In the grocery industry, produce that is bruised or otherwise cosmetically unappealing is called excess food, and it usually ends up in landfills.
Food waste is a terrible thing, especially when there are so many people who are hungry.
Local restaurateur Danison Buan wants to do something about it.
The owner of Golphis Pizza in New Westminster is launching Refood to steer excess food away from the disposal bins to shelters, inner-city schools, and local organizations serving seniors and families in need via his own restaurant's commercial kitchen.
There, he plans on collaborating with other local chefs to concoct simple recipes to turn imperfect or ripening produce into safe, delicious fare such as smoothies that can be frozen and easily stored.
The hope is to have high school students collect the raw ingredients from participating grocery stores and markets, and distribute the resulting dishes to social service agencies.
According to Refood, more than 30 percent of fruits and vegetables in North America don’t even make it onto store shelves because they’re not pretty enough for picky consumers. More than $31 billion worth of food is wasted every year across Canada.
Buan is currently crowdfunding for the project and is seeking charities to partner with and sponsors for support.
Changes to municipal bylaws to divert organic waste from landfills via composting programs are causing many grocery stores and markets to rethink how they deal with excess food.
"Grocery stores’ compost bills are rising because of new laws," Buan says. "By reducing the amount of food that is collected for compost, it reduces their cost."
It also makes them more socially responsible.
"The food is going to a good use," he says.