Okanagan chefs are asking us to do more to combat food waste as we think about how we can make use of the large amounts of unsold produce that is routinely discarded on local farms.
Chef Ned Bell has long been vocal about using local ingredients in his restaurants at the Naramata Inn. Buy BC’s new “Chef Ambassador”.
Bell was recently traveling in the Southern Interior and noticed a lot of local produce piled up near local farms. This led Bell to connect with some of the farmers he worked with to dig into the issue.
“It was just my concern and it made me think that if this is in this small community, this must be happening everywhere,” he said.
According to the BC government, About 40% of our produce ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and produces large amounts of greenhouse gases.
Farmers can run into a variety of problems, Bell said, including more food being produced than they can sell, being removed as part of composting schemes, and lacking economic options for farmers to donate. pointed out that there is a .
“What that really told me was that we need to eat more of these seasonal vegetables that we grow. We support farms and families, or multiple farms and multiple families and multiple communities.”
local motivation — South Okanagan Organic Grocery Venture — Owner and farmer Thomas Tumbach said he can support the local food system by focusing on buying from local producers.
“As a farmer, you are always trying to create your own market. In fact, it’s a common problem for farmers to have more than they can sell, and it’s not necessarily a sign that the farmer isn’t doing a good job,’ he said.
“If there is a lot of excess waste, that is a problem that farmers want to avoid because if they are overproducing a lot, they are losing money and they are already paying to grow that crop. They tended the crops, paid for seeds and fertilizers, and occupied space on the farm.”
Farmers may try to donate to food banks and organizations that help provide fresh produce to those in need, but the system isn’t set up for easy transportation.
“Farms don’t have time. “It’s a crop they’re already losing money on. They don’t want to spend more money to part with it. It will be useful as part of the strategy.”
Research at Simon Fraser University Released in 2021found that food waste on farms can be combated with better policies to help farmers face their daily challenges.
The team conducted 40 interviews with farmers and stakeholders in the food and agriculture industry to identify economic and environmental reasons for overproduction, infrastructure gaps, rejection of production due to finer aesthetic values, and farm-level losses. I found the problem.
“The solution to reducing food loss on Canadian farms lies in philanthropic efforts such as promoting food collection (Nikkel et al., 2019) and tax incentives for donations (Kinach et al., 2019). Kinach et al. observed a perception discrepancy between policy makers and the reality faced by farmers expected to donate. It felt that the 25% tax credit given did not offset the logistical costs of donating surplus food. Resources/Conservation/Recyclingreadings containing citations to previous papers.
Since 2019, the Department of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has contributed more than $26 million to poverty reduction and food security projects across BC. food bank BC For perishable food collection programs.
However, it is important to connect farmers to the program in a way that does not increase costs.
Tumbach points to a Toronto organization that regularly travels through the Greater Toronto area, working with various grocery stores, restaurants and farms. Pick up donated unused and unsold food and make it fully edible at the grocery store.
Referenced by Bell Quest Food Exchange Program A non-profit food collection and redistribution organization in Vancouver that provides healthy, affordable groceries to members of the Lower Mainland.
Okanagan utilizes food mesh programs, fruit tree projects, and harvesting organizations, which are poorly translated into support for farmers.
“Farmers want to distribute their product in half the time, but sometimes the challenge is who will come and pick it up, because these farms are sometimes remote,” says Bell. I got
“How do we get where we need to be? …ideas [is] There’s transportation, or some program or system that’s willing to take it, or perhaps a central drop-off, or some kind of community kitchen that could use this product and repurpose it for something else.
And if farmers want the opportunity to utilize their products in a different way, that could be where Summerland’s next big project comes into play.
was suggested Southern Okanagan’s ‘Food Hub’ We provide spaces that can connect food and agritech entrepreneurs to resources, including active shared production spaces for wet products such as salsas and condiments, and drying spaces for fruit snacks and other products.
“Across the Okanagan and Similkameen regions, there is a lack of processing facilities for small-scale food processing. We have many farms in our region and they also produce fruits,” said Brad Dollevoet. I’m here. Summerland area.
“Food Hub is a concept that gives producers access to commercial production spaces – kitchens and commercial processing facilities. We can help,” said Tumbach, in support of the concept.
One of the environmental benefits the district has included in its application is the utilization of fruit that would otherwise have been culled for juice, jam, or jelly rather than sending it to landfills or organic processing facilities.
The project has been in the works for over eight years, and now the business plan has been approved by the City Council, securing land and building partner Garnet Valley Ranch.
“It all boils down to a detailed plan that we are currently providing to our funding agencies. It’s become one just like the one,” explained Dolboet.
“There is a lot of interest in this… we have over nine local companies in our area who actually want to fund this project. It seems not.
“Their contributions alone cannot move us forward, but it shows the level of commitment that there is demand for this kind of facility from the business community.”
The Department of Agriculture and Food said B.C. is committed to a goal of halving food waste by 2030. Several ministries are involved in efforts to reduce the food waste problem and enhance food security in the state.
In the meantime, there is an urgent need to support local, seasonal produce, as well as choosing what is always in stock in the aisles of big grocery stores.
Bell said he knew the issue wasn’t black and white, and that other factors, such as accessibility and financial situation, would influence what people buy, but everyone knew that local By trying to make the selection a little more often, the impact.
“Can we look to and support better local producers across our region? Whether it’s the BuyBC logo or the local butcher, we need to look a little further,” he said.
“I think food is broken.
“Whether you live in Summerland, Naramata, Cowichan Valley or Abbotsford, celebrate our place. It doesn’t mean you stop, it just means you get 5% better.”