Jess’ Post: Figuring Out Food Waste

Hello everyone!

winter2Last Saturday was my first time working for Seacoast Eat Local at the indoor market in Exeter. It was so amazing to see how many people came to collect SNAP tokens and even more amazing to see how many tokens were used by customers at the end of market. One of my favorite parts of farmers’ markets is the community of people that is created. Every individual adds something to the mix just like a veggie in a recipe! As I mentioned in my first post, I’m used to working at farmers’ markets as a vendor selling veggies so it was quite an experience to be a part of running the market itself.

As a part of my internship with S.E.L., I’m tailoring my experience to focus on food waste education at the consumer level. Throughout the next few weeks I’m hoping to share some big picture facts with you as well as some simple habits that can be practiced to reduce food waste in your home.

First things first! Food waste occurs at multiple levels including farms, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Did you know that 30-40% (roughly 133 billion pounds) of the food produced in America is either wasted or thrown away [USDA]? That equates to about “20 pounds of food per person per month” and more than 240 pounds a year [World Food Day USA]. Reducing food waste in your home is easier than it seems and can save you money, reduce your impact on the planet, and can support your community through donations [EPA].

spinachA large amount of waste occurs at the beginning: farms, but it’s not really the farmer’s fault. We live in a country where our fruits and vegetables must look as beautiful as the plastic toy food kids play with, when in reality the food is nutritious, filling, and yummy even if it has a little ding or bump on it. How many times have you been at the farmer’s market or grocery store and picked up a vegetable or fruit to make sure it’s not brown or imperfect in some way? At what point in time was this custom adopted as a sound practice in our culture? Why must food have beauty standards in our country? It is going to be cut up, smashed, or digested eventually. It is food. An imperfection doesn’t change that. This week I challenge you to buy the first fruit or vegetable you pick up. Not everyone in the world is fortunate enough to have the ability to pick the nicest apple out of the pile, and because of this ability we have, waste can become a byproduct.

Last November NPR published a story on the two filmmakers (Rustemeyer and Baldwin) of ‘Just Eat It,’ who only ate discarded food for six months. They collected over $20,000 worth of food in six months and found that date labels on food don’t really mean much in terms of when the food goes bad. In following posts I’ll go into more detail on this subject! The article ended with Rustemeyer stating that “we shouldn’t even call it food waste, because of all the connotations associated with that word. It’s surplus. It’s extra food in our system that should not be in the landfill, that needs to get to people who need it” [NPR]… Which brings me to my first project!

For the next couple of weeks I am going to ‘follow the food’ donated to the Waysmeet Cornucopia Food Pantry at the indoor farmers markets to share what really happens when you try to reduce your food waste and act with our community in mind! Follow up next week to hear more!


For more information on:

‘Just Eat It,’ and the article NPR wrote, please visit:

The Waysmeet Cornucopia Food Pantry, please visit: and

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