In July, we had the pleasure of meeting some of our fellow food-waste innovators by participating in the Wast(ED): Food Education Speaker Series, a panel discussion initiated by the City of Toronto that featured local organizations exploring innovative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle food waste.
An important distinction between ZooShare and the other panelists is that we will be dealing with a different type of “waste”. As you may know, we believe that “there is no such thing as waste, only wasted resources”, and in our case, the wasted resource is rotting food (which we will turn into power for the Ontario grid). In the case of the other panelists, their resource is food itself. Thankfully, organizations like the ones summarized below are able to “rescue” food before it rots, to feed people who need it.
Food rescue (also called food recovery) is therefore the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributing it to those in need. (The recovered food is edible, but cannot be sold.)
Food Rescue organizations and food-waste recycling organizations (like ZooShare) both play an important role in reducing waste in landfills and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Take a look at the Food Recovery Hierarchy (developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) to see where each organization fits: Food Rescue (“feed hungry people”) comes first, followed eventually by biogas production (an “industrial use” to generate energy):
One of the conclusions from the panel is that food recovery organizations have to collaborate to create awareness of and reduce food waste. On that note, read on to learn more about the local Food Rescue organizations that are making a difference right here in Toronto:
Second Harvest is the largest food rescue program in Canada. Since 1985, Second Harvest has picked up surplus, donated food from manufacturers, restaurants and caterers, and has delivered it to community agencies in Toronto who feed those in need. They have rescued 100 million pounds of food from being thrown out, preventing over 50 million pounds of greenhouse gas equivalents from entering our atmosphere.1
Not Far from the Tree is Toronto’s very own fruit tree project, inspiring Torontonians to harvest, share, celebrate, and steward the bounty from our urban forest. When a homeowner can’t keep up with the abundant harvest produced by their tree, a team of volunteers is mobilized to pick their tree. The harvest is split three ways: 1/3 is offered to the homeowner, 1/3 is shared among the volunteers, and 1/3 is delivered by bicycle to local food banks, shelters, and community kitchens. It’s a win-win-win solution!
FoodShare is not a food rescue organization by definition…But their education programs may help save food in the future! FoodShare is a non-profit organization that works with communities and schools to deliver healthy food and hands-on education to teach students food skills, inspire healthy eating, and help people learn where food comes from. (Isn’t it true that if you grow your own food, you are less likely to waste it?)
YOU can be your own Food Rescue service: As we discussed in a previous blog, Canadians waste a staggering $31 billion in food every year, and as reported by Global News, “the biggest source of waste are households”.2 Below are their suggestions for making sure you’re rescuing food, too…
PS If you really wanted to get into Food Rescue to feed yourself, you could become a “freegan” (aka a “dumpster diver”). The producers of the Just Eat It documentary (which you can watch for free here) were able to eat like kings by doing the same thing…And didn’t pay a cent for groceries in 6 months!