The amount of food waste is decreasing locally due to hardworking producers, proactive retailers and innovative BYU students.
BYU student Cameron Kirby wants to decrease food waste by using imperfect produce to make healthy cold-pressed juices. Kirby’s product, Eden Juice, is made from fruits and vegetables that grocers throw out merely because of their unappealing appearance. Most misshapen produce is wasted even if it is edible.
A recent study by Arizona State University researchers found that U.S. residents waste about 40 percent of their food each year. This is based on total food production in a given year, not just leftovers. That means almost half of the food ready for harvest is thrown away. Researchers estimate that this waste equates to $165 billion each year.
While multiple factors contribute to food waste, aesthetic standards contribute to the waste of good produce. Eden Juice takes the misshapen produce and creates a cold-press drink. Cold-press juicing crushes food and presses it rather than forcing food through spinning blades, which causes juices to warm up significantly. Additionally, Eden Juice’s mission is an open critique against perfectionist stereotypes similar to those purveyed by the cosmetic industry.
“We believe that these superficial imperfections aren’t flaws to be corrected but traits to be celebrated,” said Dan Blake, co-founder of Eden Juice. “And we wanted to put these differently shaped fruits and veggies to good use by making clean and healthy cold-pressed juices.”
A Kickstarter campaign for Eden Juice began on April 20, with a goal to raise $12,500 by May 20 to cover the costs of starting a cold-press plant. The goal was reached within the first 24 hours. In total, Eden Juice raised $16,200. Larger-scale production started June 1.
Lolo’s Fresh Food Warehouse in Provo combats food waste by allowing locals to pick up remaining expired produce for free. Many use the expired produce to feed animals.
“We try to throw away the least amount possible,” said Jennifer Winters, an assistant manager at Lolo’s.
Lolo’s collaborates with local churches, food banks and homeless shelters to decrease food waste. While many restaurants are forced to throw away extra produce due to legal issues, several local grocers are searching for opportunities to help others instead of waste purchased goods.
However, producers are faced with unique challenge. According to Newman Giles, owner of Eagle Eye Produce in Layton, they do all they can to decrease food waste by working more closely with restaurants. If produce is misshapen Eagle Eye sells it to restaurants to use for ingredients. It may take multiple steps, Giles said, but they find buyers for almost all their produce. Even excess pumpkins are sold, and cows eat all the leftovers.
Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Provo ensures that no food is wasted. Assistant Manager Ken Jorgensen said unsold goods go to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that has food banks nationwide. Jorgensen believes the partnership supports a noble cause.