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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Atlanta Wasted Food Heroes in National Spotlight

Elizabeth smelling ripe
fruit ready for harvest
Atlanta's wasted food crusaders receive a national spotlight in a November Whole Living feature article, Spoil Alert, by renowned nature | science writer Elizabeth Royte.  In addition to one of four feature articles, editor-in-chief Alanna Stang dedicates an entire paragraph to Spoil Alert in her Editor's Letter.

In June Elizabeth traveled to Atlanta for a whirlwind two-day interview marathon hosted by Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore. The ZWA Blog post, Atlanta's Focus on Food Waste Reduction, is an overview of the visit along with interesting anecdotes from the local wasted food warriors.  For a pictorial recount, visit the Ei FB album, 06-12 Elizabeth Royte ATL Visit.

A talented journalist, Elizabeth crafts an excellent highlight of the local heroes who put Atlanta on the map as a national leader in food waste reduction.  Intertwined within the hero mini-profiles is an abundance of the staggering facts at the foundation of our nation throwing out 40% of our food, most of it perfectly edible. Creative solutions are also included such as "In Australia, Hong Kong and Saudia Arabia, there are reports of eating establishments that actually levy modest fines on diners who leave food on their plates."

Humor is interjected within the copy via her descriptions of Holly's attire - "with her flouncy skirts and jaunty hats in matching sorbet colors", driving style - "careening across town", industry connections - "the Kevin Bacon of wasted food," professional operating mode - "I create things. It never occurs to me to do any research. I'm a Scorpio" and energy level - "and her energy level slightly exhausting."

Spoil Alert magnifies the diversity of effort necessary to create an efficient effective food system, where wasted food is eliminated and food waste is the inedible by-product of food processing and cooking.  Integral to system development is the equitable distribution of food to the entire population spectrum.

Robby among his beloved
urban fruit bearing trees
First on the interview circuit, Robby Astrove, a volunteer with Concrete Jungle - a grass roots urban foraging organization, understands the abundance of food growing in our urban environment. Known for its in-town "greenscape" Atlanta is plentiful with fruit bearing trees whose bounty is now harvested  by Concrete Jungle.  Once cleaned the fruit is delivered to local shelters. Since 2009, more than 5 tons of fruit has been harvested and delivered to those who rarely enjoy fresh, seasonal fruit.

A volunteer with Second Helpings, Myron Smith used his business acumen to create a donation program for delicious, nutritious food from farmers markets, grocery stores, festivals and foodservice operators previously landfill bound. In team spirit, Myron works in collaboration with the Atlanta Community Food Bank to ensure their complementary services maximize community benefit.

Foodservice is the second largest industry in the nation and a tremendous generator of wasted food. Charter Zero Waste Zones Participants, Affairs to Remember and Fifth Group Restaurants shared their experiences as pioneers in food waste collection for composting. With zero waste practices firmly in place, Patrick Cuccaro, ATR general manager, and Steve Simon, FGR partner, focus on taking their sustainability focus to new dimensions. 

Steve Simon on Ecco's rooftop
ATR Executive Chef Ahmad Nourzad uses his eagle eye to minimize waste in the production process while Patrick educates the sales team on how to sell menus that minimize waste.  When opening their latest restaurant Lure, Steve installed an innovative rainwater system that also collects air conditioning condensate water for use in the restaurant's toilets.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority is honored in the article as the Zero Waste Zones 2009 launch pad. 

Ei pals Johnathan Bloom,  American Wasteland author, and Dana Gunders of the National Resource Defense Council received strong mention in the article.  Note Dana is the author of the NRDC Issue Paper, Wasted: How America is losing up to 40% of its food from farm to fork to landfill, released in August this year. Dana's concise two-page December, 2011 Food Fact Sheet, Your Scraps Add Up: Reducing food waste can save money and resources, was the catalyst for the ZWA Blog post, Reduce First, Donate Second, Compost Third, the second all-time most popular post on the blog.

Elizabeth interviewing Paula of
Heirloom Gardens
A common theme throughout the article is ALL effort is important where wasted food is concerned, no matter the size.  Myron puts it succinctly "For someone who is hungry, nothing is too small."  Paula Guilbeau of Heirloom Gardens, one of the farmers who works closely with Myron, visited a shelter where her unsold produce is delivered.  It was a powerful experience for Paula, who summarizes her role as "I know I'm just one person helping, but I do believe in the power of one."

This blog post is a mere snippet of Elizabeth's powerful article. Use your voice to support action on our nation's wasted food addiction by purchasing the magazine.  Whole Living is widely distributed wherever magazines are sold and will be on the racks until early November.

Consider writing Elizabeth on her blog and submitting editorial comments to Whole Living in support of the article.  Editors and publishers will print more articles on wasted food when they understand it sells magazines and promotes reader dialogue.

Thank you Elizabeth for taking the time to meet Atlanta's heroes and shining a bright light on their superlative work. It seems you survived the two-days in Holly's 18 year old red convertible careening around Atlanta without too many scars.  Know many will be surprised to learn Holly owns a car!

1 comment:

  1. continues to garner national media attention for pioneering work, especially in the food waste arena.