More Than a Spark of a Good Idea!

By Jean Blish Siers *

William Shakespeare wrote, What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. And yet, when we refer to perfectly edible food as “ugly produce” or “salvage,” it denigrates something that deserves a great deal more respect. That’s why a recent story in The Washington Post caught my eye: Baldor, a company that provides produce and other products to restaurants, hospitals, schools, and other commercial clients in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, has revamped its processing system to completely eliminate food waste. And to do so, they created a new word: “SparCs.”

SparCs is scraps spelled backwards (and pronounced like “sparks”), turning around how they look at the food in their system that would normal be tossed — a new word for a new model — and a new way of looking at food waste.

How does it work? According to the article, Carrot skins and tops, strawberry tops, odd-shaped pieces of watermelon and other fruit and vegetable pieces are sold at 30 cents a pound — about half their usual value — to Misfit Juicery, a D.C. company that cold-presses perfectly-edible “ugly” produce into juice. Other vegetable odds-and-ends are sold to Haven’s Kitchen, a New York restaurant and cooking school that uses them for sauces, soups, and broths. Baldor is also experimenting with other creative reuses. McQuillan says the company is dehydrating sparcs and turning them into a dried vegetable blend that he compares to bouillon. Baldor plans to make it available to its clients and retailers by the end of 2017.

Items not fit for human consumption (melon rinds, for instance) go to farms to feed chickens or pigs, or are composted and returned to the soil. Nothing – nothing! – is thrown away.

Baldor has found that the process saves them money. They’re selling parts of the produce that previously would have been thrown away. They no longer have to pay a company to haul away literally tons of produce, and pay a landfill to accept it. So it’s better for their profits and better for the environment.

It’s encouraging to see companies beginning to rework their models to eliminate food waste, and to change how we look at food. We can do this on a much smaller scale in our own kitchens as well, of course. For instance, I regularly save the trimmings off carrots, onions and celery in a bag in the freezer. When I make chicken or vegetable stock, I already have the vegetables washed and ready to toss in the pot! The last slice of bread in a package might be a bit too stale for a sandwich, but it would make great croutons or breadcrumbs. Let’s all go to our refrigerators right now and see what other SparCs we might be able to use for dinner tonight!

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.

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VOLUNTEER WAIVER

In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.