Every year, approximately one-third of food produced worldwide for human consumption — roughly 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. Lost and wasted food utilizes one-quarter of all the water used by agriculture, requires land area the size of China to grow and contributes 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. alone discards roughly sixty million tons of produce yearly and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste is the primary occupant of American landfills.
The statistics surrounding food loss can make any attempt at a remedy feel Sisyphean. Luckily, there are those within the food industry who’ve chosen to not let the challenges deter them and have instead decided to do their part in the fight against waste. Enter Salt & Straw, the Portland-based, small-batch ice cream company, that throughout the month of June will be using food waste to make their ice cream. The company’s Los Angeles locations (West Hollywood, Studio City, Arts District-DTLA, Venice and Larchmont Village) have teamed up with Food Forward, a non-profit organization that rescues local produce on the cusp of being thrown away, Three Weavers Brewing Company and Greenbar Distillery to create five bold and delicious flavors.
Whey preserved strawberries (Food Forward)
Kim and Tyler Malek, cousins and the proprietors of Salt & Straw, hope to bring awareness to the growing problem by showing that food doesn’t simply disappear once discarded. When asked what compelled them to get involved, Tyler had this to say, “The fact that we waste 40% of our food in the United States while there are families and children not getting the food they need is a horrific reality and something that all of us in the food industry need to focus on changing. This ice cream menu is our little soapbox to talk about this issue and start showing creative ways to combat this problem. We’re using excess ingredients around our cities in super unique ways, such as using spent grains from local breweries like Three Weavers, ugly farm vegetables, and leftover breads from local grocery stores.” He went on to add, “More importantly, I get to work alongside non-profits like Food Forward who are making a significant change in Los Angeles. We wanted to put these incredible agencies in the spotlight, tell their story, and see if we can get our customers and the community at large to be more aware of and supportive of these organizations and the tireless work that they’re doing.”
Salt & Straw’s June initiative not only proves that every little bit counts, it also demonstrates the great things that can happen when ingenuity is melded with awareness.
Top of the Beet (Food Forward)