Today was the first annual Pickle Palooza hosted by The Fraser Valley Permaculture Guild. The event attractions included Canning Contest, Preserve Tasting, Preserve Swap, Seed Swap, Seed Cleaning Demo, Seed to Jar Demos, Fermentation Demo, Farm Tours and Hayrides, Pumpkin Picking and Tours all done at The Local Harvest Market in Chilliwack B.C.. F2FB Helping Harvest Food Preservation was at the event debuting their canned goods. There was pickled peppers, pickle spears, roasted pepper jelly, blueberry jam, strawberry jam, corn salsa, pepper relish, honey garlic peppered jelly, pickled veggies, and pickled garlic scapes. If you are not familiar with this group, they glean and rescue food from local farms and can it to extend the shelf life. Once the canned goods get tested to meet health standards they are donated to local food banks or sold at farmer’s markets to raise more money and awareness to keep the program running. Everything is done by dedicated volunteers who are truly making a great difference with their passion and efforts.
Food Security is a huge concern but there are answers that do not include growing more food but rather managing the amounts of food we waste. All of the produce used by F2FB Helping Harvest Food Preservation is technically garbage. By diverting from dum(b)ster to dinner table they are reducing waste and creating meals for our community’s food bank as well as raising interest about this still taboo topic.
Food gets thrown out for a number of reasons between the time it is grown to the time it gets to your dinner table. At your own home you can reduce waste by using some of the following tips:
- Buy less and shopping more frequently. This reduces the amount of items that spoil in the fridge while waiting to be used.
- Use items up before they spoil. It seems like a no brainer but far too often we leave food in the fridge past it’s prime.
- Don’t just toss it! Just because there is a little bad spot or the item is overripe don’t throw it away. Trim it, peel it, pare it down and use it up! Make smoothies, quick breads, soups, dehydrate items into chips, green powder or fruit leather. If fruit is soft make compotes or jams.
- Use up your leftovers. Send them in lunches, reheat them for meals or reimagine them for a upcycled alternative!
- If you cannot use it up now, process it. When I have too much fresh produce I process it. Chop veggies or fruit and freeze it for quick meals. Dry greens to make green powder to add to smoothies or casseroles or sauces for a vitamin packed powder. Can jams and jellies and pickles. Make fruit leather. Pre-plan ready to reheat freezer meals for busy nights.
- Make stocks to use fresh or freeze. (You can also freeze trimmings of veggies and what not to make stock at a later date!)
When you are at grocery stores buy day old, or almost expired items when they have them reduced to clear. If your grocery store does not offer these soon to be tossed items for sale, ask them if they have produce in the back they are tossing out that might be available to take home for a reduced price (or if you are lucky, for free). Some stores will say that they cannot sell these items, but that is not true. The stores are protected by the Good Samaritan Act when donating food. If a store does not sell or give away their ugly fruit, overripe, day old or soon to be expired items you could contact the managers in charge or owners to politely make inquiries. The more awareness companies have the more likely they will want to make positive changes. Being courteous and friendly go a long way when talking to anyone! The other option is of course going around to the back of stores to see if you can peek into the dumpsters. Often smaller stores have bins out back where food gets tossed. If the bins are easily accessible you could see what is worth pulling out to use. Freegans offer helpful tips for dumpster diving.
Create change with your dollars! Buy local, buy organic! How you spend your money speaks volumes!