By Ken Hansen
I had read an amazing article in National Geographic Magazine’s March 2016 issue about food waste and one man’s mission to help solve hunger. It was certainly very thought provoking.
Much of the food we buy in our grocery stores looks pretty and perfect. And that’s a big problem. If I was in a position to live off of what I only grew in my garden, the last thing I would need to be concerned with is how pretty my home grown food looks. Pretty and perfect or not, it’s still edible and healthy.
Every day too much food gets thrown away because grocery stores believe you will only buy and eat pretty and perfect food that’s the right size and color. Tristram Stuart wants to change that from both sides. He wants to convince grocers and consumers that ugly is just as healthy. He is also convincing growers and restaurants and grocers to give him their ugly food and left over scraps; cut corners, too small, etc., the food they were about to throw out. He uses these foods for chefs to cook meals at huge anti-food-waste events he puts on.
If my carrot is too small, I still eat it. If my kale is a little off-green, I still eat it. If I have too many cucumbers this week, I make a smoothie. It isn’t always that easy. Having too much produce from the garden can also be a problem. I can only eat so much in so much time. I can only give away so much to friends and neighbors (sometimes I wonder if they think it’s too ugly for them to accept — ha).
As a community of gardeners, it would be nice if we had a better system to deal with excess produce. We do have one main street gardener who accepts excess produce from the other gardeners and donates it to a women’s shelter. That’s only one gardener and it isn’t all the time. It is a great gesture and a great start.
ampleharvest.org, as mentioned in the National Geographic Magazines’ article, is another great solution. Right on their home page they list the two problems they aim to help solve; gardeners harvest more then they can use, and food pantries nationwide need fresh food. The nearest ampleharvest.org pantry is “Feeding and Teaching / Venice Food Bank” at 2210 Lincoln Blvd. in Venice. They accept donations every Sunday starting at noon.
I know it can be difficult to grow just the right amount of food for yourself and your family all year every year. I encourage all who have excess produce in their gardens, or in their fridges, to please consider giving rather then wasting. And remember, that ugly looking green bell pepper you just picked from your garden still tastes great in a salad.