Literally. Some facts to consider to put things in perspective:
North American Food Waste Facts
In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions
In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is WASTED, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month
After you have digested those facts, imagine joining the largest student movement against hunger in changing the norm from food waste to food recovery and attending the National Food Recovery Network (FRN) national conference at the University of Maryland in College Park. Imagine spending two days with 450 attendees from all over the country, hearing them share their ideas about how they are fighting food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from their campuses and communities and donating it to people in need. I didn’t have to imagine it. I got to be there AND to be a presenter at the National Food Recovery Dialogue. These young people are on fire about fighting waste and feeding people and their passion was inspiring and contagious. And they are feeding the hungry in record numbers.
And now imagine hearing former show guest Ben Simon (and former ED of NFR) standing up in front of the conference participants sharing the amazing, mind-blowing success of his new venture: Imperfect Produce. Imagine how he and his partner, Ben, set out to create a solution to preventing so much good food from ending up in landfills simply because of its imperfections! And then putting their solution into action by starting Imperfect Produce. “We sell ugly fruit and vegetables,” says Ben Simon, CEO of Imperfect Produce. “Or as we like to call it, cosmetically challenged.” Ben says he knows it’s what’s on the inside that counts! Semantics aside, mountains of food go to waste each year because it’s a bit lumpy or misshapen. Meanwhile, public health officials have found that more than 14% of American households are food insecure, meaning they lack access to adequate, nutritious foods. Do you have any idea how great it felt to listen to this young man’s passion and to hear about his vision for how Imperfect Produce will grow and expand and eventually keep millions of tons of perfectly good food out of landfills and make it available to consumers at an affordable price?
The news gets better. Imagine that in April, Imperfect Produce will kick off sales of its produce in a handful of Whole Foods’Northern California stores. WHY? Well, the retail giant announced it would test out sales for the product in response to a change.org petition urging the company to jump on the ugly food bandwagon. People find their voices and change happens. Good happens.
About the “Just Eat It” Part! Try to let your imagination run flipping wild! Imagine two people who made a commitment to eating nothing but wasted food for 6 months and I mean nothing! And then imagine that they stuck to it, documented every single thing they recovered from dumpsters and grocery stores, kept track of how much it would have cost, took pictures of EVERY single thing they recovered and then made an award winning film out of it. (I mean THIRTEEN prestigious awards) Imagine Just Eat It. I was blessed to spend a great deal of time with the film’s producer Jenny Rustemeyer at the NFRD gathering and I got to see the film. Jenny is amazing, beautiful from the inside out, strong, inspirational and beyond passionate about reducing food waste. She and the film so inspired me that I am committed to spreading the word far and wide in every way I can so that we can all help to bring about much needed changes in the food waste arena including bringing Jenny and her partner, Grant AND Just Eat It to The Loft in Tucson so that my community can be as inspired as I am. I hope that those of you from across the country who read my newsletter will be inspired to act and at the very least, consider hosting a showing of the movie in your own home. Our collective small steps could make a big impact.
Here’s a brief synopsis from the Just Eat It website: Featuring interviews with TED lecturer, author and activist Tristram Stuart and acclaimed author Jonathan Bloom, Just Eat It looks at our systemic obsession with expiration dates, perfect produce and portion sizes, and reveals the core of this seemingly insignificant issue that is having devastating consequences around the globe.Just Eat It brings farmers, retailers, inspiring organizations, and consumers to the table in a cinematic story that is equal parts education and delicious entertainment.
I laughed, I cried, I cried some more and now I am sharing. Please watch the movie. Please share the movie. Please be the change.