As the zero-waste movement gains popularity, many of us are thinking of different ways to share our abundant produce. In addition to cooking your fresh food immediately, re-purposing leftovers, and composting, there's something else we can all do with a pantry and refrigerator sweep: donate our goods to our neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity.
Where does this fit in with urban farming? Well, the food banks are stocked with condensed soups, grains, and processed foods, which are wonderful and very appreciated donations. But from a nutritional standpoint, they're lacking nutrient-rich fresh produce, simply because it goes bad quickly and a lot of people aren't really sure how to create meals from whole foods. (Before farming and nutrition, neither did I! Canned and frozen goods were my go-to's as well, and cooking with fresh foods really took some practice.)
Here's where you come in. If you have a garden that is producing more than you can eat, donate your harvest! Check out http://ampleharvest.org/, which directs you to food pantries in your area that accept your fresh produce. Maybe even add a cute recipe that can be copied and distributed with your produce, including step-by-step instructions for the recipient!
Gardening tips: make sure you pick your produce before it reaches peak ripeness, since most food banks can't distribute the food quickly enough for ripe foods to maintain their nutritional value and flavor. For example, you should pick that tomato as it's turning red from green, and when it's still feeling a little dense. That way it'll ripen as it sits on the shelf, and will be enjoyed at its optimal flavor!
Another great thing to do is donate your time. I like volunteering with food pantries and gardens in my community because I get to meet people and share my passion for nutrition and growing their own self-sufficient gardens with them. I'm inspired by people who set out to make a difference, and those who are very humble about it, seeking no recognition for their works outside of their personal satisfaction. Find something you're passionate about and give a little of yourself to it; you won't be sorry!
In the spirit of zero-waste, be mindful of what you throw away, what you can save, and what you can donate. Your contributions make a big difference in your community. And remember:
Till next time,
Dallas Farmer Gal