Renowned nature | science writer Elizabeth Royte is passionate about respectful treatment of food including waste reduction, delivering unsalable yet delicious food to the hungry population, and composting of the no longer edible residuals. As part of her research on food waste reduction, Elizabeth visited Atlanta to learn about the diverse and innovative systems in place.
Home of the ZWZ, Elemental Impact hosted Elizabeth's Atlanta visit and orchestrated a series of interviews with a wide range of individuals who spearhead the City's leadership role. It was thrilling to hear tales of how these individuals | organizations commit themselves to a cause that benefits ALL concerned, including the corporate bottom line.
Patrick Cuccaro, Affairs to Remember general manager and ZWZ champion, articulated the underlying commitment with perfection: Food waste reduction and donation programs are a unique opportunity where one's spiritual convictions align with corporate responsibility. Note the preceding is a paraphrase of Patrick's comment.
Once cleaned and inspected, the fruit is donated to local shelters as a treat to those who usually only eat second-hand food. Besides the nutritional value, the fruit hand-picked for these individuals is a step towards restoring dignity, the basis for rebuilding stolen lives. The ZWA Blog post, The Many Faces of Zero Waste, gives an overview of Concrete Jungle's impressive urban foraging mission.
|Ecco Chefs Craig Richards &
Casey Wise, Ecco's garden stewards
|Farmer D & Elizabeth in
garden area behind his store
As a volunteer, Myron Smith coordinates Second Helping's food donation and collection program. A quiet, astute business man, Myron determined where quality food was slipping through current systems and ending up in landfills or compost windrows, rather than hungry bellies. Local farmers markets were a ripe venue. At market close, farmers generally have a portion of their bounty unsold that they are happy to donate to Second Helpings.
|Myron & Elizabeth by Second
It takes ingenuity and tenacity to find the hidden food within current programs and determine how to collect and deliver the food in an effective, safe manner. By finding shelters located close to markets, Myron's system mirrors a trip to the grocery store where the store is the market and the home is a shelter. Food quality and safety is maintained without coolers or refrigeration.
|Chef Ahmad, Patrick, Elizabeth &
Ei founder Holly Elmore
photo courtesy of ATR
Chef Ahmad keeps an eagle eye on hidden waste in the ATR kitchen. A prime example is the discovery that a pint of cream remains in a case of poured, cold quart containers. If the poured case sets out for a few minutes, the remaining cream loosens from the container side and easily pours. Over the past year, the equivalent cream savings is approximately five gallons. It is amazing to realize the waste reduction possible by simple, acute observation.
|GWCC food residuals
awaiting transport for composting
Completely polystyrene-free, the GWCC first replaced polystyrene foodservice ware in the employee cafeteria with compostable products. Next the GWCC upgraded the cafeteria to reusable plates and flatware eliminating a significant amount of product leaving the campus for composting. To understand the integrity of a facility's sustainability commitment, learn their practices at behind-the-scene operations such as the employee cafeteria. Kudos to GWCC | Levy Restaurants for your sustainability integrity!
Elizabeth's whirlwind two-day Atlanta visit was an excellent opportunity to highlight the many dimensions of the City's food waste reduction efforts. For pictorial details on the interview marathon, see the Ei FB album, 06-12 Elizabeth Royte ATL Visit.