Recycled Food May Come to a Cafe Near You

Food waste is at an all time high in the United States, with anywhere between 30 and fifty percent of all food produced going into the garbage before ever touching a plate. One Tufts University student hopes to take a stab at that statistic, offering free food taken from dumpsters outside grocery stores and serving them in a café.

Maximus Thaler has already formed a Kickstarter page to finance his endeavor, hoping to raise $1,500 to open a café that will exclusively serve discarded food. In just one Massachusetts supermarket Thaler found a slew of trendy food including turkey meatballs, organic Greek yogurt and fair trade coffee.

“We believe food is a fundamental right, and should be shared freely with all,” Thaler’s group wrote on the café’s Kickstarter page, which will be called Gleaners Kitchen. The term ‘gleaning’ was used to describe collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they had already been commercially harvested. Today gleaning refers to the collection of food from supermarkets that would ordinarily be thrown away.

This café will go beyond simply serving recycled food, but will act as a community hub hosting concerts, poetry readings, lectures and one meal a day for the hungry. Thaler and his group dig through grocery store dumpsters and separate and wash the usable food. Juices can easily be made from the produce, and they even use hummus containers as Tupperware.

According to Thaler, “The Gleaner’s Kitchen is not a business. It is not the place of commerce you might think it to be, where you pay something to get something. Our aim is not to produce commodities but to foster community.”

For those looking to become a part of the initiative, Thaler has pledged to fly anywhere in the world, go dumpster diving and cook a meal for anyone who donates $1,500 or more to his Kickstarter page.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

World Food Waste Reaches an Alarming Rate

A new study by the United Kingdom’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that about half of all the food produced in the world, between 1.2 and 2 billion tons goes to waste every year. The UK group estimates that between 30% and 50% of this food is wasted before it even touches a plate.

According to IMechE the huge amount of food waste might be partially due to strict sell-by dates that force plenty of fresh food to be thrown out simply because law says that is has expired. Other potential causes for this food waste are poor engineering and agricultural practices, buy-one-get-one-free deals and consumer demand for exceptional food that is physically flawless.

This information brings to light the earlier prediction by the United Nations that by the end of the 21st century there could be an additional 3 billion people to feed. This added stress on our resources brings to light the current strategies we use in food production that are not efficient, and raises the need to urgent action to account for the wasted food.

IMechE’s report on food waste, Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not analyzed farming and consumption practices in the UK, Europe and United States. In the UK farmers fail to harvest up to 30% of their vegetable crops simply because they don’t meet retailers’ ideal physical appearance. In addition, up to 50% of the food purchased in Europe and the United States is thrown away by consumers.

Water is a key facet to food production, and is similarly wasted by production methods that leave so many crops uneaten. Meat consumption adds extra pressure on resources, requiring 20-50 times the amount of water to produce 1kg of meat than 1kg of vegetables. By 2050 the demand for water in food production is expected to be 2.5 to 3.5 times greater than the total human use of fresh water today.

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers estimates that with the current losses in food and water, the world can currently produce 60-100% more food by freeing up resources and fixing losses and waste.

“The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population – as well as those in hunger today. It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food”, said Tim Fox, the head of energy and environment at the IMechE.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Compost Company Aims to Create Green Cities

A startup in Washington D.C. is helping the District dispose of its trash and encouraging more sustainable farming practices. Compost Cab was started in March 2010 by Jeremy Brosowsky as a way to provide nutrient-rich compost to urban city farms. Every year Americans generate 250 million tons of garbage, of which one-third can be composted instead of sitting in landfills that generate methane and other greenhouse gases.

After meeting with urban farmers who go on compost runs to pick up food scraps from different homes and businesses mile away from each other, Brosowsky realized a compost business could make this process more efficient and help turn more city residents into composters. Now, for $32 a month, Compost Cab gives customers a collection basket with a sturdy compostable bag, to minimize smells and keep away pests. Customers can fill their bins with kitchen scraps that abide by the company’s rule, if it grows, it goes.

Compost Cab picks up the compost every week and drops the food waste off at a number of urban farms, which can now improve their soil and grow more food. Compost cab has been particularly successful at reaching a market that desperately wanted to compost but found it was too much hassle to get started. Doug Rand, a policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy wanted to compost but didn’t want to collect and store trash and drive it to a dropoff each week. Now Rand and about 350 other residential customers have been recruited as customers by Compost Cab.

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“I don’t think of it as the garbage business, I’m in the magic business. As I tell my kids, ‘I turn garbage into food.’ As composting become more mainstream, my job is to make sure that some significant piece of the stream gets captured for urban farms,” Brosowsky says.

Business is so successful in Washington that Compost Cab delivers about two tons of food waste to local farms every week. Brosowsky hopes to expand the business to six more cities in 2013, including Baltimore, Brooklyn and Chicago. Ultimately Brosowsky sees residential compost pickup as a short-term business, hoping that in the long run cities will pick up their own organic waste the same way they would pickup regular garbage or recycling. In San Francisco city trucks collect about 600 tons of compost every day, and Washington’s Sustainable DC task force is discussing how to make the city the “greenest” in the nation.

Although there are still challenges to the business model, customers have been overwhelmingly supportive of Compost Cab. Out of a 50 person trial run in University Park, Maryland, only one customer was dissatisfied with service. Similarly one of the few complaints about Compost Cab has been a demand for larger bins to compost even more. However urban farms can only handle so much food waste, and there are very few commercial composting facilities near the District. However Brosowsky is confident that Compost Cab will catch on in other cities, at least until city governments begin to compost themselves.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com