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Food Waste in Vegetable Farming

Not many people realize the amount of food waste that is generated as a by-product of producing a fresh vegetable food product.

Photo of Kori Tuggle
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We started our #ImperfectVeg /Eco-Friendly program last year in partnership with Compass Group to support their #IDP (Imperfectly Delicious Produce) Visit Compass Groups URL

The Eco-Friendly product program (click here for product line) sells edible fresh produce items to foodservice operators that were previously discarded or rotated back into the soil due to not meeting industry standards for cosmetic attributes.

With education, the Eco-Friendly may be accepted faster by foodservice customers because the end consumer chooses off a menu description rather than at retail where they buy with their eyes.

The challenge is finding alternate ways to use this perishable but edible, usable by-product that we leave behind in the fields during the harvest process-that add up to tons of foodwaste annually.  Our two largest opportunity veg items are broccoli and romaine.  The perishability of our product makes it a difficult challenge on the food safety side of the opportunity.

Broccoli harvest leaves behind an entire plant after harvest.  Romaine leaves thousands of leaves behind in the peeling down process to get to the "perfect romaine heart."

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Since our launch of trying to capture and sell this product a year ago-- the interest level is HUGE but the sales are not. We believe people want to use this product- sell this product commercially --but how? Are there alternate uses for this product we haven't thought of? How do we educate an industry that has demanded perfect looking fresh produce for decades?

Tell us about your work experience:

I work for Church Brothers Farms: a large grower in Salinas Valley. www.churchbrothers.com

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Photo of Swapna Bellare Balsekar

Recycling the by-products or waste is a great way to be Eco-friendly! here are some ideas that are similar to yours and can assist you in ideating further. Good Luck!
VALUE CREATION FROM FOOD WASTE  
This is not Waste: the case of Brewers' Spent Grain (BSG)