Sacramento, California - March 5-9 is Food Waste Prevention Week
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Californians throw out around 5.6 million tons of food every year, accounting for about 18 percent of the state’s waste stream. In fact, an estimated 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste, the equivalent of tossing $165 billion into landfills each year.
But we are making progress. Governments, non-profits and private industry are working collaboratively to reduce food waste. On the forefront of this charge are California’s farmers and ranchers. Here are some ways in which the people responsible for growing our food are helping to prevent it from going to waste:
Having grown in popularity in recent years, the imperfect or “ugly” fruit movement continues to develop in supermarkets across the country. The concept is simple. Certain commodities must meet industry cosmetic standards. In the past, food that didn’t make the cut, despite being perfectly edible, was either recycled or tossed. Some estimates suggest that depending on the crop, anywhere from one to 30 percent of food grown by farmers doesn’t make it to the grocery store. But that is changing. Increasingly, growers in California are partnering with companies like the Bay-Area based Imperfect Produce, which aims to sell that food at a discounted price. Founded in 2015, the company now has a presence in both Northern and Southern California, and continues to expand its network by partnering with growers across the state. According to the group, their imperfect produce can cost 30 to 50 percent less than retail price, providing affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to communities’ that typically have limited access to nutritious produce.
California’s farmers and ranchers are no strangers to social media. They use these platforms to share pictures of their crops, exchange information, and–more recently–to save food. A few years ago, Bloomfield Organics, an organic farming operation in Sonoma County figured out a way to sell its excess via social media. By sharing the availability of their remaining product with an already robust online community, the farm was able to sell produce that would have otherwise gone to waste. These efforts ultimately evolved into the site, CropMobster, where growers can help build communities that focus on food waste prevention and resource sharing based on geographical locations.
California’s almond industry is finding innovative ways to make use every part of the tree fruit. According to a 2017 report by the Almond Board of California, in addition to the 2.1 billion pounds of almonds produced in 2016, trees also produced 4.2 billion pounds of hulls and 1.5 billion pounds of shells. The hulls and shells, along with the woody biomass of trees, serve as co-products for nutritious cattle feed, livestock bedding, and energy production. Hulls in particular, have become a valuable ingredient for livestock feed.
California’s farmers and ranchers are committed to the fight against food waste. However, the most effective way to save food begins on the individual level. To learn more about tips and strategies to reduce food waste in your community please visit: https://www.savethefood.com .