it is petroleum-based polyester, a non-renewable resource. Read more
Funny, Imperfect, Inglorious, Misfit, Ugly, Unloved. These are just a few of the affectionate names businesses are using for less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables they hope to rescue from the landfill. Now, Giant Eagle Supermarkets has launched a pilot program called “Produce with Personality,” making it the largest supermarket in the U.S to sell ugly produce so far. Read more
It can seem like no one cooks anymore. Most grocery stores (and even some gas stations) have a wealth of pick-up options for hungry people at the end of a long day of work. Processed meals have made it into the organic aisle with brands like Amy’s and Annie’s. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that since 1970, the number of meals eaten away from home has risen from 25 to 43 percent of total food spending per household.
And if Michael Pollan’s new documentary series, Cooked, which begins streaming on Netflix today, is any further evidence, the spread of processed foods and Western diets is taking out cooking, one family at a time. Read more
Every fall, farmers in Washington throw away a sizable portion of the apples they grow. In 2015, thanks to the West Coast port slowdown and a lack of refrigeration, farmers in the state dumped an estimated $100 million worth of the fruit (or 143,000 bushels) in fields where they were left to rot, causing the nearby town to smell like rancid fruit for days. Read more