Excess apples, aging vegetables and stale bread were transformed into yummy recipes that had people cleaning their plates at Feed 500 on Friday.
The event to teach Red Deerians how they can reduce food waste at home and was hosted by Kerry Wood Nature Centre with the help of Red Deer Food Bank, Rethink Red Deer, Alberta Health Services, the City of Red Deer, local grocery stores, producers, and others.
Ada and Nat Grossman both enjoyed the saucy meatballs made from surplus bison from local shops.
“It was all very good and we learned a lot about older vegetables. I usually just throw them in soups. But here frying it up like that is really good,” Ada said about the potato and vegetable dish Potatoes O’Brien that was served.
And the recipes are easy to prepare, she said about the apples, butter, cinnamon and cubes of old bread used to make the Apple Brown Betty dished up at the outdoor lunch event at Rotary Recreation Park.
According to organizers, over 60 per cent of food that is wasted could have been eaten, and all that waste is the result of people buying too much, cooking too much and not storing food properly.
“When you really think about the waste, it is sad,” Ada said.
The free meal was created by chefs at the food bank to show people what they could do with food that may otherwise be thrown in the garbage or composter.
Mitch Thomson, food bank executive director, said 405,000 kilograms of food is diverted from the landfill annually through the food bank’s grocery store program.
“At the food bank, we’re a zero-waste facility. We have not composted anything in over 14 months, and anything that can’t be fed to humans goes to animals,” Thomson said.
Kathryn Huedepohl, program lead at Kerry Wood Nature Centre, said the food bank did a delicious job intercepting food that was still safe to eat but could have ended up at the landfill.
“A big part of reducing food waste is getting people to realize that food doesn’t have to be pretty to be edible. It can be a little ugly. It can have a little spot. You can cut that part out. The rest is still edible,” Huedepohl said.
She said people can teach themselves about food safety, use apps like Flashfood to access discounted food at local stores, and find plenty of online recipes to use up every scrap of food.
For more information on reducing food waste visit lovefoodhatewaste.ca.
Support for Feed 500 came from Rethink Red Deer’s Climate Leadership Lab, and the Community Environmental Action Grant.