Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Food Network Channel’s The Big Waste: Ugly Food

by Tamar Kaminski (Rep)

A couple of years ago the Food Network Channel had a competition among four prominent chefs called The Big Waste to see who could make the best meal using food from farms, grocery stores, and other food suppliers that was thrown out or in the process of being thrown out. The program followed chefs Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby Flay, and Michael Simon as they retrieved food in the process of being thrown out and later made restaurant quality food for a hundred people. This was an amazing awareness tactic—famous chefs in a competition on a channel whose audience is obviously invested in food.
Although they covered an array of topics involving food waste—different sources of food waste and ways to deal with it (including “dumpster diving”)—I think one of the critical messages of the show was responsible consumerism. Many of the grocery stores threw away bruised and blemished produce because costumers only buy “pretty” produce. There were similar issues with meat, fish, and egg suppliers; Food has to be aesthetically pleasing to the consumer, otherwise it goes to waste.
What can we do as consumers to deal with this issue?
1. Start buying “ugly” food. As proven on The Big Waste, a lot of food waste is completely edible and has the capacity to be made into restaurant quality meals, whether it is ugly or not uniform or past the sell date (different from the expiration date!). Consuming more ugly food means showing food suppliers that there is a demand for ugly food; they don’t have to throw away the produce left over at the end of the day.
2. Start eating the “ugly” food you have at home. That over-ripe tomato can be turned into marinara sauce and that brown banana can be turned into delicious banana bread. Be creative. Have fun with it.
Woo ugly food!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Wonderful Act of Gleaning

You may or may not have heard of this term, "gleaning," before, but it is used to describe the act of picking up unharvested food from farms at the end of their season. The food is perfectly good to eat, but it is left behind for reasons such as appearance, weight, or faulty mechanical harvesting. Luckily, there are the few, the gleaners, who pick up recover this delicious and nutritious food! 

One organization, Society of St. Andrew (SoSA), gleans food from farmers and brings it to places that feed those in need. Linda Tozer from SoSA stated, ""we are trying to build a network that will take food that would not make it to market for a variety of reasons and get it to agencies that are feeding the hungry" in an interview on NPR news in January 2011. The interview gives insight as well as to why so much produce is leftover to glean (in this particular case from a farm in TN, over 1,000lbs. of produce from one day!). Gleaning is not always "worth the farmer's time" nor concern. However, most farmers are not against gleaning (if they are notified of it, of course). It's tricky for farmers to say when exactly they are done selling as much produce as they can, in time for the gleaners to come before it all goes bad. However, if gleaners come in time, farmers can get a tax deduction from it.* 

Before gleaning, ask the farmer if they consent with it, and also when the best time of year to come is. From experience, it is most often okay with the farmer, and fall is the ideal season to glean away! By gleaning, one is helping the farmer clear his/her fields of produce that would otherwise rot in the ground. More so, it is a nutritional food recovery, whereas a lot of food recovery deals with less nutritious food (i.e. bagels, cookies, etc.). Plus, to glean, one has to get outside and be in direct contact with the farmer and his/her farm, which calls for fresh air and exercise! In the end, gleaning is a beneficial act for the farmer, the hungry, the gleaner, the economy, and the environment. 

*All facts/statements/quotes above were pulled from this interview on NPR news. Listen to it for the full 4-minute story!

  • JOIN US to go GLEAN some APPLES this SATURDAY! Sign up by WEDNESDAY here. Go to our fb event for details. 
  • Here is a list of farms in RI that let you pick your own produce/glean! Contact them for more info.
  • US efforts to help fight hunger by gleaning are highlighted in this story byNPR news. There's a short podcast featuring the Society of St. Andrew gleaning recovery program and a farm in TN. 
  • Check out the Society of St. Andrew here; a food recovery program centered around ending hunger through gleaning! They have a "food wasted in the US" counter on their home page, as well as their statistic of 25 million pounds of produce recovered! Woa. Impressive.
  • "The Gleaners and I" (originally "Les glaneurs et la glaneuse") a film by Agnes Varda from France in 2000, is an AWESOME documentary about gleaningHere is the full-length film online for free! It's even legal!
  • Check out the Garden Against Hunger project that Boulder Food Rescue started! It's aim is to recover excess food grown from local growers in Boulder and also to help educate the Boulder community about growing food. Pretty awesome. 

By LT Member Charlotte Hacke