November is a time for giving thanks and feasting with family and friends. But for many facing food scarcity, that’s simply not an option. This month we are partnering with City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization that is helping to solve the dual problems of food waste and hunger in New York City.
City Harvest exists to end hunger in communities throughout New York City. They do this through food rescue and distribution, nutrition education, and creative long-term solutions like Mobile Markets for low income neighborhoods.
It All Began with Potato Skins
City Harvest’s first Executive Director, Helen verDuin Palit, had been working at a soup kitchen and saw how difficult it was to feed all the people who came in for lunch. While eating a potato skins appetizer at a nearby restaurant, she asked the chef what he did with the insides of the potatoes. When he told her that this unused portion was discarded, Helen said that the soup kitchen could really use the food that the restaurant was able to offer. The next day, the chef donated 30 gallons of cooked potatoes — which the kitchen used to thicken the soup it was serving. This quick meal out with friends led to the creation of City Harvest in December of 1982.
Nourishing New Yorkers
This year, City Harvest will rescue 59 million pounds of excess food from farms, grocers, restaurants, and manufacturers and deliver it free of charge to 500 community food programs in New York. More than half of the food is produce and 75% is nutrient dense, including fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy.
City Harvest is an inspiring example for us all this November. But what can you do in your own home right this very moment?
5 Simple ways to Fight Food Waste at Home
#1 Buy What you Need, and No More
Make a shopping list when you go to the store, including amounts of different fruits, vegetables, and other perishables you need. That way, you do not accidentally over-purchase and end up throwing out excess food.
#2 Embrace Ugly Fruits and Vegetables
That apple with a weird lump or the carrot which has an odd shape will taste just as good as a picture-perfect piece of produce. Don’t be afraid of fruits and vegetables that may look a little wonky, but instead be the one to bring that produce home, as it is more likely to be the pieces left on the shelf at the end of the day and thrown away for no reason.
#3 Learn Tips and Tricks to Keep Food Fresh Longer
The City Harvest Cookbook has lots of insider knowledge on how to make your perishables last longer. For example, the chefs at Bouley, a fine dining restaurant in NYC, share that to keep mushrooms fresher longer, keep them in “a paper bag left open at the top in the refrigerator — not sealed in a plastic bag—which causes them to soften and rot.” Bonus: each City Harvest Cookbook purchase benefits City Harvest!
#4 Advocate for Food Rescue
Do you encounter food waste in your daily life? Maybe you work in an office where the corporate cafeteria throws out lots of food at the end of the day? Or you frequent a restaurant or bakery that might have extra that they don’t sell. Encourage them to look into Food Rescue. City Harvest has a 100 lb minimum to schedule a pick-up.
#5 Learn How to Compost
Still have some excess food at the end of the day. Not a problem! Composting is a great way to help the environment, rather than sending your food to a landfill. City Harvest composts the organic waste from our Long Island City Facility.
How do you express your gratitude this November? Do you have any tips for reducing food waste? Share them with us on social media by tagging @AvocadoMattress or #AvocadoGreenMagazine.
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