With estimates of over 50% of the food produced in Canada going to waste, these retailers are trying to divert imperfect, surplus food from landfills to consumer’s fridges
Food waste in Canada (and globally) has become a massive issue contributing to the growing climate crisis. Estimates range from 40-60% of food that is produced in Canada goes to waste. When produce is sent to landfill (rather than disposed of properly in a compost system), its decomposition process is disturbed and generates methane – a greenhouse gas that possesses up to 80 times more warming power than CO2. So not only could this food have been used to address the prevalent issue of food security (one in eight Canadians identify as food insecure), but it’s also accelerating global warming in a serious way (with food waste generating 6-8% of global emissions).
Unfortunately, a vast quantity of wasted food is due to nothing more than failing contemporary cosmetic standards. Straight bananas, limby carrots and bulbous potatoes will likely never meet human consumption in today’s food system. It’s estimated that approximately 40% of food is tossed simply because it does not conform to the cosmetic ideals we’ve become accustomed to seeing in grocery stores.
BUT, as you know, not all heroes wear capes, and we’ve identified some heroes in the food industry who are rescuing these not-so-cute food products and delivering them to the informed consumer who knows it’s not appearances, but flavour that really matters when it comes to cooking.
Remarkable Rejects is rescuing ugly or surplus produce from famers (local, when possible) and delivering them to the doorsteps of Torontonians.
Food Fund recovers ugly, imperfect or surplus produce from local farmers and delivers them as a subscription program to customers across south-west Ontario.
Marché SecondLife is for residents of the Montreal Metro Area. Through SecondLife, customers can curate their boxes to include “less-than-pristine produce or secondary market pantry goods” rescued by SecondLife and have the products dropped at their door or pick them up at a “pick up partner” location: such as gyms, boutiques, coffee shops.
SPUD is a grocery delivery service across Southern BC that has been operating since 1997. Their focus has always been on sustainable and/or local items, but they’ve recently added an “Imperfect Produce” section to their menu, so customers can access rescued produce while also shopping for other sustainable pantry staples.
There are also businesses rescuing surplus, imperfect or byproduct produce and connecting the dots to other businesses in the food industry such as restaurants, caterers or even back to farmers. ReCruz Produce (Vancouver), for one, is rescuing produce byproducts unused by one business in the food industry (eg. carrot plugs left over from the process of creating baby carrots) and passing them onto another (eg. a restaurant that juliennes the carrot plugs for a salad). Offbeat Produce (Vancouver) rescues off-grade produce from local farms and distributes it to charities, businesses and institutions.
Some brands are looking to play their part in reducing of food waste by upcycling ingredients and giving them new life as delicious (and sustainable!) goods, such as: Luv the Grub (Vancouver) who produces chutneys from ugly fruit; Susgrainable (Vancouver) who utilizes barley from beer production to create flour for their baking mixes; CoRISE (Calgary) who upcycles grains from local breweries and distilleries which find their way into a range of products including baked goods, cereal, snacks, etc; Wisely (Montreal) who takes leftover soy pulp from tofu manufacturing (aka. okara) to make dough for their preconstructed pizza’s; and, of course, Spent Goods! We take the spent grain from local breweries to create delicious baked goods ranging from breads, to pretzles to dough’s!