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Posts Tagged ‘food waste’

Photo: Toast Ale 
Toast Ale brews its commercial ales with surplus bread at a brewery in Yorkshire. It also pairs up local breweries and bakeries to help them tackle food waste in their own communities.

I have never been a beer drinker, but I have to give a thumbs-up to Toast Ale in the UK because it’s trying to reduce food waste through an unusual brewing process.

Carolyn Beeler of PRI’s The World has the story. “It’s a Wednesday night in central London and the trendy Temple Brew House pub is packed with people out for after-work beers and burgers. A crowd in one corner is sipping intently from half-pint tasting glasses, savoring a beer they helped brew about a month earlier using an unusual ingredient: leftover bread. …

“The beer was brewed at the pub’s tiny in-house brewery in collaboration with Toast Ale, a British craft beer company that uses waste bread to make beer on a commercial scale.

“ ‘In the UK, 44 percent of all bread is wasted,’ says Toast Ale’s chief brand and finance officer Louisa Ziane. ‘So we take surplus bread from bakeries and sandwich makers, and we replace a third of the barley that would otherwise have been used to brew, upcycling bread that would have otherwise been wasted.’ …

“Once the company starts turning a profit, it plans to donate those profits to Feedback, a charity that fights against food waste and shares a founder, Tristram Stuart, with the beer brand. (The company says it’s been able to make donations to Feedback already through its local collaborations.) …

“Around the world, about one-third of the food that’s produced ends up going to waste. That’s a big problem for the world’s hungry, but it’s also a big contributor to climate change: Producing that food emits as much greenhouse gases as many individual countries. …

“ ‘There are bakeries up and down the country who are left with surplus bread at the end of the day, and there are also over 2,000 breweries in the UK,’ Ziane says, so Toast is playing matchmaker with these local bakeries and breweries. …

Toast says it works with bakeries to make sure they’ve exhausted the options to get bread to people who would eat it before agreeing to turn it into beer. …

“Michael Mulcahy, who helped stir up that mash with a red plastic shovel, says, ‘It takes it away from being a hippie environmentalist thing,’ Mulcahy says. ‘It’s the pub. It’s the guys at the bar drinking beer, it’s football and baseball.’

Toast’s beer recipe is online for home-brewers to try, and the company has franchised or licensed its brand in South Africa, Brazil and Iceland. Last year they expanded to the New York City area.” More here.

My husband once tried home brewing, but it was a lot of work, and the beer that resulted didn’t taste as good as the beers he could buy. Still, if someone is into home brewing, the Toast recipe could be fun to try.

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In Massachusetts, large facilities are complying with a food-waste ban, creating many green jobs and boosting economic activity.

EcoRi News reports, “The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently issued a report which found that the state’s commercial food waste ban has created more than 900 jobs and stimulated $175 million in economic activity during its first two years.

“Implemented in 2014, the nation’s first food scrap and organics ban requires any commercial organization that disposes of a ton or more of food scrap a week to pull it out of the waste stream and reuse it, send it for composting or animal feed operations, or use it in an anaerobic digestion facility that produces renewable energy.

“The report, conducted by ICF International Inc. of Cambridge, assessed the economic development benefits of food-waste-reduction initiatives. The 25-page report compared jobs and economic activity among food-waste haulers; composting, anaerobic digestion and animal feed operations; and food-rescue organizations before and after the Oct. 1, 2014 implementation of the ban. The ban creates jobs by driving a market for alternatives to disposing of food waste in Dumpsters, according to the report.

“The report also shows that food-waste haulers and processors, as well as food-rescue organizations, employ 500 people directly, while supporting more than 900 jobs when accounting for indirect and induced effects. These sectors generate more than $46 million of labor income and $175 million in economic activity. …

“About 1,700 facilities, including restaurants, hotels and conference centers, universities, supermarkets and food processors, are covered under the ban.” More here.

Meanwhile, the more of us who convert our own food scraps to compost for our yards, our friends’ yards, or community gardens, the better for the envionment. “One and one and 50 make a million,” after all.

Photo: Green Fingers
Converting food scraps to compost instead of putting them in the trash. In Massachusetts, large facilities are complying with a food-waste ban. Individual efforts add up, too.

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Photo: Daily Table
Fresh surplus food is sold for less, with help from a distribution platform called Spoiler Alert.

A logistics company that moves unwanted, unneeded but perfectly fresh food to people who do want and need it has chosen the perfect Internet slang for its name: Spoiler Alert. Ordinarily, “spoiler alert” is what you say if you are recommending or reviewing a film or book and don’t want to spoil the ending for someone else. In this case, it’s about delivering fresh food where it’s needed before it spoils.

Janelle Nanos writes at the Boston Globe, “Spoiled food is a costly problem, accounting for about $218 billion in financial losses to US farms, businesses, and consumers each year, according to ReFED, a group of companies, nonprofits, and foundations that was formed last year to minimize food waste. Since its launch in 2015, Spoiler Alert’s food-matching platform has been adopted by 200 businesses and nonprofits in New England to cut down on waste and encourage donations by making them easier to track.

“The company was created by two MIT Sloan School of Management graduates, Ricky Ashenfelter and Emily Malina, and their chief technology officer, Marty Sirkin, and has worked its way through the city’s accelerator programs, winning $50,000 from MassChallenge in 2015 and a spot in this year’s Techstars Boston cohort. …

” ‘At Daily Table I like to think of Spoiler Alert as an opportunity to further meet our mission of capturing healthy, tasty products before they make it to compost or trash,’ said Ismail Samad, executive chef of the Dorchester grocery store, which sells food and prepared meals gleaned from donations. He said he relies heavily on Spoiler Alert to source the food for his store shelves.

“But part of Spoiler Alert’s recent success can be credited to another, rather wonky aspect of its platform, which helps companies navigate the tax code. [In December 2015], Congress passed a bill that expanded the tax breaks companies can receive for donating food, making it easier for small businesses to donate and for farmers to assess the fair market value of their inventories.” Read how it all comes together, here.

A nonprofit organization that is also a MassChallenge winner and does similar work in the region is Lovin’ Spoonfuls, which I blogged about here. MassChallenge is a startup accelerator that helps new companies get launched. Its judges are partial to companies that can do well by doing good, bless their hearts.

Photo: Lovin’ Spoonfuls
Lovin’ Spoonfuls donates food to Safe Haven, a housing program run by the Bedford (MA) Veterans Administration.

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I’ve been encouraged to see an increased focus on keeping food from going to waste when so many people are hungry.

In the Boston area, for example, Spoiler Alert and 2012 Mass Challenge winner Lovin’ Spoonfuls are just two of several local organizations moving leftovers and surplus to places they can be used. And how about Daily Table, which makes delicious prepared meals from surplus ingredients and sells the meals at low prices?

Meanwhile, in France, action is taking place on a national scale.

Writes NewCo Shift, “Back in 2014, the third largest supermarket chain in France, Intermarché, launched their memorable ‘Inglorious’ fruits and vegetables campaign. To help reduce ‘cosmetic’ food waste, Intermarché sold scarred, disfigured and odd-shaped fruits and vegetables for 30 per cent less than ‘normal-looking’ produce. On the back of their playful marketing and waste-conscious campaign, many supermarkets all over the world followed suit and wonky veg has been the unlikely pin-up of food waste ever since.

“[France was] the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them to donate to food banks and charities instead. The law was a result of a grassroots campaign launched by councillor, Arash Derambarsh. After his petition gained more than 200,000 signatures and celebrity support in just four months, he managed to persuade French MP’s to adopt the regulation, which is now being copied in different parts of the world. Since the ban has been in place, over 300,000 tonnes of food has been saved from landfill and redistributed to France’s three networks of food banks. …

“Let’s not forget France’s most shimmering, sequin-laden, food-saving exports: Disco Soupe! Disco Soupe (or disco soup) has captured the imagination of the world, proving to be one of the most fun events out there, while reducing food waste. Strangers collide, music spins, food is saved from the clutches of the bin, chopped to the beat and eaten with rhythm.”

More at NewCo. If you like this topic, you can also subscribe to Zero Waste Weekly here. Do you tweet? You might like to follow the entertaining @UglyFruitAndVeg. Send your whimsical pictures of produce to those folks and join the fun.

Photo: Shift.NewCo.co

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I was thinking about “evaporative cooling” as I got out of the shower this morning and shivered.

In summer’s heat it’s nice how the evaporation of water on your skin cools you down, but in winter, the process is not so welcome.

Still, the principle is something that innovators in hot climates think about a lot, applying it to keeping produce cool so it lasts longer.

Stephanie Buglione, at Nourishing the Planet, has a story on this concept. She focuses on a nonprofit group called Practical Action and how it is using something called zeer pots to reduce food waste.

She explains, “Practical Action, a nongovernmental organization that works with farmers in Southern Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, encourages the use of earthenware refrigerators called zeer pots to help prevent post-harvest food waste. The pot-in-pot refrigerator design keeps fruits and vegetables cool by harnessing the principle of evaporative cooling. These pots can extend the shelf life of harvested crops by up to 20 days by reducing storage temperature.

“The design consists of a large outer pot and a smaller inner pot, both made from locally available clay. Wet sand is added between the two pots and is kept moist. Evaporation of the liquid in the sand draws heat out of the inner pot, in which food can be stored. …

“Zeer pots can provide flexibility for farmers by enabling them to store crops and sell in response to market demand, which can translate into greater income. Extended shelf life also translates into longer-term food sources for farmers and their families. Ultimately, this inexpensive and low-tech system can help farmers and low-income households save food and prevent waste.” More.

Sometimes the best technology is the simplest.

Photo: Noor Khamis/Reuters
Nairobi, Kenya. Many Africans are challenged to keep their fruits and vegetables fresh if they lack electricity for refrigeration. Zeer pots are a low-tech solution that uses the principle of evaporative cooling.

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