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Thursday, October 25, 2018

An Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger

On October 16, 2018, Elemental Impact (Ei) hosted the first Ei Exploration. A group of diverse, passionate industry leaders traveled from California, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to participate in the Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger in Upstate South Carolina. The empowering day was in partnership with Ei Strategic Ally Feed & Seed.

Ei Explorations bring industry leaders and experts together to strategize on solutions for challenges facing humanity and life on our planet.

A group of Ei Exploration
attendees gathers as the event begins
Since its 2010 inception, Ei has a long history of hosting educational tours, including Ei Farm Tours, Ei Industry Tours, Ei Partner Tours, and Ei Sustainable Food Court Initiative Tours. As a forerunner in zero waste practices, the prior tours were generally educational in nature related to emerging industry standards.

In 2017 Ei announced Recycling Refinement was moved to Mission Accomplished! and the new primary focus areas are Soil Health and Water Use |Toxicity.

As a first action step within the Soil Health platform, Ei hosted the Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils panel at the 2018 U.S. Composting Council (USCC) held in Atlanta. Based on attendee feedback, the panel was the most popular breakout session panel at the conference. The RiA Blog article, GAME WON: composting council conference breaks records, gives a conference overview and features the prominent panel. The panel PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei-Hosted Panels page.

The Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger was the first formal Soil Health event and a strong action step within the platform.

During her July 2018 Upstate South Carolina Farm Tours, Ei Founder Holly Elmore visited Mushroom Mountain Founder & Owner Tradd Cotter for an intriguing, inspiring two-hour meeting and tour. When Tradd explained his book, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, included a chapter dedicated to K-12 classroom curriculum, Holly knew an introduction to Ei Advisor and Captain Planet Foundation Chair Laura Turner Seydel was imminent.

With Laura enthusiastic for a SC road trip to Mushroom Mountain, the exploration orchestration began. The ONLY common date on Laura's and Tradd's busy calendars through year-end was Tuesday, October 16. Amazing, 100% of the A-list exploration attendees were available and committed to the event.

Holly explaining the group history
© 2018 Veracity Media Group 
As she welcomed attendees to the Ei Exploration at the Mushroom Mountain facility,  Holly chronicled the history of the group's intertwining relationships spanning the last decade. Going back to 2008, Holly explained she met Feed & Seed Executive Director Mike McGirr when he was Laura's personal chef. Mike joined the 2008 Celebration of Grassfed Beef Chefs' Tour of White Oak Pasture's recently opened slaughterhouse. Joel Kimmons with the Center for Disease Control also participated in the Grassfed Beef Tour coordinated by Holly and attended the Ei Exploration.

At the January 2008 Georgia Restaurant Association Local, Sustainable & Green Roundtable meeting, CREATE Program Director Jonathan Tescher spoke in his then capacity as the first Farmer Services Coordinator for Georgia Organics. The powerful meeting launched the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) where Holly served as Founder & Executive Director.

The Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), the nation's forerunner in the commercial collection of food waste for compost, launched in February 2009 within the GFA. In 2010, Ei was formed as the new home for the ZWZ. Laura served as the ZWZ Chair from its launch until the 2012 sale to the National Restaurant Association.

Over the years, Ei worked closely with then Good Earth Farms Owner Jim Lanier on establishing food waste collection for compost practices in the Charlotte market. The important work was via the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) and later the EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC Grant where Ei was a subgrantee. Additionally, Jim was invited to the Ei Exploration for his missionary work in Central and South America.

Georgia World Congress Center Authority Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined the powerful day as a member of the Ei Leadership team. When the Georgia Dome accepted the invitation to serve as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot in 2012, Tim's close working relationship with Ei began.

Laura & Kathy at Mushroom
Holly first met Ei Supporter Kathy Kellogg Johnson, Kellogg Garden Products (KGP) Chair, at the 2010 USCC Conference and later reconnected at the 2015 National Zero Waste Conference. In 2017 a lovely bond developed between Holly and Kathy within the weekly Kiss The Ground calls for "The Compost Story" video launch. Kathy presented on the previously mentioned Ei-hosted panel Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils at the 2018 USCC Conference.

At the conference, Holly introduced Kathy to then Southern Farm & Garden (SF&G) Publisher Nancy Suttles. Subsequently, the 2018 spring & summer SF&G issues featured articles on KGP's nearly 100-years old history as well as their unwavering commitment to certified-organic gardening products. Holly wrote the article on KGP's history.

The summer SF&G issue published The Story of the Bradford Watermelon on how Nat Bradford is reviving the family heirloom melon. During Holly's Upstate SC Farm Tours, Nat's name kept coming up and it was natural for him to join the exploration.

Nancy launching VMG
at Mushroom Mountain
Ei Partner Veracity Media Group (VMG) founded by Nancy as a proprietary multi-media platform officially launched at the Ei Exploration. VMG Chief Operating Officer Robert Witcher and Senior Contributing Producer Morgan Rhodes joined Nancy at the exploration to document the empowering day. Holly and Nancy connected when they were 18 years old and competitive collegiate gymnasts.

Feed & Seed Chair Mary Hipp joined the exploration and with southern hospitality provided scrumptious local pastries for the attendees to enjoy.

Following Holly's interwoven history shared by the group, each participant took several minutes to introduce themselves with a focus on their livelihood, expertise, and passions. At the end of the article, a list of attendees along with their snippet bios is included.

The Magical World of Fungi
Tradd took center stage with an awesome overview of his background, the formation of Mushroom Mountain, and the magical world of fungi. Setting the tone for his talk and tour, Tradd began with the following empowering quote:
Every morning I wake up and ask what can I do to make a difference today.
Starting as a simple laboratory in the closet of Tradd & his wife Olga's Boynton Beach apartment, Mushroom Mountain blossomed into a world-class laboratory and research facility located in Easley, SC. With over 50,000 square feet of available enclosed space for cultivation, mycoremediation, and medicinal research projects, Mushroom Mountain is exploring and pioneering innovative applications of fungi that replace toxic-based pest controls and often ineffective modern medical treatments.

Arrival at Mushroom Mountain
Fungi is one of the Six Kingdoms of Life; the other five kingdoms are Archaebacteria (oldest known living organisms; single-celled and thrive in extremely hot boiling water),  Eubacteria (single-celled bacterial organisms), Protista (single-celled organisms, such as algae and slime molds; catch-all kingdom for microscopic organisms that do not meet other kingdom criteria), Plants (multi-celled organisms who create their own food through photosynthesis) and Animals (complex, multi-celled organisms who feed upon other organisms).

Long thought closer to the Plant Kingdom, fungi are actually closer to the Animal Kingdom. Fungi are heterotrophic, meaning they do not produce their own food like plants and must obtain energy from outside sources similar to animals. Additionally, fungi breath oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. At the heart of fungi are feathery filaments called hyphae that conglomerate to form mycelium. With the exception of yeast, most fungi are multicellular.

Beyond the important fermentation properties of yeast critical for crafting bread, wine, and beer, fungi are integral to life on planet Earth. Often referred to as the internet or highway system of soils, mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. The plant provides the fungi carbohydrates (sugars) from its photosynthesis process and the fungi provide phosphorus, nitrogen, and other micronutrients to the plant roots. Truffles, chanterelles, and king boletes are edible mushroom blooms from mycorrhizal fungi.

According to the 2015 Oxford Academic article, Inter-plant communication through mycorrhizal networks mediates complex adaptive behaviour in plant communities, vast mycorrhizal networks (MN) of hyphae provide benefits well beyond the symbiotic relationship with plant roots. The following is an excerpt from the article:
These MNs are composed of continuous fungal mycelia linking two or more plants of the same or different species. The MN can thus integrate multiple plant species and multiple fungal species that interact, provide feedbacks and adapt, which comprise a complex adaptive social network. The MN is considered ecologically and evolutionarily significant because of its positive effects on the fitness of the member plants and fungi. Our understanding of this significance derives from evidence that MNs influence the survival, growth, physiology, health, competitive ability and behaviour of the plants and fungi linked in the network. How the MN affects the member plants and fungi is increasingly understood to involve plant–fungal–plant communication, and may involve biochemical signaling.
pink oyster mushroom
According to the May 2017 National Geographic article, The World's Largest Living Organism, an armillaria ostoyae fungus covering 2,385 acres of the Malheur National Forest in Oregon is the largest living organism and estimated at 2,400 to 8,650 years old. Edible honey mushrooms bloom from the fungus. Controversial, the armillaria ostoyae fungus attaches to conifer trees roots eventually killing the tree.

In his recently released Dirt to Soil, One Family's Journey into Regenerative Agriculture, Gabe Brown includes "limited disturbance" as one of his five principles of soil health. According to Gabe, "Tillage destroys soil structure. It is constantly tearing apart the "house" that nature builds to protect the living organisms in the soil that create natural soil fertility." MN are the foundation of the "house" nature builds.

At Mushroom Mountain's lab, Tradd and his team are exploring beneficial fungi properties in medicinal and agricultural realms. On a simplistic level, Mushroom Mountain offers a line of USDA Organic-Certified Mycomatrix Adaptogenic Extracts that are available in consumer-sized containers, counter dispensers for the food & beverage industry as well as in bulk for manufacturers to augment their products.

On a more complex level, targeted insects eat cordyceps fungi spores, which then attack the insect's nervous system and brain eventually killing the victim. The fungi sporulate inside of the mummified body and sprout through the exoskeleton spreading spores to the remaining colony. Species-specific, the fungi spores will only harm the targeted species. Cordyceps fungi have the potential to completely disrupt the current toxic-chemical based pesticides predominant in agriculture along with home and commercial pest control.

During the impressive lab tour, Tradd passed around a mummified insect he found with the fungi protruding through the head. Nat asked Tradd if he could help with a pesky beetle attacking one of his crops. Next spring Nat is to collect a live sample of the beetle so Tradd may develop a targeted fungi pest solution.

The group heads to the
incubation room
Mycelium is highly adaptable and may produce enzymes to destroy foreign objects that enter its network. Once it is identified, the destructive enzyme may be cultured for further use. Alternatively, the mycelium may be "trained" to produce the enzyme for purposes of destroying the targeted object or life form. Thus, fungi have a strong restoration potential, whether used as a targeted medicine for a human parasite infestation, cleaning up an oil spill or other toxic-laden areas, or breaking down petroleum-based plastics into simpler carbon molecular structures.

Highly respected, Tradd is leading discoveries and practical applications within mycology. As a Clemson graduate, Tradd often works closely with the Clemson microbiology department on his research work. The 2016 National Geographic video You Didn't Know Mushrooms Could Do All This gives an excellent overview of Tradd's impressive research and accomplishments.

From their website, the following excerpt gives a concise statement on Mushroom Mountain's intended purpose:
Mushroom Mountain is a company that focuses on the needs of the planet, developing food and systems for filtering water, creating prototypes for novel antibiotic discovery, isolating target specific myco-pesticides to replace chemical pesticides for problematic insects, and many other projects that use fungi to harmonize our coexistence with nature.
The magical world of fungi is blossoming and wizards like Tradd are harnessing the magic into practical, safe applications for the consumer, agriculture use and beyond.

Lovely Local Lunch
Feed & Seed orchestrated a lovely lunch at 1826 Bistro on the Green in Pendelton. Along with devouring the delectable food, Ei Exploration attendees enjoyed getting to know each other and discovering common synergies.

Adyson's chicken entree
© 2018 Veracity Media Group
For the lunch entre, attendees were treated to the option of Adyson Ashley's home-raised, organic chicken - what a treat! Over a year ago, eleven-year old Adyson started her chicken business with a $1500 loan from her grandparents. With the funds, Adyson purchased her first set of chicks, materials to build cages, and other equipment. The chickens are grass fed with a rotation method and supplemented with home-grown soldier fly larvae; no antibiotics or steroids are administered on the chickens.

As the business owner, Adyson dedicates time every day to raising the chicks along with processing the mature birds. Adyson's Dad helps with tasks requiring height and strength. The May 2017 Greenville News article, This 10-year-old girl is raising high quality, grass-fed premium chickens that chefs love, showcases Adyson's impressive young business.

The lunch first course was a luscious soup made with a Dutch fork pumpkin from the Bradford Watermelon Farm. Nat brought one of his Cherokee heirloom pumpkins to lunch and explained how it was different from varieties found at markets. Laura purchased the pumpkin to share the seeds with Truly Living Well, an Atlanta urban agriculture haven.

After lunch, the group traveled to the Clemson University Organic Student Research Farm to learn about Clemson's empowering contributions to solving local and world hunger challenges.

World Hunger & More

A common thread among many of the Ei Exploration attendees was a personal commitment to ending world hunger via missionary work, soil rebuilding efforts, and growing food. Nat founded Watermelons for Water where Bradford Watermelon seeds are planted in impoverished areas to provide a sweet, filtered nutritious water source. Once germinated, the watermelon plants can flourish without irrigation and filter non-potable water into clean drinking water. Proceeds from Bradford Watermelons fund the important program.

Kathy & Tradd at the
Clemson Farm
Kathy donates her time and expertise for Plant with Purpose. Several times a year, Kathy travels to Africa with Plant with Purpose and teaches indigenous tribes how to rebuild their diminished soils with compost. In general, the soils were devastated due to deforestation and left unable to support plant life. As mentioned in the History section, Jim participates in Central and South America missionary trips twice per year.

Mushroom Mountain developed Mushroom Rescue Modules in ready-to-ship, plastic boxes that are suitable for airdropping to refugee camps, natural disasters and other scenarios in need of a protein source. The boxes contain growing media, starter cultures, insect netting, and mosquito attractant. In addition to fruiting mushrooms in as little as 10 -14 days, the media can filter bacterial pathogens to minimize the risk of cholera and other water-borne pathogens.

Due to its natural exudation of octanol gas trails, the media may be used to vector mosquitos away from sleeping villagers and reduce the risk of bites from virus-carrying females. Finally, the media can be composted into a rich soil substrate to perpetuate vegetable and plant production.

The March 2017 Gleaner - Kingston article, US-Based Expert To Conduct Workshops On Growing Mushrooms, announces 'The Magic of Mushrooms' workshops hosted by The Source Farm Foundation in Johns Town, St Thomas, coordinators of the Jamaica Sustainable Farm Enterprise Programme, and was funded by USAID. At the workshops, Tradd taught how to cultivate mushrooms for consumption and how to use them for medicine, pest management, termite eradication, mosquito control, the break-down of plastic waste, and the clean-up of industrial pollution.

Mike speaking re:
Feed &Seed's imp work
© 2018 Veracity Media Group
Closer to home, Feed & Seed's Farm To Belly program teaches families how to access, grow, and prepare vegetables in new and innovative ways. Partnering with GHS Children's Hospital, recipe bags are delivered to daycares with the ingredients for a family to prepare and share a healthy meal together. Farm To Belly brings the often lost art of cooking back into the family unit. The short video, Farm & Seed + Farm To Belly, gives a solid overview of the important local program.

At the Clemson Farm, Mike welcomed the group to the farm and gave a more detailed overview of Feed & Seed work-in-progress and successes. Next Mike introduced the farm managers who shared the variety of important research and simple farming activities in-process at the organic farm.

In addition to serving as an experimental research farm, hosting training and other events, the farm grows test crops specific to the Farm To Belly recipe kits. Once vetted, the test crops are deployed to local farms for large-scale cultivation and sale into communities with food access challenges.

The farm supports a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program which is available to Clemson faculty, staff, and students and the outside community. The CSA was open for participant produce collection during the Ei Exploration program.

The Plant | Soil Connection
The final speaker for the day, Clemson Professor Stephen Kresovich, Ph.D. (Steve), Endowed Chair of Genetics in the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry and the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, brought the conversations into expanded dimensions. Steve is an active Feed & Seed Board Member.

Steve sharing on his extensive
plant genetic research
© 2018 Veracity Media Group
According to his Clemson profile, Steve's research objectives are: (1) to identify genes of the sorghum, sugar cane, and maize genomes impacting evolution, domestication or crop improvement, (2) to characterize and understand the relationship between DNA sequence variation and desirable phenotypes, (3) to characterize molecular and phenotypic diversity of sorghum, sugar cane, and maize in natural populations, landraces, and elite germplasm, and (4) to develop and test strategies to efficiently discover, conserve, and use variation in natural populations and genebank collections by integrating current advances in genomics, bioinformatics, and plant genetics/breeding.

As stated in his The Will to Lead for Clemson video, Steve's research focusses on utilizing genetic resources of agricultural crops so that better systems for production of food, feed, fiber, and energy may be developed. Steve's endowed position enables him new opportunities to lead high risk, high reward research.

A member of the Cornell faculty since 1998, Steve left his prestigious Cornell position, Vice Provost for Life Sciences, in 2009 to join the University of South Carolina as Vice President for Research and Graduate Education. In 2013, Steve accepted the endowed Clemson position where he may once again actively lead research projects.

One of the ways Steve's research tackles global hunger and nutrition is by using genetic analysis to identify strains of sorghum and other grains that produce more nutritious, higher-yield crops. In early October a short YouTube video announced a research project in this arena with Professor Bill Rooney of Texas A&M University, Steve's alma mater for his Masters in Agronomy.

Mary during the healthy
school lunch discussion
Within his talking points, Steve connected the dots between plants, soils, and global hunger issues. One of his research areas is determining what nutritional plants may thrive in food-deprived areas due to soil destruction for various reasons, including deforestation, unsustainable farming practices, and war/terrorism. The Upstate SC region is blessed with a variety of soil types and climate profiles; thus, the Upstate is an ideal location for plant and crop research that makes a global impact.

An October 11 Clemson media release, Clemson researchers optimizing pulse and cereal crops for organic production in S.C., announces a nearly $1 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The grant is to develop pulse and cereal grain crops that can be grown organically in South Carolina and to help South Carolina farmers benefit from growing these crops organically. Steve is the co-lead on the grant that begins in January 2019.

Steve's presentation points spurred a lively discussion on the importance of healthy food in schools. Mary shared the success story of phasing in healthy food at Greenville schools, starting with the younger elementary students. As the students graduated to middle school, the healthy lunch program was implemented in the middle school. Integral to the successful program was nurturing the student palette to enjoy healthy food. Feed & Seed creates channels for local produce to enter the school food procurement systems, benefiting local farm economies and providing students with fresher, nutrient-rich produce.

Nancy with the Cotter family
During Steve's session, Mushroom Mountain Owner & CEO Olga Cotter joined the group along Tradd and their beautiful daughter Heidi. The timing was perfect for Olga give her perspective on the healthy food discussion in-process.

The Ei FB album, An Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health & World Hunger, gives a pictorial recap of the empowering day. Thank you to Veracity Media Group for documenting the day with still photos and video captures.

The Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger laid the groundwork for a diverse group of industry experts and leaders to work together on crafting solutions for the many challenges facing life on planet Earth. Collective action is incredibly more powerful and effective than individual action. Stay tuned as a new chapter in healing the planet is unfolding.


Snippet Bios of Ei Exploration Attendees:

Nat Bradford – Founder of Eco Art based on the principles of creativity & stewardship to nurture holistic sustainable landscape architecture; Founder of Watermelons for Water a philanthropic cause funded by the proceeds from their watermelon harvest; maintains the breedline of the 170-year old family heirloom, the Bradford watermelon.

Tradd Cotter – Founder & Owner of Mushroom Mountain, renowned fungi expert; works closely with Clemson Microbiology Department.

Holly Elmore – Founder & CEO of Elemental Impact, a national non-profit focused on soil health; photographer and photojournalist; passionate about the soil & water microbial communities.

Mary Hipp - Feed & Seed Chair; works in the nonprofit sector as a board member, volunteer, and consultant with a focus on arts, environment, food access, and Great Danes.

Kathy Kellogg Johnson – Kellogg Garden Products Chair & Director of Sustainability; nearly 100-years strong, family-owned KGP is a leader in 100% organic gardening products, including soils, compost & beneficial insects; Kathy is happy to learn and hang with soil aficionados.

Joel Kimmons, Ph.D. – CDC Nutrition Scientist; wrote the federal foodservice guidelines for federal facilities used by the feds, states, and private industry;  created a healthy building program recognized as one of the top ten world start-ups in 2017; in 2008 -2010 brought Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Carlo Petrini, Michel Nishcan and others in the food movement to the CDC for multiple-event programs in partnership with Georgia Organics or other local groups;  grew up on an amazing regenerative farm in TN known as Moonshadow.

Stephen Kresovich, Ph.D. - Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Endowed Chair of Genetics in the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry and the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Jim Lanier – Founder of Earth Farms, a pioneer food waste composting facility in Charlotte; sold Earth Farms in 2016; knowledgeable of and passionate about soil health; participates in missionary work in Central & South America.

Mike McGirr – Founder & Executive Director of Feed & Seed; back in 2008 was Laura Turner Seydel’s private chef; leading a regenerative & food resilience movement in Upstate SC.

Morgan Rhodes – Veracity Media Group Senior Contributing Producer; an award-winning filmmaker and owner of Journey Blue Media, which provides high-end photo and video documentary tools that strengthen storytelling.

Laura Turner Seydel – Captain Planet Foundation Chair, Turner Foundation Board Member, Ted Turner’s eldest daughter, environmental activist.

Nancy Suttles - Veracity Media Group Founder & Chief Creative Officer; independent multimedia content developer and publisher; Co-Founder / Publisher of Southern Farm & Garden. Currently developing a proprietary innovative platform for an independent global media company.

Jonathan Tescher - Program Manager for CREATE, a small food and agriculture business incubator operated in partnership between Clark Atlanta University and the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; started the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market; co-founded Community Farmers Markets, an organization that manages six farmers markets across Atlanta; served as the first Farmer Services Coordinator for Georgia Organics.

Tim Trefzer -  Ei Regenerative Facilities Initiative Chair and Georgia World Congress Center Authority Director of Sustainability; interested in exploring corporate campus regenerative landscape practices, mainly for 20-acre Olympic Centennial Park.

Robert Witcher – Veracity Media Group Chief Operating Officer; expertise in logistics, business strategy, analytics, finance, and HR; recent UPS executive retiree with 44 years tenure.

Monday, October 1, 2018

From a Circular Economy to a Circular Society

Over the past five years, the circular economy moved from a concept to a buzzword to a substantial movement filled with impressive program implementation within diverse public and private sectors. In 2013, The IMPACT Blog article, A Revolutionary Evolution: moving from a linear to a circular economy, introduces the circular economy concept with the following opening:
Humanity is in the midst of a paradigm shift from a linear economy to a circular economy. The entrenched world economy is based on a linear mentality of produce, use and dispose without regard to nature's no-waste systems. A circular economy is modeled after nature's perfection where systems flow in holographic patterns; all benefit and waste is nonexistent.
The article establishes the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) at the helm of the economy's revolutionary evolution with the formation of the Circular Economy 100 (CE100), a platform to re-think the future. A recap of the inaugural CE 100 Summit in London is included in the article.

A spiral mirrors our DNA & is
indicative of perpetual life
Image from New Wave
In the 2012 Regeneration in ACTION (RiA) Blog articles, Perpetual Life Cycle System - simplicity is key and The Perpetual Spiral, the evolution from a zero waste focus to nature's no-waste systems is introduced as an Elemental Impact (Ei) platform. Below are several quotes from the articles:
In nature "waste" does not exist, rather a perpetual life cycle rearranges molecular structures so the finished product for one use is the basis for its next life. 
Remember death is always followed by birth - we are in the process of birthing a civilization where technology-based solutions mirror nature's perfect regeneration processes
With powerful global partners including Google, H&M, Nike, Philips, Unilever, and more, EMF continues at the helm of circular-economy action-oriented programs. In addition to the CE 100, EMF launched The New Plastic Economy and Make Fashion Circular programs with strong global industry leader support.

Though EMF remains at the helm of innovation within the circular economy realms, many other organizations are making a tremendous impact with their initiatives. These organizations are eager to share circular-economy successes with a global audience as well as learn from their foreign counterparts. In January 2014, the Ecologic Institute created the POCACITO project as a platform to educate and share challenges, lessons learned, and successes between European and U.S. cities. From their website:
The project Post‐Carbon Cities of Tomorrow – foresight for sustainable pathways towards liveable, affordable and prospering cities in a world context (POCACITO) is a research project funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technologial Development. The objective of the project is to facilitate the transition of EU cities to a forecasted sustainable or “post‐carbon” economic model, eventually leading to an evidence‐based EU 2050 post-carbon city roadmap.
Ecologic Institute US (EIUS) orchestrates delegations of European industry leaders on visits to select U.S. cities. Delegates represent a diverse cross-section of government stewards, activists, entrepreneurs, and non-profit executives from the European Union. For a POCACITO visit, EIUS organizes a series of meetings, tours, workshops, lectures and town hall meetings designed for interactive sharing of in-place circular-economy practices.

Atlanta Visit
A POCACITO delegation from Croatia and Munich, Germany visited Atlanta September 17 and 18 for two whirlwind days of meetings, tours, and vibrant dialogue. The Atlanta delegation consisted of four dynamic individuals:
POCACITO Atlanta delegates
from L to R: Janna, Ramon,
Vlatka and Zoran
  • Janna Jung-Irrgang, Rehab Republic Board Member from Munich, Germany. Janna specializes in creative ways to engage young adults in rethinking their behaviors and relationships to sustainability.
  • Ramon Arndt, Urban Ecologist for the City of Munich and Leader for NGO Green City, the largest environmental group in Munich. Ramon uses a holistic approach for implementing community-oriented solutions to topics ranging from waste to mobility to energy.
  • Vlatka Berlan Vlahek, Senior Associate for EU Programs and Funds, City of Ivanic-Grad, a small city in Croatia. Vlatka uses her 15 years of professional experience relevant to sustainable integrated urban development to connect local stakeholders through initiatives that grow and support a regenerative economy.
  • Zoran Kordic, Co-Founder and President of Green Energy Cooperative from Zagreb, Croatia. Zoran engages citizens in all aspects of community solar projects, including financing.

The EIUS coordinated meetings with the City of Atlanta, Office of Resilience, meetings & tours at the Lifecycle Building Center, a Rounding the Pillars of the Circular Economy roundtable hosted at Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech), and the From Circular Economy to Circular Society Town Hall Meeting held at Southface.

Beril Toktay introduces
Max Gruenig at the round table
On Monday evening, EIUS hosted a casual dinner at South City Kitchen for the POCACITO delegates. The dinner was a perfect way to welcome the delegates to Atlanta as well as share insights and perspectives on the circular economy and beyond. Ei was well represented at the dinner with Ei Founder Holly Elmore, Ei Advisory Council Member G. Boyd Leake (Community Environmental Management President), and Ei Regenerative Facilities Initiative Chair Tim Trefzer (Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Director of Sustainability) attending the lovely dinner.

The following day the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) hosted the Rounding the Pillars of the Circular Economy POCACITO Roundtable Luncheon. CSB Director Beril Toktay welcomed the delegation and introduced EIUS President Max Gruenig to the roundtable attendees. City of Atlanta Chief Resilience Officer Amol Naik gave impressive roundtable opening remarks, especially considering he is mere weeks in the position.

Michael Chang moderating the
roundtable discussion
With a casual yet impactful demeanor, Deputy Director, Brooks Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, Georgia Tech Michael Chang was a superb discussion moderator. Georgia Tech Scheller School of Business Professor Atalay Atasu joined the POCACITO delegates on the roundtable panel. In his opening remarks, Atalay thanked Holly for an introduction years earlier to EMF CEO Andrew Morlet at a profound dinner with then CSB Founding Managing Director Howard Connell.

Lunch was served in between the welcoming remarks and panel discussion. It was empowering to witness the synergies between the European and U.S. approaches to similar challenges from often different perspectives. Max gave closing remarks as the slated time came to an end.

In the afternoon, the delegation toured the impressive Lifecycle Building Center.

Town Hall Meeting
The final POCACITO Atlanta event was the From Circular Economy to Circular Society Town Hall Meeting held at the Southface event space. Ei was honored to co-host the town hall meeting.

A delectable appetizer served by
Affairs @ the reception
After an excellent reception sponsored by Ei Supporter and Pioneer Affairs to Remember Caterers (Affairs), the town hall meeting began with Holly's opening remarks. Holly introduced Tyler Rogers of local business King of Pops who gave the short-story version of their regenerative history.

In late 2016, King of Pops joined forces with CompostNOW (then Compost Wheels) for a permit-by-rule commercial food waste composting facility at their King of Crops farm. The partnership allowed CompostNOW to expand their residential food waste collection-for-compost program to foodservice operators. In addition, residential customers were permitted to add protein, dairy, and fat items to their collected food waste. The Ei FB album, Ei Connects, includes two sections on King of Crops compost & farm tours for the GWCCA and Affairs.

Next, Holly introduced Affairs Director of Communications & Sustainability Guru Travis Taylor who shared how sustainability is at the core of Affair's business model. Beyond the cost-saving benefit of their waste reduction and recycling, Affairs receives community recognition and increased revenue. Over the years, Affairs identifies over $500,000 of business generated due to their staunch sustainability practices.

Travis Taylor & Saffold Barksdale
of Affairs 
The City of Atlanta proclaimed November 11, 2014 Affairs to Remember Caterers Day in recognition of sustainability efforts, and in particular the milestone of having diverted one million pounds of recoverable materials from Georgia landfills. The RiA Blog article, ... and the journey began with a delicious divorce from the landfill, showcases the City of Atlanta Affairs to Remember Caterers Day resolution, details Affairs waste reduction and beyond sustainability successes, and substantiates the Ei | Affairs long-term, close relationship.

In her town hall panelist intros, Holly added personal anecdotes along with their formal bios for each of the panelists:

  • Janna was honored for her creative approach to engaging millennials with the example of her fun, effective beer cap recycling program.
  • Ramon visited Macon, Georgia (90 miles south) for a Creek Indian celebration during his Atlanta stay.
  • Vlatka is pursuing her Ph.D. in architecture; Holly compared the country of Croatia's population of 4.2 million to metro Atlanta's population of 6+ million. 
  • Zoran enjoyed a two-week vacation in Portland, OR with his family via a house swap prior to the POCACITO visit. 
Before the formal presentations, EIUS Fellow Brendan O'Donnell educated the crowd on EIUS and the POCACITO project. The delegate PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei Connects page with details on their respective topics.

Brendan  & Max @ the
town hall meeting
Post presentations, Max moderated the town hall discussion which ran the gamut of handling food donations and food waste, solar energy affordability, the important role urban agriculture plays in establishing local food resilience and more. Max ended the formal discussion in time for participants to enjoy Affairs' desserts and King of Pop popsicles. Conversations continued until it was time to vacate the Southface facility - a sign of an excellent, effective event!

Kudos to Max and Brendan for orchestrating a superb two-day POCACITO visit to Atlanta. The tremendous pre-visit planning resulted in successes on many levels and dimensions.

The final section in the Ei FB album, Ei Connects, includes a pictorial recap of the whirlwind day.

It was an honor the EIUS selected Atlanta for a POCACITO delegate visit. Events over the two days were perfect venues for the delegates and Atlanta hosts to share their accomplishments and benefit from each other's challenges, lessons learned, and successes.

With the European Union supporting projects like POCACITO and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation expanding their action-oriented programs, the stage is set to evolve from a circular economy to a circular society.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ei Digital Books: an integration of art and impact

In 2016 Elemental Impact (Ei) segued from a valuable media and industry resource into respected environmental journalism. A few years earlier press interview inquiries validated Ei as recognized industry media. ... and then the prominent invitation arrived in early November:
The U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
Environmental Journalism to Photojournalism
Ei Founder Holly Elmore, author of the Ei blogs, launched in June 2016 as home to the Fingertip Press, Holly Emore Images (HEI), and @ Your Service. When she publishes a blog article, Holly writes a Facebook post beginning with “PREVIEW: Hot off the Fingertip Press an article …” Thus, the Fingertip Press evolved into Holly’s nomenclature for her published articles, documents, and other written communication.

Over the years, the Ei Blogs - The IMPACT and Regeneration in ACTION (RiA), garnered strong national and global readership. On August 15, 2018 The IMPACT Blog surpassed 150,000 views and, as of this article publishing, the RiA Blog is mere hours away from the impressive 395,000 views milestone.

In late 2017 Holly expanded her communication repertoire beyond publishing articles in the Ei Blogs, trade journals, and industry papers to photojournalism in nationally distributed Southern Farm & Garden (SF&G). Rather than document Ei's important work, the SF&G articles complement and intertwine Ei PioneersStrategic Allies, and initiatives within the copy.

The recently launched Ei Digital Books are in partnership with Holly Elmore Enterprises and comprised of Fingertip Press publications supported by HEI photos. Created and published by Ei Partner Nancy Suttles, the digital books augment Ei’s profound work within the Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity platforms.

Ei Digital Books
Regenerative Agriculture Revives Soils & Local Ecosystems
As a former Georgia Department of Transportation cement-mixing site for the construction of nearby Interstate-75, Hickory Grove Farm is an iconic case study in soil rebuilding.

In the SF&G fall 2017 issue, a seven-page, multiple-article feature, An Icon in Sustainability and Hickory Grove Farm: Regenerative Agriculture Revives Soils & Local Ecosystems, gives an overview of Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) stellar sustainability commitment at the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality, The Commons (KSU’s Gold LEED-certified dining hall), and Hickory Grove Farm.

The RiA article, The Power of Tours, includes the Ei-hosted Hickory Grove Farm tour for Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer, GWCCA Grounds Operations Manager Steve Ware, and GWCCA-Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Matt Roach. The tour is featured along with a photo of Tim in the SF&G article.

Regenerative agriculture is introduced as a solution to the Earth's carbon crisis in the RiA Blog article, Beyond Sustainability: regenerative solutions. The blog article ends with a feature on the Hickory Grove Farm SF&G article.

Restoring Pollinator Populations
Over the past decades, pollinator populations declined significantly for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, habitat loss, use of the "cides" (herbicides, insecticides, pesticides), and common garden & landscape practices.

In the SF&G spring 2018 issue, a six-page feature article, Restoring Pollinator Populations, gives an overview of challenges facing pollinator populations along with tips for pollinator-friendly gardens. An HEI neighborhood flower-garden image was the spring issue wrap cover.

The RiA Blog article, Redefining WASTE: impact of common landscape & grounds maintenance practices on urban wildlife, introduces the paradox of how neat, clean yards and landscapes are wasteful to the local ecosystem. Ei Strategic Ally Park Pride's Pollinators in Parks program is featured in the blog and the SF&G articles. Park Pride Visioning Coordinator Teri Nye educated Holly on the empowering role of pollinator gardens and proofed the articles for accuracy.

Bee Swarms: Nature's Way to Grow Strong Bee Populations
Honeybee swarming is integral to colony propagation and overall bee population stabilization and growth.

In the SF&G summer 2018 issue, a two-page photo essay, Bee Swarms: Nature’s Way to Grow Strong Bee Populations, educates on the important role bee swarms play in propagating bee populations, both from the size of and the number of colonies. The images were captured in Boulder, Colorado when Holly stumbled upon a beekeeper retrieving a bee swarm from one of his hives.

With publisher and creative director Nancy Suttles on the Ei Team, opportunities abound in the publishing arena. Nancy Suttles is an independent creative consultant with over three decades of in-depth industry experience. Highly-skilled at developing original concepts, design, photography, and production, Nancy has worked with an array of publishers, corporations, and agencies over the years. Nancy creates results-driven special interest publications, magazines, books and other marketing material for traditional print and digital media.

Nancy validates the powerful Ei partnership, “I am proud to work with such an accomplished and talented professional as Holly. Her words and beautiful photos take the reader behind-the-scenes to learn more about the process of living a more regenerative life. The introduction of the new interactive Ei digital library of books will further enhance Ei's mission on an international scale.

In anticipation of a strong photojournalism focus, Holly published a series of HEI FB albums organized by various topics including urban adventures, earthly matters, feathered friends, shoreline scenes, farm fresh produce, and many more. For example, the Farm Scenes album consists of 110 images categorized by fields, buildings & structures, crops, livestock, compost, and general scenes.

Ei is integrating powerful impact and art within the Ei Digital Books and discovering new horizons for communicating initiatives under development.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction

At the 2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the educational plenary program on day three was dedicated to Feed the Planet. A World Chefs' initiative, Feed the Planet is designed to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals.

Presentations focused on the current global food waste scenario along with empowering programs committed to evolving the seemingly broken food system. After the "big picture" presentations, the focus narrowed down to local, effective initiatives and case studies on food waste reduction in culinary operations.

Holly presenting on
The Profitability of Waste
Photo courtesy of WorldChefs
The RiA Blog article, Feed the Planet: an empowering WorldChefs' initiative, gives an overview of the session presentations and introduces the WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge.

During the Feed the Planet session, Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder & CEO Holly Elmore presented on The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction. After a quick overview of the successful Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) 2009 launch in Atlanta, GA, Holly shared a recipe for food waste reduction success. In addition, Holly outlined the basics of where and why back-of-the-house food waste is generated.

Through four powerful case studies, Holly emphasized key ingredients for success with the bottom line message:
A well-run kitchen generates minimal waste!

Key Ingredients for Success
Within the UN World Food Programme presentation, Frances Simpson-Allen shared the following astonishing facts related to global food waste:
We produce enough food to feed approximately 9 billion people each year.
Of the 4 billion metric tons of food we produce each year, one third is wasted, costing the global economy nearly $750 billion annually.
1 in 9 people goes to bed hungry every night.
Beyond the environmental and humanitarian concerns, food waste is costly to the bottom line. Chefs are incentivized for pure business reasons to minimize food waste, which benefits the organization's bottom line.

Rotten strawberries
photo courtesy of
With a proven track record first with the ZWZ and later the Sustainable Food Court Initiative, Holly shared the following key ingredients for success in food waste reduction programs:
  • Collaboration – zero waste is a team sport!
  • Top management buy-in.
  • Culture – it is “what we do!”
  • Keep it simple.
  • Keen awareness.
  • Track metrics, including cost-savings.
  • Reward | recognize successes.
... and most importantly:
Take baby steps 
Lots and lots of baby steps!!!

Throughout the case studies, the above ingredients were integrated into the successful food waste reduction programs. 

In general food waste breaks down into three main categories:
  • Back-of-the-House (BOH) - food waste generated in the kitchen.
  • Front-of-the-House (FOH) - the customer is a major influence on food waste generated.
  • Excess or Wasted Food Destination - landfill, composting or animal feed are common destinations.
In alignment with the "keep it simple" and "take baby steps" ingredients, the presentation focus was on BOH food waste reduction.

BOH Food Waste Reduction
In general, BOH food waste is generated via spoiled or excess food and/or prep waste. Kitchen operations produce byproduct waste that is difficult or impossible to eliminate. An example is protein bones from cooking meats, poultry, and fish for center-of-the-plate menu items. After flavors are extracted in stocks, the bones are completely spent and destined for compost or landfill.

Chef & purveyor working together
photo courtesy of Restaurant Owner
Below are the four main BOH operating sectors, along with a key phrase for waste reduction:
  1. PurchasingClose relationships with purveyors help prevent food waste.
  2. Food Prep - Strong training & mentorship programs prevent food waste.
  3. Food Storage & Equipment - Strong training & equipment maintenance programs prevent food waste.
  4. Menu Planning - Conscious menu planning helps prevent food waste.
Specific examples of potential food waste within each of the above operating sectors are included in Holly's PPT presentation, which is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagement page.

The following are proven steps for getting started with a BOH food waste reduction program:
  • Create a baseline of the quantity of food waste generated.
  • Determine why | how food waste was generated – is the waste preventable?
  • Identify “easy-win” first steps. 
  • Develop a staged-in game plan filled with lots & lots of baby steps.
  • Set-up a metrics tracking system to quantify waste reduction and cost-savings.
  • Importantly, remember to Keep It Simple!
Case Study: Ted's Montana Grill
Stopping food waste starts with prevention.

George McKerrow & Ted Turner
photo courtesy of Ted's
Ted's Montana Grill (Ted's) Co-Founders Ted Turner and George McKerrow lead the national restaurant group's culture with a profound commitment to sustainability. As industry pioneers, Ted's launched the Green Restaurant Revolution in 2008 and joined the ZWZ as a Founding Participant in 2009.

With 45 restaurants across 16 states, Ted's food waste reduction success makes a significant dollar impact to the bottom line. At Ted's, the philosophy is to prevent food waste by purchasing top quality ingredients and cooking in small batches. The added value is amazing food, freshly prepared for happy customers!

The following are a few of Ted's small-batch cooking protocols:
  • Beef & bison are ground in-house twice per day.
  • Burgers are weighed & hand-crafted to order.
  • Fresh guacamole is made throughout the day (3 avocados per batch).
  • Cookies are baked in batches of nine cookies at a time. 
  • Roasted chickens are cooked every 30 minutes.
  • French fries are cut and fried to order.
When only three avocados are used per recipe, nine cookies are baked at a time, and French fries are cut and fried to order, potential food waste is minimized.

SUCCESS: Nationally, the average restaurant food waste is 3 - 4%; Ted's food waste is 1.89%. The absolute dollar impact of more than 1% less food waste over 45 restaurants is significant!

Case Study: Affairs to Remember Caterers
Sustainability is integral to the business model.

Known as Atlanta's greenest caterer, Affairs to Remember Caterers (Affairs) is 40 years strong with deep community and customer relationships. Affairs is one of the nation's largest privately held luxury caterers and shares their successes at many local, regional and national events.

Chef Ahmad recovering heavy cream
photo courtesy of Affairs
When they joined the ZWZ as a Founding Participant in 2009, Affairs immediately integrated sustainability into their core business model. Affairs issued an August 2009 "The Thrill is Gone" press that included the phrase "... a delicious divorce from the landfill."

At Affairs, a simple practice recovers approximately 4% of the heavy cream used annually, saving an estimated $1,000. In Affairs Executive Chef Ahmad Nourzad own words:
After emptying a carton(s) of cream, I let the carton(s) sit for about 1-2 minutes on a warm surface and then pour the remaining contents out. This yields about a pint of cream, per case. Here at Affairs, we purchase an average of 500 cases of cream per year. This practice yields a savings of approximately 20 cases per year.  
By repurposing unserved, leftover food from events, Chef Ahmad reduces waste and enhances their food. Per Ahmad, "Being a luxury catering company, we have lots of vegetables ordered for large events that are returned to us unused. We then turn these leftover vegetables into pickles, jams, and jellies and utilize those on our buffets to enhance our food."

Affairs GM Rich Wilner accepting
the City's formal resolution
Beyond the cost-saving benefit of their waste reduction and recycling, Affairs receives community recognition and increased revenue.

The City of Atlanta proclaimed November 11, 2014 "Affairs to Remember Caterers Day" in recognition of sustainability efforts, and in particular the milestone of having diverted one million pounds of recoverable materials from Georgia landfills. 

In 5 years, Affairs diverted over 1 million pounds of material from landfills!

The RiA Blog article, ... and the journey began with a delicious divorce from the landfill, showcases the City of Atlanta Affairs to Remember Caterers Day resolution, details Affairs waste reduction and beyond sustainability successes, and substantiates the Ei | Affairs long-term, close relationship.

In an industry notorious for costly high turnover, Affairs has minimal turnover, especially with the hourly staff. At Affairs, employees are served a nutritious, hearty meal daily at their kitchen. For some employees, the lunch is the main meal of the day. Affairs invests in their employees with above-industry pay, especially for hourly staff. Reward: an impressive portion of the Affairs staff boasts 30+ years of employment at the caterer.

SUCCESS: To date over $500,000 of booked business is the direct result of Affairs' impressive sustainability success.

Case Study: GWCCA | Levy Restaurants
A hospitality industry pioneer

Georgia World Congress Center
photo courtesy of GWCCA
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) opened in 1976 and over the years expanded into the fourth largest conference center in the nation. In 2009 the GWCCA hosted the ZWZ launch press conference, leading to a CNN prime-time story and a front-page New York Times article.

Following the ZWZ press conference, the GWCCA hosted the Meeting Planners International lunch for 1500 guests where Ei coordinated the luncheon presentations. Monumental: ALL food related to the lunch was consumed, donated or composted.

In 2013, the GWCCA hosted the Men's Final Four Championships at the Georgia Dome, an arena within GWCCA campus. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee (ALOC) stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." GWCCA Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer took the helm for achieving the lofty goal. Success: the comprehensive ALOC plan culminated in substantial green footprints before, during and after the games.

Upon request, post-event Tim and an EPA colleague drafted the Final Four RFP sustainability section. Thus, new industry standards were established!

Tim serves as the Chair for the 2019 Super Bowl Sustainability Committee. The 2019 Super Bowl is hosted at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, located within the GWCCA campus and operated by the Atlanta Falcons.

GWCCA Executive Team with
LEED emblem
On October 28, 2014, the GWCCA announced the 3.9 million square feet conference center was awarded LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The announcement thrust Atlanta into the national | global sustainability spotlight as home to the world's largest LEED-certified convention center AND the 14th largest LEED-certified building.

Recertifying two years early, on November 28, 2017, the GWCC was awarded LEED Gold certification, the second highest level in the rating system. In the recertification, the GWCC was thirteen points higher than the 2014 application and five points higher than the minimum requirement.

The IMPACT Blog article, Atlanta: the greenest convention, sports, and entertainment destination in the world, announces the GWCCA Gold LEED certification and details the impressive sustainability successes at the GWCCA.

Levy Restaurants (Levy), owned by Compass Group North America, is the GWCCA-contracted foodservice operator and a strong partner in food waste reduction. Specializing in premium-quality culinary services to major entertainment and sports venues, Levy operates in over 100 foodservice outlets; Levy's 2017 revenue exceeded $1.5 billion. With a powerful Atlanta presence, Levy provides foodservice for Olympic Centennial Park, Philips Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta Motor Speedway in addition to the GWCCA. Per the Levy website:

Good doesn’t quite cut it at Levy

The Compass Group Trim Trax program plays a key role in GWCCA food waste reduction. Within the program, chefs take ownership of their food cost and develop a keen awareness for potential food waste in their kitchens. Trim Trax is a measuring tool and tracts food waste at the unit level in the following categories:
Measuring food waste
with Trim Trax system
photo courtesy of Levy
  • BOH - Production Waste  
  • Premium - Over Production 
  • FOH – Production Waste 
  • Restaurant & Cafe Production
Additional details on the Trim Trax program are included in Holly's PPT presentation, which is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagement page.

Beyond Trim Trax, GWCCA Levy Executive Chef Matt Roach understands consistent staff training is key to food waste reduction. Chef Matt adheres to the following protocol to ensure minimal BOH food waste is generated at the GWCCA:
  • Clear bins help chefs to monitor waste throughout shifts.
  • New employees receive knife skills training.
  • Annually, the entire staff receives a knife skills review.
  • At the annual review, a 50# bag of onions is prepped to ensure team members are within the approved percentage of acceptable waste.
  • For repeat shows, actual food usage reports are run to develop more accurate production schedules & prevent overproduction.
SUCCESS: When Trim Trax was implemented at the GWCCA, prep food waste reduced 10% and remained consistent over the years.

Imagine the tremendous food waste and food cost reduction by implementing the Trim Trax system across Levy's 100-plus foodservice outlets. When the entire Compass Group North American empire is considered, the food waste-reduction tonnage and food cost-savings collective monetary impact is staggering!

Case Study: Arwyn Watkins
Measuring food waste minimizes food waste.

Arwyn Watkins
photo courtesy of Arwyn
In alignment with the food waste reduction success by Levy Restaurants, Arwyn Watkins, President Culinary Association of Wales, knows first hand the importance of measuring food waste generated in foodservice operations. In Arwyn's words, "I hope that in many kitchens around the world today measuring food waste is a habit and if it is not it needs to be."

Around 30 years ago, Arwyn was hired as the Executive Chef for a ferry company with ten ships and the capacity to serve 2,200 customers every 75 minutes. The food and kitchen labor costs were above acceptable standards. In his assessment of operations in-place, Arwyn discovered food waste was disposed of directly into the ocean via a mechanical system that prevented food waste measurement.

Immediately, Arwyn devised a simple, effective solution:
  • the mechanical food waste disposal systems were dismantled on the ships.
  • food-waste containers were installed on the car deck some 6 flights of stairs from the kitchen galley.
According to Arwyn, the action was taken to break old habits and get chefs to consider their actions before setting off on the challenge of 6 flights of stairs to dispose of food waste.

SUCCESS: Overnight the ferry operations experienced a reduction in food waste generated, lower labor costs incurred, less food purchased, and a significant uplift in the ships' foodservice profits. Simple solutions are often the BEST solutions!

Throughout the four case studies, the key ingredients for success in food waste reduction programs detailed above were interwoven within the respective culinary operations. 

Holly ended her empowering yet practical presentation with following phrases across two closing slides:

Bottom Line:

Well-run kitchens generate minimal food waste.

Food waste reduction makes good business sense: it improves the bottom line!


Beyond the “right thing to do,”

Food waste reduction is the “profitable thing to do,”

… and the “EASY thing to do!” 

Chef Chris Koetke during
the Feed the Planet session
Feed the Planet Committee Chair Chef Chris Koetke returned to the stage and announced the WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge, the culmination of the impressive Feed the Planet session. The Challenge tagline is:

Love Food. Hate Waste. ... Save Money.

A comprehensive Feed the Planet PPT presentation, as well as the solo The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction presentation, are available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagement page.

The Holly Elmore Images FB album, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 2018 Visit, includes a section on the 2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo along with sections on Holly's guided and self-guided KL tours.

Thank you to Ingrid Yllmark and the Electrolux sustainability team for sponsoring The Profitability of Waste presentation and making it possible for Holly to travel to Kuala Lumpur for the WorldChefs Congress.

When the key ingredients are followed, food waste reduction is infiltrated within standard kitchen operating practices. Industry pioneers with minimized food waste showcase how reducing waste is the "right thing to do," "the profitable thing to do" and the "EASY thing to do!" As stated in Holly's farewell slide:
Let's Get Started!

About The World Association of Chefs’ Societies:

Founded in 1928 in Paris, The World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WorldChefs) is a dynamic global network of over 100 chefs associations representing the spectrum of chefs across the myriad of levels and specialties. The venerable August Escoffier served as first Honorary President.

In alignment with its mission, WorldChefs creates impact within four key areas: education, networking, competition, and humanitarian & sustainability. Within the humanitarian & sustainability focus area, Feed the Planet and World Chefs Without Borders programs relieve food poverty, deliver crisis support, and promote sustainability across the globe.

Feed the Planet is a WorldChefs initiative designed to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals. In addition, Feed the Planet supports people in need through emergency relief, food poverty alleviation, and education. Founded in 2012, Feed the Planet is powered in partnership with Electrolux and AIESEC, an international, apolitical, independent and not-for-profit organization, run by students and recent graduates eager to build positive social change.