By Hannah Alpert, CSA Young Professionals
I don’t love the phrase “kill two birds with one stone” (why does it have to sound so harsh?!), but one of my favorite things to do is fill two needs with one deed. Whether it’s talking on the phone to an old friend while driving to work, walking to the store to get some exercise and pick up groceries for dinner, or writing get-out-the-vote postcards with my mom, I’m all about it. So when I learned about the opportunity to pick up extra food from grocery stores and the Mountain View farmer’s market (reduce food waste) and bring it to the CSA food pantry (help those in need), I knew I wanted in.
Food waste is both a local problem and global problem. On an individual level, throwing out food is a waste of money — money that could be utilized elsewhere. On a larger scale, food waste is the single largest category of any material to be placed in landfills. In the landfill, wasted food rots and produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is a major contributor to climate change.
There are plenty of things all of us can do to help reduce food waste in our own kitchens. Some ideas include: 1) grocery shopping more frequently and in smaller quantities because you tend to have a better idea of what you’ll need in the next couple of days rather than the next few weeks, 2) getting creative with leftovers, 3) paying attention to packaging and storing food correctly, and 4) using products like bluapple pods, which keeps fruit from going bad.
There are also several companies that strive to reduce the amount of food wasted both by grocery stores and restaurants. Afresh helps grocery stores figure out how much food to buy so that they don’t have to throw out any food. I’ve had fun using TooGoodToGo, an app where restaurants and stores sell extra food they have at the end of the day for a steep discount instead of having to throw it out. Divert takes leftover produce from grocery stores and composts it into both a fertilizer used to grow more produce as well as a source of renewable energy that then powers the farms.
CSA provides many benefits to the Mountain View and Los Altos community, but it is also helping tackle a climate problem that produces over 10% of greenhouse gasses annually. Picking up food from Trader Joe’s and the farmer’s market, food that may otherwise be thrown out because it is nearing its sell-by date or cannot easily fit in the stockroom, helps stores and farms reduce their carbon footprint. At the same time, bringing the food to CSA to offer to clients at the food pantry provides families in our local community with high-quality, nutritious food, at no cost. As CSA both helps our planet and feeds our community, it may be more appropriate to say that they “feed two birds with one scone.”