There is an incredible movement going on now that was started by several anti-hunger activists in an effort to stop the waste of fresh produce. Many perfectly good fruits and vegetables are discarded during the picking and sorting process simply because they don't look appealing! According to National Geographic, we lose 2.9 trillion pounds of food each year - which is a third of what we produce in gardens and farms in the world - and is enough food to feed a least a billion more people. Not to be a total bummer, but that's a scary statistic considering how many hungry people there are in the world!
The idea that this bowl of fresh produce from my urban farm, which I found to be absolutely delicious, would be discarded at the first phase of food distribution, is shocking:
According to Feeding the 5,000 and the Ugly Fruit and Veg Campaign, the average breakdown of wasted food from picking to homes is a little scary. (Keep in mind this table doesn't take the amount of water and resources used to grow the produce):
20% lost during picking and sorting --> 3% lost during storage and shipping --> 2% lost during juice production, baking, or canning in factories --> 9% discarded at wholesalers and supermarkets (due to esthetics or the staff determining the produce isn't good) --> 19% uneaten and tossed at home = 53% of all produce lost or wasted, and only 47% is consumed!
What can you do? For starters, don't throw your garden bounty away unless a bug has made a home in it. Two-pronged carrots, heart-shaped tomatoes and beets, funky cucumbers...those are all just as delicious as their "perfect" counterparts! There are many food preservation methods I'll be writing about in upcoming weeks, but for now, if you have harvested more than you can eat, go to AmpleHarvest.org and find a food pantry who will take your precious produce and give it to people in need.
Go to the grocery store or the farmer's market armed with meals you've planned for the next week, and avoid buying with your eyes. If you won't eat it, don't buy it! With 19% of food being tossed at home (and I'm guilty too), we can't afford to keep wasting food. Ask for a discount on imperfect produce, and tell your friends on social media. Find ways of using the greens of the carrots and beets, and the frawns of the fennel bulb, such as in garnish or soup. And if you've gotta toss it, please compost it instead of bagging it in plastic.
There are countless ways you can stop food waste, and I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
Till next time,
Dallas Farmer Gal
"I'm not an ugly yellow lemon...I'm a PURDY yellow lemon!"