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Food Waste Summit (& a breakfast sandwich)

November 26, 2018

In early October, Ashley Nunez, Prepared Foods Buyer at City Market South End, traveled to the Food Tank Summit on Food Loss & Food Waste in New York City through the VFN Conference Program. City Market is now serving the follow up project to that trip - a waste reducing breakfast sandwich at their South End location. Chef Michael Clauss notes that City Market has always been aggressive about reducing food waste, but this project gave them a chance to try out some different things. The sandwich features:


  • Spent Grain Bread made by Miss Weinerz, spent grains from Zero Gravity
  • Green tomatoes from Pomykala Farms
  • Pepper seconds from Pomykala Farms
  • Green Italian frying peppers from Pitchfork Farms
  • Chorizo chicken sausage made in house from chicken scraps


There will be more details on this particular sandwich and City Market’s approach to reducing food waste in a future post. In the meantime, a quick look at the larger Food Tank Summit takeaways. . . 


Recordings of all sessions are available online. For Ashley, some highlights were: 

  • 3 panel discussions: Restaurants and Companies Fighting Food Waste, Solving On-Farm Food Loss, Improving Food Recovery. Some prominent speakers include: Elizabeth Balkan, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Katherine Miller, Vice President of Impact of the James Beard Foundation; and Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
  • Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development speaking to the necessity of engaging with food politics to change our food system.
  • Questlove (musician, author, activist) and Haile Thomas (founder and CEO of HAPPY-Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth) speaking to the need for diversity and actively engaging with communities of BIPOC to understand what they need and want from our food system to make it inclusive.
  • Sheryll Durant, New Roots Farm Coordinator of the International Rescue Committee speaking to using food as a tool for community engagement and reclaiming humanity.

You can also read more about food waste issues at the Food Tank website where they regularly publish articles on this and other sustainability topics. 


Two things that stood out as work Vermont is already doing well (in Ashley’s words):

  • Promoting Food Diversity: Dan Barber’s example of the origination of the honeynut squash was delightful to hear as I have already seen them at the co-op and farmer’s markets. Additionally, I know there are growers who take diversity into consideration when planning their crops and utilize heirloom seeds.
  • Farm-to-Table: They emphasized a great deal of close connection between farmers and chefs and others in the food system. Tobias Peggs of Square Roots Grow said early on in the program, “The farmer needs to be at the center of the [food] system, it’s the love that goes into the food that makes it taste so good.”


A question that stood out was what more Vermont might do with gleaning:

  • I know that there are currently efforts from the co-op and other groups, however I think given the number of farms we have in the region and how often food goes to waste due to lack of a consistent gleaning crew, we could definitely see continued effort around that problem especially at end of season when farmers are more focused on closing their fields and selling viable produce rather than gleaning the seconds.


One source of detailed information on the status of Vermont gleaning and potential for more is the 2016 Salvation Farms study “Food Loss in Vermont”. 


Want to learn more about combating food waste? The James Beard Foundation has started the course “Creating a Full-Use Kitchen,” which is focused on culinary professionals and particularly on culinary instructors / mentors training the next generation. It is an online program, details are here.


There’s one more recently returned Conference Program attendee we have left to hear from, Jacob Powsner of Baird Farm Maple Syrup who went to the Food Loves Tech Expo in NYC in early November - look for more from that soon. We’ve enjoyed this pilot year of the VFN Conference Program. If you are a VFN Partner Member interested in helping shape the future of this project, let us know - we’ll be reviewing the program in early January to develop our longer term vision and strategy. E-mail 

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