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No Food Left Behind
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera

Celery from nose to tail. Diagram Art Olson.
Click on image to enlarge.

Our food waste is being given a second chance thanks to our Assistant City Manager, Mark Delin, who is pursuing several strategic alliances with local non-profits to extend more life and value into our food waste.

During the many months before Assembly Bill 1826 requires our businesses to recycle their organic food waste, the Assistant City Manager is advancing us closer to a goal of Zero Waste through a careful food waste recovery program. Effective as of January 1, 2016, the initial phase of AB 1826 on April 1st “requires businesses that generate eight cubic yards of organic waste per week to arrange for organic waste recycling services.” There are no businesses or multi-family dwellings in the City that yet reach this threshold; however, by January 1, 2017 many restaurants will when four cubic yards per week triggers the next phase mandate to recycle.

What is especially challenging right now for our City management is the lack of infrastructure in San Diego County to create the best value for our food waste - no communal anaerobic digester in the County. Food source reduction is the key principle advocated by our City. Knowing that San Diego County is in the top ten of counties nationwide with the highest number of food insecurity and has the highest number of organic farms in the nation, our recovery program could satisfy many needs.

Our City has partnered with the non-profit Solana Center for Environmental Innovation in Encinitas to perform Food waste audits with our businesses in the hospitality industry. The Solana Center won the Governor’s 2015 Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for its ‘Organics Marketplace’ that connects producers and consumers of organic waste. According to Jessica Toth, the Executive Director of the the Solana Center, all food materials have nutrient value - both pre and post-consumer waste. Dumping food waste in the landfill robs us of a precious resource and adds more to the destructive methane.

The Solana Center staff can assist our businesses with source reduction by evaluating operational practices and creating an in-house infrastructure that maximizes food recovery. Such simple adaptations like reducing the size of plates, eliminating decorative garnishes and capturing ‘nose to tail’ components of vegetables in recipes can additionally reduce the cost of recycling and the loss of these resources.

In addition our City is calling upon another innovative non-profit, Feeding America which will pair restaurants with non-profits in the local area for rescuing and distributing food in the North County. Sophisticated GIS mapping helps this agency identify the areas with the greatest food insecurity in North County. To maximize a recipient non-profit’s critical capacity to refrigerate food, Feeding America has grants for the purchase of the necessary refrigerator storage. Del Mar’s St. Peter’s Episcopal Church could increase its distribution within its Helping Hands program from the matchmaking services of Feeding America.

In another article I will discuss how recapturing our food will benefit our local farms and animals. In the meanwhile, let’s thank Assistant City Manager Delin for making our food too good to waste.



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