Productive Gleaning with Feeding the 5K

September was a big month for raising awareness of the serious problem of global food waste.  I am still energized by a picture-perfect Fall day with Tristram Stuart and other Feeding the 5K ( http://www.feeding5k.org/ ) volunteers in mid-September.  Working with a small team at Donaldson Farm in northern New Jersey, we were able to efficiently glean a large quantity of very high quality fresh produce items such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, and watermelon — crops that would otherwise have gone to waste — and put them to good use feeding people.  The gleaned produce was quickly transported to New York City where it was turned into delicious food for many at Feeding the 5K’s Disco Soup NYC event ( http://f5k.tumblr.com/post/61198709766/disco-soup-nyc-yes-we-cut ).  The event, one of many that Feeding the 5K organizes to spread awareness of the magnitude and impact of global food waste, shows the benefits of partnering to capture and redistribute excess food.  In this case, a generous farmer was able to reduce work and costs associated with the disposal of excess unsaleable food items — highly nutritious food that is perfectly edible but contains minor blemishes or size irregularities.  In addition, the environment benefited as large quantities of food were consumed rather than being left to decompose and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.  Last, many people were positively impacted — both in terms of receiving high quality calories and through their participation in the event (a feeling of making a positive contribution to others).  Creative genes were also stretched at the Disco Soup event as many individuals participated in constructing creative appetizers and soup from the gleaned food, and many left with a heightened sense of the need to change personal behavior to reduce food waste.  Overall, these events show the positive impact of taking action to reduce food waste and optimize resource usage. 169

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