Challenge activity — Week 5

Shopping for “Less than Perfect” produce and learning about Compost – Nature’s green bin!

Introduction

We are well into the second half of our six-week Challenge and hopefully we’ve all got some new healthier habits in practice that are reducing the amount of avoidable food waste in our green bins. 

Now it’s time to push our comfort levels around buying “ugly” produce, in the hopes of helping to reduce food loss at the retail market level. 

Why is this important? According to Love Food Hate Waste Canada, of the 2.2 million tonnes  of edible food Canadians waste each year, nearly 50 percent is fruits and vegetables. With the increasing conversations about the merit of more plant-based diets, we are disproportionately wasting the food which is healthiest both for people and planet. 

Also this week, we’ll explore the “next steps” in the life of our household food waste, whether it’s picked up at the curb or we close the loop ourselves with resources to try composting at home.

Challenge Ambassador

Sunday Harrison

Green Thumbs Growing Kids

Sunday Harrison

The Challenge

Rationale

Expanding our comfort zones allows us to save more and waste less, while reconsidering our North American culture of accepting waste as part of “the cost of doing business” mindset. 

Objectives

  • Rescue potential store produce waste 
  •  Learn about where your green bin waste goes
  •  Explore household composting options

Tips

Push your boundaries – redefine what “good”, edible produce looks like

Instructions

  •  Shop for less than perfect produce, look for bruises, scratches, irregular shapes, both within the regular produce and on “reduced” or “imperfect” shelves
  • Read the City of Toronto resources on the after-life of green bin waste once its picked up from your curb 
  • Explore resources to learn about household composting options – both indoors and out!

Find resources below.

Graphic by Love Food Hate Waste showing the sources of avoidable food waste in Canada.

What are the sources of avoidable food waste?

Click or press the graphic to enlarge.

Source: Love Food Hate Waste.
Shared with permission.

Challenge Ambassadors

Sunday Harrison

This week, our ambassador is Sunday Harrison, the founder and Executive Director of Green Thumbs Growing Kids, a community-based non-profit organization based in the downtown east neighbourhoods of Regent Park, Cabbagetown and St. Jamestown, which primarily provides programs for students to raise food on their school grounds and create simple recipes with it. 

Attend the free “Soils Alive” virtual workshop coming in March to learn why and how to bring your soils to life, indoors and outdoors (register here).

Check out GreenThumbsTO.org and @greenthumbsto to learn more!

YouTube video

In conversation

Sunday is interviewed by Erin Andrews, Founder & Executive Director of Impact Zero (impactzero.ca). You can also watch the video on Youtube and Instagram.

Resources

Tips from the Queen of Green

Extending the Life of your Produce

Recalling your storage tips from last week — here are some additional reminders from the ‘Queen of Green‘ blog at the David Suzuki Foundation.

  • Don’t leave produce in plastic bags — let it breathe.
  • Wait with washing the produce until you intend to use it. Wet veggies will start decomposing and grow mould much faster.
  • Leave the stems on. Ripping off the stems produces a wound where bacteria and mould can start to grow.
  • Prioritize whatever is likely to go bad first. While berries typically last only a few days, potatoes can last a month or more if stored in a cool place.
  • Fruit too hard to eat? Quicken the ripening process by putting it in a paper bag with a banana.

Waste handling in Toronto

What Happens to Your Organics?

In Toronto, organic waste you throw in your green bin is fed into ‘methane digesters’ — giant composters that capture methane produced by decomposing matter. This biogas is then purified into renewable natural gas that can be used to power the city’s fleet of garbage trucks! Methane digesters enable Toronto to ‘close the loop’, where organic waste is continuously recycled into new food and (nearly) carbon-free energy.

Find out more at the City of Toronto:

Closing the loop. Graphic by the City of Toronto.

Drawdown Solution #28

Methane Digesters

The 28th most powerful global solution that can help us reach drawdown, capturing emissions from organics while producing renewable energy.

Regenerative Agriculture

Kiss the Ground

From the creators of the 2020 documentary, learn about the magic of composting — the solution that can rejuvenate depleted soil, prevent GHG emissions and secure our future food supplies.

Watch Kiss the Ground on Netflix and other platforms.

Watch the trailer.

Join the movement.

YouTube video

Drawdown Solution #57

Composting

The 57th most powerful solution that can help us reach drawdown. Composting prevents methane emissions and enriches soils.

Vermicomposting 101: Creating a Simple Worm Bin

Watch and learn how to create and maintain a simple worm bin at home. Worms are the superstarrs of composting, turning organic waste into new, nutritious soil.

Watch Vermicomposting 101 on Youtube

Learn more at homesteadandchill.com

Composting with Worms

WE-SOLATION Global Worming: Composting with worms with Sophi Robertson

A practical guide to creating a worm bin, taking you step-by-step through the whole process.

Watch Composting with Worms

Reflection questions

After shopping for “imperfect” produce and learning more about how to close the loop on your food waste,share your thoughts in the Community Feed below.

  1. Were you comfortable buying “less than perfect” produce this week? 
  1. How did you feel about what the City of Toronto is doing with our organic household waste?
  1. Were the composting resources informative and inviting enough to try some type of composting at home?

Kids and families

YouTube video

Highfields Center for Composting presents an animated teaching guide for starting a compost program in your school. In this brief video, students will learn about compost, the importance of closing the loop on their food system and how to separate food scraps effectively.

Community Feed

A space for participants to share experiences, photos & questions about the Food Waste Challenge!

How to use the feed

The feed is public, but only participants can contribute.

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