One of the most exciting results of my experience writing for this paper this year - other than the supportive comments I get from readers - has been the birth of Full Bellies Food Rescue. I didn't have an opportunity to go out and do my "experiential research" for my column before Thanksgiving, so I researched an issue that has become important to me - the immoral waste of edible food in this country.
Between overzealous food regulation, lack of sustainable cuisine practices and sheer gluttony and waste in our society, the amount of edible food wasted between the 1970s and 2011 jumped dramatically. To quote my own article, a few annual statistics on edible food waste: "33 million tons of landfill waste, $165 billion worth of food, $40 billion of which comes from households, $28-$43 per person each month, $750 million to dispose of it, 4% of total U.S. oil consumption, and 25% of all freshwater used in the U.S." So that's the national picture.
Although I was unable to obtain statistical information on Eagle County edible food waste, if such statistics are even kept, I do know from my discussions with local clergy and Salvation Army volunteers that we have a food crisis in our own backyard. Children across all ethic groups are going hungry and often have no food for the weekend. Malnutrition is on the rise (right here in Vail Valley!). This has given rise to backpack programs in which children are given food for the weekends.
Now, thanks to the support of local restaurants and the positive responses from the community to my Nov. 21 article, Full Bellies Food Rescue is already saving edible food to feed the needy in our community.
I would like to thank the following restaurants and individuals for their kindness and generosity in helping to get Full Bellies up and running: Sonnenalp Resort Vail (owner Johannes Faessler, Executive Chef Steve Topple, Chef Dan D'Onofrio and Pastry Chef Bernie Oswald); Blue Plate Bistro (Adam and Elli Roustom); and Dean Johnson Property Management. All have responded to our plea. The Sebastian and Zino Ristorante have also agreed to participate when they have products to donate.
We are a blessed community, and to see the groundswell of support for this has been the greatest Christmas present I could ever hope far.
But this isn't the end all. We need to encourage our restaurants, retailers, producers and wholesalers to participate in these food rescue programs (also known as recovery, gleaning and redistribution) and to enact sustainable practices in their establishments.
Congress and the Colorado Legislature have long supported rescue by providing shields from liability (other than gross negligence), the enactment of Good Samaritan laws, prompting the growth of food rescue organizations across the country. Now, even countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and Australia have these programs. There is no excuse not to participate.
Thank you again to our rescuing restaurants and to Dan Smith and the Salvation Army for helping to see that the food goes to the entities feeding our community's needy.
Remember the tagline: "Full Bellies, Not Full Landfills."
Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a healthy, happy and prosperous 2013!