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Produce distributor Baldor will cut out organic waste

Dec. 16, 2015
Baldor Specialty Foods, a leading Northeast distributor of fresh produce, announced that it will implement a plan to eliminate all organic waste destined for the landfill.

Baldor Specialty Foods, a leading Northeast distributor of fresh produce, announced that it will implement a plan to eliminate all organic waste destined for the landfill.

The initiative is anchored by a program called SparCs, which offers trim, tops, and peelings from the company’s processing facility to chefs and manufacturers. Through SparCs, the company will challenge the industry to incorporate these usable ingredients into their operations—and, ultimately, to redefine the meaning of the word “waste”.

As a processor of more than a quarter million pounds of produce per week, the company struggled to address the volume of organic matter that it regularly disposed of.

“For us,” said Thomas McQuillan, who is spearheading Baldor’s sustainability initiatives, “it is not garbage. It is not waste. We have to stop calling it waste, trim, or byproduct. It is food.”

The company’s moment of inspiration came in a phone call from Adam Kaye, vice-president of culinary affairs at Dan Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hill.

“When Adam called about buying carrot peelings and celery tops for their WastED dinner series, we were caught off guard,” said T J Murphy, chief executive officer. “We had not considered the value that these items might have for chefs. WastED really raised awareness about the issue of food waste and presented a creative solution: eat it.”

Baldor recently announced a partnership with MISFIT Juicery, a Washington DC-based company that produces cold-pressed juice from irregularly shaped and surplus fruits and vegetables in order to fight food waste. The company is also in the early stages of supplying SparCs to Marco Canora’s restaurant Brodo and has received requests from industry players including the fast casual chain Dig Inn.

To fully divert organic matter from the waste stream, the SparCs program will take a three-tiered approach, focusing first on human consumption, then on animal feed, and finally anaerobic digestion. Baldor is collaborating with Flying Pigs Farm to develop optimally nutritious pig feed using SparCs. The company also plans to participate in a program at Newton Creek’s wastewater treatment plant that will introduce food waste to the digester stream for the first time.

The SparCs program debuted at the New York Produce Show recently. This preview is part of an installation called “The Future Market,” produced by Mike Lee of Studio Industries, that will forecast emerging trends, technologies, and innovation in the grocery industry.

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