Supermarkets are one of the biggest perpetrators of food waste in the United States. They routinely throw out thousands of pounds of fruit and vegetables because they lose their appeal once ripened.
I’m always bringing that up with The Man because he peddles produce at a large Texas grocery store chain. He agrees with me that the waste is over the top, but his store just tosses shit out on an almost daily basis. They’ve even taken to wrapping individual items in plastic. I call bullshit on that one, and so did his coworkers and managers, so I think they’re about to end that practice. At least I hope they are.
Food waste REALLY pisses me off. I even do my best to repurpose leftovers. He’ll eat just about anything so it’s a pretty safe bet nothing’s going to waste in my house. Plus, I use all those ugly tomatoes from Dad’s garden to make pot after pot of tomato sauce and paste, which no one would ever know was from terribly unappealing tomatoes.
So imagine my surprise when I came across a new program that aims to end, or at least partially alleviate this growing problem.
Researchers from Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Cabrini College and the EPA chose to focus on saving food loss and channeling this food stream in new and efficient ways to those in hunger. See, the EPA has this wonderful program called the Food Recovery Challenge. You should check it out sometime. Very cool stuff.
As far as this specific model, culinary arts and food science students collected a ton of food waste from local supermarkets in West Philadelphia, an area with a lot of food insecure folks. They took those bruised and battered fruits and vegetables and turned them into yummy treats, like banana ice cream.
Their model, dubbed the Food System-Sensitive Methodology (FSSM), could not only feed the hungry, it could also have wonderful economic benefits by creating additional revenue and creating new jobs in the process.
If the surplus produce was purchased for a reduced price of $0.25 per pound and was processed into value-added food products such as veggie chips, jams and smoothie bases, it could then be wholesaled back to the same supermarket or other community-based retailers for $2.00 per pound. These products could then be retailed at double the price, the researchers estimate, generating more than $90,000 in monthly gross revenue, enough to support several employees at a family wage.
You can read more about it here. I’m excited about it. I hope this is something that will take off and fly.