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How to Repurpose Your Food Waste

There is a serious waste problem not only Canada, but throughout the world.  One of the main issues is that we as consumers are huge contributors.

It’s a fact that most households waste an entire bag of groceries worth of food for every five bags bought. That’s a huge percentage.

Maybe it’s the casserole you put in the back of the fridge and forgot about, or maybe it’s half a pack of mushrooms that look kind of shrivelled and dead.

Even if you’re generally good with your wastage and do your best to recycle and have a compost bin, before you toss those scraps, think about how you could really get the most out of them before you chuck ‘em.

Here are some handy tips on how you can repurpose your waste food:

#1 – Don’t Throw Away The Leaves

For many people, whenever they buy vegetables where the leaves aren’t the star of the show (think broccoli, beets, celery or cauliflower) the go-to action is to cut them off and throw them straight out.

But wait!

The leaves are just as edible as the main part of the veggie and are like any leafy green – incredibly nutritious!

Cook the leaves like you would cabbage our kale. They make a great addition to soups and smoothies too!

#2 – Scraps Equals Stock

Potato and carrot peels, chicken bones and onion skin all make the best flavorings for stock. Believe me, you will never use a stock cube again!

Do you know just how nutrient rich the skins of vegetables are? Yet many of us peel them and throw them away.

Whether you want to make a veggie stock from peels and ends, chicken stock from bones or a mixture of the two, just throw all the scraps into a slow cooker or pot filled with water, bring it to a heavy boil and then let it simmer for around eight hours. All you have to do is strain out the solids and it’s done.

The best part is, as soon as the stock is made you can freeze it for months, meaning you have delicious homemade stock on hand for anything.

My personal favorite thing to do is to freeze stock in ice cube trays. Then you can just pop a cube or two out any time you need one. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a base for soups or stews, you’d be amazed how tasty a spag bol can be with a homemade stock cube thrown in.

#3 – Tasty Baked Skins

One of my favorite, easiest and cheapest treats to make is baked potato skins. Considering you would otherwise be throwing the skins away, this is a super cheap treat!

Potato are the best from my personal opinion, but any of your favorite veggies will work (carrot taste great too).

Simply ensure you wash your veggies thoroughly before you peel them. Then take the peelings, drizzle them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and maybe some chilli flakes if you’re feeling feisty, then bake until crispy.

I make these with a garlic mayo and small side salad and you have a great starter for a dinner party you made with scraps!

#4 – Pet Popsicle

I have two very longhaired dogs and in the summer it gets pretty hot for them. One of their favorite all time summer treats is a meaty popsicle.

The first time I made this, it was as a kind of birthday cake for my dog and it was not only a hit with her but all the cats in the neighbourhood!

In the same way you would make stock, boil meat and or chicken bones – you can throw in some veggie skins for some added nutrition but let’s face it, the meaty flavor is what they are going for – then once you strain off the bones put some in small bowls and freeze.

One of the things I do is throw in some dog treats or if I have any scraps of meat or liver. Once frozen you just tip them out and watch your pet go crazy!

Not only is it super tasty and nutritious, it’s a great cool treat on a hot day and the little treats the find inside now and again make a welcome surprise.

#5 – Pack Your Scraps as You Go

Many times you may not have enough scraps from one meal to make a stock smoothie or pesto, but the great thing is, you can save any off cuts, peels, leaves or bones and bag them and freeze them.

Then when you have enough, simply toss them straight in a pot of water.

This week’s guest blogger is Helen Sanders.

Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.

Christmas Plan Not To Waste

Santa’s bag of goodies need not create your bag of trash.

Household waste can increase more than 25% in the holiday season. This Christmas season take action to prevent and reduce waste. Take a few moments from shopping or thinking of dancing sugar plums to develop a Christmas Zero Waste Action Plan. The reason for the plan is to organize your household and activities so that it is easy to take the necessary actions to reduce waste.

Consider these tips to help you with your Zero Waste Action Plan.

  1. RETHINK CHRISTMAS: One of the greatest gifts that we can give to all inhabitants of the world is to conserve resources for the future and to reduce the impact of our environmental footprint. By adopting a Zero Waste approach in our own lives we not only give a gift of a better future but we save animals, soil and air. Sometimes we confuse trying to create an abundance of joy with an abundance of stuff.   Plan to reduce consumption and increase interaction with family, friends or community. Remember that Christmas is about the traditions not the stuff.
  2. K.I.S.S.: Christmas is not perfect and it is not a competition. The principle of K.I.S.S (keep it simple Santa) is good working principle when organising decorating, gift-giving and food.  The reward for trying to compete for “best and biggest” or competing with Martha Stewart or the Jones to produce the most extravagant Christmas is unnecessary stress and usually lots of waste.
  3. MINDFUL SHOPPING: Before acquiring more stuff, ask yourself if you really need it. Consider renting, borrowing or sharing equipment and products you may have limited use for. Being mindful of what kind of products we bring into our lives is the best way to avoid generating waste afterwards.
  4. TAKE STOCK: What do you have in the cupboards and refrigerator that needs used? Incorporate the food items that need to be used in your holiday menu and find recipes that use ingredients that you have on hand. Before going out to buy the spice, check if you have it.
  5. Set a budget for Christmas expenditure and stick to it.
  6. Plan your shopping trips and stick to a list of planned purchases.
  7. Learn what you can about the recycling, composting, reuse, and garbage programs in your community. Many communities have websites and apps to with useful information about what materials can be recycled and composted. Follow the program rules .Avoid bringing products into your life that cannot be recycled or composted or reused in your community.
  8. Have discard management plan. Have recycling, compost and garbage containers labelled and ready and where they are needed. Instead of that big black garbage bag after present unwrapping have containers to separate reuse and repurpose, recyclables and waste. Contamination in recycling and compost is a real problem for community programs at Christmas.
  9. Enlist a cleanup team. Make clean up part of the celebration as socializing can still happen as you put leftovers away. This is a great time for kids to teach adults about recycling and adults to teach kids about reducing food waste.
  10. Plan your menu and be realistic about portion sizes. When planning on how much food is needed take into account if guests have been snacking, children, picky eaters and variety of items and total amount of food served (do you need to subtract some portions) If you are not sure of how much food will be required, check out this handy serving calculator on the LOVE FOOD Hate Waste site http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portions/everyday. When planning menu think about storage and leftovers. Have a plan to use leftovers
  11. Have storage containers ready for leftovers. Use your freezer as a lifeline to rescue leftovers for another time.
  12. Give doggy bags to guests who may not finish meals.
  13. Share leftovers with someone who did not have a Christmas dinner.
  14. Avoid single use items like plastic utensils, and paper plates instead opt instead for cloth napkins, cutlery and china. Do not be afraid to mix and match or borrow.

 

Organizing your celebrations with a Zero Waste Action Plan will cut out stress, waste and save both time and money.

Christmas Leftover Recipe

We would like to share this recipe from Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun Food and Science beat writer, science reporter for TV’s Empowered Health, Green Man Blogger, author of Grow What You Eat. Eat What You Grow.

Turkey and Stars Soup

(Recipe from Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow, courtesy Randy Shore Arsenal Press)

Boxing Day soup is how Darcy and I turn Christmas Day’s frenzy of feasting into a next-day cleanse. It also puts to immediate use the large pot of turkey stock we cooked we cooked after dinner the night before. The kids prefer this soup with star-shaped semolina noodles called stelline, but any small semolina pasts will work. However, our kids beg for Turkey and Stars and yours will, too.

 

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cups (500ml) diced onions

2 cups (500ml) diced carrots

2 cups (500ml) diced celery

2 tsp kosher salt

1tsp fresh ground pepper

1tsp fresh thyme leaves

½ cup (125ml) pinot grigio

12 cups (3L) turkey stock

11/4 cups (250g) stelline pasta

1 cup (250ml) diced green beans

3 cups (750ml) cubed leftover turkey

Parsley for garnish

In a large soup pot on medium low heat, add olive oil, carrots, celery, salt, pepper and thyme. Stir occasionally until softened, about five minutes. Add wine and reduce for 3 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil and add the pasta stirring continuously for about one minute to prevent sticking, then simmer 10 minutes. Taste stock and adjust seasoning. Add green beans and turkey, simmer another 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with a turkey sandwich. Make 8 servings

Reducing Food Waste in Stores

Food waste occurs all along the food chain in Canada, from field to supermarket to home kitchen. According to Statistics Canada (2010) estimates, in 2009, Canadian food waste at the retail and consumer level amounted to approximately 122 kg per person for total fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, 6 kg for dairy products, 10 kg of poultry (boneless) and 16 kg of red meats (boneless), and 18 kg of oils, fats, sugar and syrup. This week’s post focus on some simple tips that may help retail stores in reducing food waste.

Stop overstocking produce displays: Most grocery stores operate on the assumption that consumers are more likely to abundant displays.  Building pyramids of stacked produce often leads to damaged product. The illusion of abundance can be created by using mirrors over display areas or partially covered boxes or baskets.

Training staff: Training staff on proper handling and storage of produce reduces produce damage and spoilage. Rotating stock (first in- first out) identifying products that have short-shelf lives, storing products at correct temperature are all areas of knowledge that if staff possess can help management to reduce waste. Knowledgeable staff also can help to educate consumers on proper handling of merchandise.

Reduce handling: A recent report by ADEME on reducing food waste in supermarkets in France highlighted how the efforts of a store in Boulogne –sur- Mer that hired staff to sell delicate fruit to patrons lead to 15,000 euros in savings over a two month period.

Specials on fresh ready-made foods near closing time: Stores are increasingly offering more prepared, ready-made food in their delicatessens and buffets. This can be a good way to make use of marginally damaged or nearly expired products if the labor is available to do so. However, as with produce, store managers often feel compelled that displays of ready-made items remain fresh and fully stocked instead of letting shelves hold fewer items as they run out. Another solution is to offer these products at a reduced price near closing time to promote the sale of products.

Change BOGOF(Buy one, get one free) to BOGOL : Buy One Get One Free is another cause of food waste.  in many instances, consumers buy more than necessary and throw out the second package. BOGOL(BUY ONE GET ONE LATER) was introduced by Tesco supermarkets in the UK in 2009, and it gives customers the opportunity to pick up their free product during their next shopping trip.  Not only does it help reduce waste in the home but it encourages consumers to revisit store.

Preventing food waste is possible and it can save supermarkets money.

World Food Day

October 16th was World Food Day. World Food Day is annually held on October 16 to commemorate the founding of the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Each year has a different theme. This year’s message is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

On Oct 5th 2016, Bill C-231, a private members bill introduced by Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier-Maskinongé), the New Democrat agriculture critic, seeking to develop a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada as well as a national food waste awareness day was defeated in the House of Commons. Bill C-231 called for implementation of the Fight Against Food Waste Act, which would comprise a national day of awareness about food waste; and, a national strategy aimed at raising public awareness of food waste, putting tools in place to help consumers reduce food waste; facilitating donation of blemished but edible food to community organizations and food banks, studying various ways to reduce the environmental impact of the production of unused food resources, and establishing food waste reduction targets.

While Bill C-231 was defeated, Ms Brosseau put a spotlight on two issues food waste and loss, and food insecurity both complex problems in our society that urgently need multiple solutions and actions.

Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too…but so must we as citizens of this planet.

Here are some things you can do:

*support small local farms by buying locally grown and insisting that local farms are an valued part of your sustainable community

*conserve water

* feed the soil

*keep soil and water clean

*Create businesses that use food that may otherwise be wasted

*buy only what you will use (recognize there is a difference between need and want)

*support humanitarian outreach, development investment and policy interventions that enhance resilience for communities effected by climate change

* buy fair trade products

* reduce your waste

While World Food Day was Oct 16 the issues of food, waste, food insecurity, climate change are issues that we face daily around the globe. We can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Waste-Less School Lunches

School lunches can generate lots of waste .Our friends at Recycling Council of Ontario state that the average student’s lunch generates a total of 30 kilograms of waste per school year, or an average school generates 8500 kilograms (18,700 lbs) of waste per school per year.

One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children is how to reduce waste. The lunch box is the perfect opportunity for parents, students and teachers to join together to instill Zero Waste values and habits.

As a classroom or school initiative, Recycling Council of Ontario has developed a program called The Waste-free Lunch Challenge, where students commit to bringing a waste-free lunch to school during Waste Reduction Week (Oct 19-Oct 23). Students compete with other classes and schools to reduce lunch waste with prizes and recognition is given classes or schools most successful at reducing lunchtime waste. The program has a selection of resource material to support the Challenge including videos, posters and sample newsletters.

According to a study by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency food waste makes up 23% of waste generated at school: there is a need for the impacts of food waste to be discussed both by teachers and parents. Perhaps parents or schools having policies that children bring home food they don’t eat would help with an awareness of changes required.

Disposable snack packaging is often not recyclable or it is contaminated with food contributes to even more waste generated at lunchtime.

This year encourage your school and child to make lunchtime a Waste- Free event.

Tips for Waste-Less Lunches

  • involve children in the waste-free lunch goal
  • plan lunches with kids
  • have a lunch kit or bag that is reusable
  • pack food and drinks in reusable containers
  • use cloth napkins and reusable cutlery
  • pack small portions
  • make your own granola bars, cookies, chips or fruit snacks and pack them in reusable wrap
  • buy bulk instead of single servings. Buy a large yogurt and put smaller portion in reusable container.
  • make sure all food and drink containers can be easily resealed to prevent leakage
  • make lunch fun and creative. Try making a bento box lunch or a mason jar lunches for older kids.
  • cut up fruit and veggies into small bite size pieces
  • to avoid morning rush pack lunches the night before and keep in refrigerator
  • give children responsibility. Children can learn food preparation by helping to make lunches and help clean reusable containers.

 

This school year make lunch waste-free.

TEO FOODS: Teen Entrepreneurs on a Mission to Reduce Food Waste

TEO FOODS is on a mission to reduce food waste.

Over the years, Zero Waste Canada has been very privileged to share the amazing stories of youth making a difference around the world. We are excited this week to interview Lillian Chen, a young entrepreneur, from Houston Texas, who along with seven other high school students launched TEO FOODS, a subscription snack box business that promotes healthy snack foods made from made from “forgotten” or imperfect  foods.

Lillian Chen of Teo Foods

ZWC: How did your life experiences impact your decision to start Teo Foods?

Everyone has that person in their life that has been their biggest influence ever since they can remember. For me, that was my mother. Growing up, my mother was my role model and my best friend. As a child, my mother also constantly reminded me to never waste my food. I’m from a very typical Asian family that sees waste as against our customs and morals. Unfortunately, I resisted eating my vegetables, as any normal kid would, and wasted them at each meal. You want me to finish the broccoli? Yuck, no!

That was, until my mother got breast cancer when I was 9 years old. Our family completely transformed the way we ate and the way we viewed food as we began to see how important fresh, wholesome, and organic foods were to our body. After witnessing how much my mother suffered from cancer and almost losing her to this deadly disease, I wanted to live out the principles she taught me and help others obtain and be encouraged to eat healthy food.

Seeing the contradiction between my home, where waste was practically nonexistent, and restaurants, in which massive quantities of leftovers were thrown away, I began to wonder how big of an issue was food waste in all of America. Once I researched and found out that more than 150 billion pounds of food was wasted each year (that’s enough food to fill the Rose Bowl football stadium EVERY DAY), yet 1 in 5 families are starving and cannot afford healthy, organic produce due to their high costs, I became determined to do something about it. I wanted to find a way to give back to the community and to the mother I so loved who taught me the right principles to live by.

ZWC: Lillian what are the three start ups that you have worked on?

Project Intact- As of September 2014, every new car produced is mandated by the government to include a Blackbox, a device that continuously collects memory data of the car’s braking patterns, acceleration habits, etc. Project Intact provides software that analyzes this Blackbox data to assess who is at fault of a car crash. We aim to help insurance companies by solving the issue of insurance fraud, which is a $8 billion problem.

MIT Launch Entrepreneurship Program– Launch Houston is a program I founded to teach high schoolers the basic tools to start their own ventures. It’s sponsored by the MIT Launch Entrepreneurship Program. In Launch Houston, high school students in the Houston area spend the entire school year learning entrepreneurship skills, working on teams, and building their own companies from idea to future growth. Teams participate in a International Pitch Competition at MIT in May, in which they pitch their ventures in front of a panel of investors.

Loca Foods- Loca Foods is an online platform that connects local farmers to individuals, restaurants, and school cafeterias to provide them with easy, efficient access to healthy food as well as help local farmers increase their revenue and customer base.

Loca Foods also strives to provide high school students with healthier lunch meals. By connecting cafeterias with organic ingredients, Loca Foods aims to reduce the obesity rates in Houston as well as educate students on the importance of eating healthy.

ZWC: When did you launch TEO Foods?

June 25th, 2016 was the day our team formed together. TEO Foods’ website was officially launched around August 18th.

ZWC: Why did you focus on snack foods by subscription?

At first, when our team first started to tackle the issue of food waste, we explored the avenues of creating snacks from the ugly and excess foods to directly decrease food waste. After weeks of extensive research, we found companies were already doing this. We wondered why weren’t their products more well-known? Through our desire to provide these products and the awareness about food waste to more people, our solution was formed. We partner with and promote a diversified portfolio of waste-reducing companies by selling their products through our online subscription service. That way, we can attract more people to the idea of decreasing food waste, grow the repurposed food market, and indirectly cut down on this food waste issue.

Also, subscription boxes have been gaining popularity over the past few years and have seen a rapid annual growth of over 200% since 2011. We wanted to reach as much people as possible, and from our numerous surveys, we found that the overwhelming majority of people preferred delivery/methods that saved them time to buying snacks in grocery stores.

Average age- 17 years old.

ZWC: Did your business benefit from any business incubator programs or crowdfunding to help you develop or fund your business?

Yes, like I mentioned before, we benefited from the mentorship of Catapult’s incubator program. Through Catapult, we received mentorships with corporate leaders and top graduate students and access to thought-leaders in the technology, venture capital, and social entrepreneurship spaces. At the culmination of this incubator program, we pitched to 23 judges and won both the Overall Favorite & Social Impact Awards. We also received $1,000 grant and one-on-one mentorship from the venture capital firm 1517 Fund to help propel us over the next few months.

ZWC: Is social media the main tool that you use to promote your business?

As of now, social media and word of mouth/connections are our two biggest avenues for promoting our business. Since we are small and only recently launched, we are relying on friends and families, as well as connections with mentors and people in this food/health industries, to grow our sales and customer acquisition.

ZWC: Who do you see as the target market for these healthy snack foods?

Initially families, individuals aged 18-35 years old who live healthy, active, and socially/environmentally-conscious lives.

However, we want to expand our future target market to innovative & environmental corporate business/startups who can give our subscription box snacks to their employees as holiday gifts or brain food (Google gives a lot of snacks to their employees). Companies are the customers that we think we can get most of our sales from. With increased sales, we can then start to donate part of our profits to hunger-stricken families and homeless shelters to reduce the prevalence of starvation in the world.

ZWC: Did you have any difficulties finding suppliers creating snack foods from food that would have been wasted?

We did have a relatively hard time finding these suppliers. It took us a couple weeks of extensive and purposeful research to find these companies/suppliers that were repurposing ugly and excess foods into snacks. But this difficulty is one of the main reasons we were prompted to create this type of business because we wanted to make waste-reducing companies well-known and available to the general population. Forming mutually beneficial partnerships with waste reducing companies was easy though. A simple email or phone call was all we had to do. Because our missions align together and we help increase advertising and customers for these companies, they were eager to send us their products at discounted and sometimes free prices and advertise for us as well. We see each other as allies rather than enemies because we are all helping each other strive to our goal of reducing food waste.

ZWC: Are you actively looking for more product choices or are you developing your own products?

Currently, we are actively looking for more and have already found a dozen or so more that we can include in our boxes. In the future, once we achieve a larger customer base and enough profits, we are thinking to develop and manufacture our own products from ugly/excess produce to directly cut down on food waste.

ZWC: Packaging of snack foods can be problematic in terms of recyclability, does your company do anything to reduce this form of waste for consumers?

Our company seeks to use biodegradable/recyclable boxes to ship our snacks.

We encourage our partners to make their product’s packaging biodegradable/recyclable too. We are also working with them to make their packages smaller to decrease the amount of waste.

We hope to partner with an organization that makes decomposable boxes in the future or make our own decomposable boxes as well.

ZWC: Many school organizations or youth sports teams sell products to fundraise for their teams and organizations, will your boxes of healthy snack foods be marketed for this purpose?

We are hoping that our snack boxes could be marketed to these sports teams/events, school organizations, as well as in airplanes. We currently have established a collaboration with the Houston Dynamos soccer team, one of the major league soccer teams in the U.S. We are providing the soccer players with our snack boxes. Since I and one other teammate of mine are attending college this upcoming fall, we do intend to provide these products first to college environmental clubs and then to school organizations in areas near our colleges.

ZWC: What dreams do you have for TEO Foods?

On top of expansion plans that I have for Teo (mentioned in previous answers)… My dream for Teo Foods is to be the brand known for making food waste solutions easy, affordable, and appealing. I hope our site can begin to direct people to other waste-reducing products and that we can obtain commission from those companies who are getting increased traffic from us. After Teo Foods achieves greater sales and starts creating its own recovered products, I want Teo to start selling other objects to increase people’s awareness about this issue. From vegan designer clothes with powerful messages to waste-reducing kitchen technology, Teo Foods can become an online platform that provides numerous of innovative products that decrease food waste–the new “Amazon for Food Waste.” Eventually, I also see Teo Foods providing schools and colleges with talks, classes, and educational material about food waste, inspiring people at a young age to think critically about how they view, treat, and eat food and how they can further help the world.

ZWC: For you how important is it to “make a difference” while being an entrepreneur?

Making a difference is, in my opinion, what makes an entrepreneur… an entrepreneur. It’s the seed that sparks almost every entrepreneur to quit their high-paying corporate job and instead pursue something they are passionate about. Entrepreneurs see opportunities to doing good as far more valuable than monetary wealth. That’s why they are willing to risk stability and job security to do something more meaningful for this world. Making a difference, to me, is why I want to be an entrepreneur and why I wanted to start Teo Foods. This desire to “make a difference” is what I believe fuels so many entrepreneurs passions and motivates them to create a successful startup despite the arduous, long path and many failures/risks they are faced with.

ZWC: What was the biggest lesson you learned from starting this business?

-You can’t do this alone.

-A leader does not manage, a leader inspires others to become leaders as well.

-Sometimes you won’t have the perfection solution, but a solution is better than no solution. Once you hone down the problem, stick to a solution that will achieve your mission and don’t be afraid to try it. You might fail, and if so, fail fast and move on to another solution. But you never know unless you try.

-Be passionate and kind, and most of all, genuine. Good people are naturally attracted to those qualities and when they see them reflect honestly from your heart, they will want to help you too.

 

Teo Foods isn’t just another “snack box” company, it’s a team of motivated, passionate, and inquisitive high school students on a quest to change the world for the better. Check out more information about TEO FOODS at www.teofoods.squarespace.com. Support Lillian and the team by buying a box or sharing about Teo Foods to your followers.

Less Waste. More Taste. Go Teo!  Go Zero Waste !

Fruit Tree Projects: Rescuing Backyard Fruit

Fruit Tree Projects across Canada are tackling the problem of food waste in our own backyards.

Those fruit trees in our backyards can be a fabulous source of fresh, healthful food for family, friends or food banks. The bounty from backyard fruit trees can sometimes go to waste when fruit doesn’t get picked when it’s ripe, or there’s just too much fruit for one family to use when things ripen all at once.

Fruit Tree Projects are a form of urban gleaning: picking a crop, especially the part of a crop that might have previously gone to waste while connecting this food with individuals in need.

Fruit Tree Projects are non-profit organizations that rely on volunteers to pick the fruit. A common model of harvest sharing for these food recovery groups is one-third of produce for home-owner, one-third of produce goes to volunteer pickers and one-third goes to a local organization that can use food. The Halton Food Tree Project has donated rescued produce to organizations like Refresh Foods For Life and given 5000 apples to a farm to school food program.

The first Fruit Tree Project was founded in Victoria B.C. in 1998, LifeCycles Project Society . This community organization focuses on initiatives that create urban sustainability and food security solutions and has grown to provide projects that promote growing food and cooking healthy affordable meals.

Fruit Tree Projects can be found across Canada with large cities like Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal having recovery/gleaning groups. Fruit Tree projects can also be found in smaller communities like Nelson B.C.

The benefits of Fruit Tree Projects include reducing food waste, improving access to local food, building community, knowledge sharing and addressing climate change. As an example to highlight the positive impact of these programs in Victoria, LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project harvests between 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of produce from privately owned trees that would otherwise go to waste. Toronto’s fruit tree project, Not Far from the Tree estimates that is approximately 1.5 million pounds produced by Toronto’s urban canopy and most goes unpicked.

With over 4 million individuals in Canada experiencing food insecurity, these local solutions can create opportunities and positive impacts in our communities.

If do not have a Fruit Tree project in your community, you may want to start one, LifeCycles has produced an informative guide on how to start a Fruit Tree Project .

If you have fruit trees that may go to waste consider contacting your local “Fruit Tree Project” .Or if you are looking for a rewarding volunteer experience for the whole family volunteer to pick fruit.

Fruit is a valuable natural resource that is too good to waste.

More links

Is supersizing creating more waste?

We associate the term “supersize’ with the portions at fast food restaurants, and the 2004 documentary by Morgan Spurlock, Super Size Me., but  are the portions we are consuming and waste becoming supersized?

In the early 2000’s health officials raised the alarm about the correlation of increased portion sizes and the increase of obesity. We are now become more aware of food waste issues as well.

North Americans spend nearly half their food budget, and consume one-third of daily calories, from foods prepared outside of home where portion sizes have increased greatly.

According to WRAP results of a survey of 5000 restaurant customers in the UK to explore “why people leave food when eating out”, two-fifths of customers left food because the portions were too large.

Doctor Lisa Young and other researchers  also point out shoppers are also confused about appropriate serving sizes. The current labelling on food products are often out of date and no longer depict realistic serving sizes.

Serving sizes at home and restaurants are not matching our recommended Food Guide servings.

To hold our supersize servings, plates have increased in size. Grandma’s china dishes of the 1960 with plates of an average of 9 inch diameter must be replaced with newer plates that are 11 to 12 inches in diameter.

Consumers frequently complain about purchases being over-packaged. Today, an average person living in Western Europe or North America consumes 100 kilograms of plastic each year, mostly in the form of packaging. According to the United Nations Environmental Program, between 22 percent and 43 percent of the plastic used worldwide is disposed of in landfills.

In 1960 Barbie dolls were packaged in small boxes with cellophane windows and while today’s doll travels the same distance the packaging has drastically increased.

The original concept behind packaging was to protect the product from damage and to aid storage and transportation. Today much more is involved in the careful design of a product package; it is now a marketing tool to motivate us to buy the merchandise.

We have become supersize shoppers. The Daily Mail reports that women in the U.K. buy half of their body weight in clothes each year, and the average woman in England has 22 unworn items in her closet.

To house our growing collections of stuff, we must build and buy bigger homes. The median size for newly constructed house today stands at 2,478 square feet, up from 983 square feet in 1950, even as family size has shrank during those years. Construction waste is a significant waste directed to landfills.

Municipal Solid Waste ( MSW) is expected to double by 2025; current global MSW generation levels are approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year, and are expected to increase to approximately 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025. This represents a significant increase in per capita waste generation rates, from 1.2 to 1.42 kg per person per day in the next fifteen years. OECD countries produce almost half of the world’s waste.

Landfills have kept pace with the amount of trash generated—they’ve just become larger, more efficient and more environmentally safe.

Our Supersize mentality of consumption and waste is reducing the resources we will have for the future. It is time to reduce our portions of everything we consume and discard.

Donate “good” food to food banks

Donating food to a food bank is a good thing but donating “unwanted” food may not be so good.

The problem is “unwanted’ does not mean something that you would not eat yourself. “Unwanted” does not mean rotten, half-used, past expiry dates, bug-infested or lacking any nutritional value.

Food banks regularly receive donations that do not help the food bank or help feed visitors to food banks.

Recently, The Greater Vancouver Food Bank warned it’s wasting too much money and wasting volunteer time after receiving too many unusable donations. The Greater Vancouver Food Bank spends about $40,000 a year to put this into the waste stream.

A study authored by Adrienne C. Teron, BASc, and  Valerie S. Tarasuk, PhD, Charitable Food Assistance: What are Food Bank Users Receiving? , 78% of hampers sampled contained at least one damaged or outdated item. The report also stated that over half the survey participants believed they had received food that was unsafe to eat. The visibly substandard nature of some of the food contribute to the embarrassment degradation some report in association with food bank use

Food donations that actually sustains an individual are needed .A case study, Can Food Banks Sustain Nutrient Requirements? , reported that 99% of food hampers sampled   failed to provide 3 days worth of nutrients. Grains and cereals met the lower range of Canada’s Food Guide recommendations, and fruits and vegetables, meats and alternatives, and dairy products were below recommended levels, as were numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, B12, C, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Carbohydrates were slightly above recommended DRI, and energy from fat and protein scarcely met the minimums recommended. Hampers contained 1.6 days worth of energy per person.

 

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Each month, over 850,000 people turn to food banks for help; more than one-third are children and youth.

What can you do?

  1. Donate good food
  2. Find out what your local food bank needs
  3. When clearing your cupboards make sure you read expiry dates and compost/discard anything that is past dates
  4. Donate only foods in packaging that has not been opened and is intact
  5. Forget the Kraft dinner and junk food and think of healthy meals
  6. Donate money Edmonton’s Food Bank spends $160,000 to purchase eggs to supplement hampers – and eggs are a healthy source of protein, easy to prepare and fit in many culturally appropriate diets.
  7. Close to 40% of food banks are run solely by volunteers, and the remainder rely heavily on volunteer assistance
  8. Donate regularly not just at Christmas
  9. Don’t waste food. Buy what you need and use it.
  10. Learn about food insecurity in Canada

 

We can help food banks feed those in need by sharing our good food not donating our discards.

Donating is not dumping.