It can be tempting to think of food waste as a black and white issue: either eat it or throw it away. However, while we’d love for all food to get eaten, there are still many shades of grey that come between a hungry mouth and a compost bin. A Hierarchy of Food Uses can give us ideas about how to save food from going to waste, from source to compost bin.
We’re all familiar with food pyramids—turns out you can think of food waste as a pyramid too! Most important at the top is the idea of reduction. Don’t tempt food waste; simply prevent an excess of unwanted food to begin with. Save Seattle’s Apples attempts to address this goal by preventing moths and maggots from spoiling otherwise perfectly healthy (and delicious) apples. By reducing the number of pesty apples, we reduce the amount of potential food waste in Seattle.
One bad apple doesn’t ruin the bunch though—a little pest damage doesn’t mean that an apple should land in the compost bin! Apples with pest damage are still a perfectly good food source and can be used to feed people—we just have to get a little creative.
After receiving input from food banks a couple years back that not all of the fruit we were donating was able to be used due to pest damage, City Fruit has been working on finding creative ways to put this produce to good use. We have added two cider presses to our collection and press hundreds of pounds of apples every fall at multiple community events throughout the city. These events have been a great way for us to show that, even if the fruit may not look beautiful, it can still taste delicious!
Finally, once apples have been pressed and cider is flowing, those juiceless scraps are still a viable food source! Though no longer fit for human consumption, chickens will gobble those apple remains right up. More often than not, apple scraps from City Fruit’s cider events go to community members’ chickens, once again diverting Seattle’s apples from becoming waste.
Of course, we can’t stop every single apple from falling through the cracks, and it’s important to make sure that those last apples wind up in the compost and not the trash. Keeping organic matter in our community is better than sending it to an incinerator!
By checking in at each level of the food waste hierarchy, City Fruit has been trying to save Seattle’s apples, stopping them from becoming waste. It takes a lot of creativity and community support though, so please keep the juices flowing and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more ideas of how to reduce waste and Save Seattle’s Apples!