peaches

A Second Chance for Homely Peaches, Part II

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By Lena Kim

Last week, I blogged about the sad plight of the Jersey peach. Each year, an estimated one million peaches in the Garden state are dumped unceremoniously into landfills, simply due to superficial blemishes or size discrepancies that prevent their sale. And this is just a drop in the bushel of what goes on throughout our country, while 14 percent of American families are struggling to put food on the table.

However, I promised a happy ending to this juicy saga, so here it goes:

The Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) brainstormed with local growers how those peaches could be salvaged. The answer? A salsa makeover! They approached Campbell Soup Company, who agreed to produce the aptly named Just Peachy Salsa with rescued peaches. Campbell suppliers agreed to donate ingredients and packaging, and Campbell’s employees donated their time, developing a recipe, canning, even labeling this unique product.

From there, the food bank sells the salsa for $2.99 per jar through the FBSJ website, local events, and starting this holiday season, area ShopRite and Wegman’s Supermarkets. Profits from the sales of Just Peachy Salsa go directly to the FBSJ, helping to feed local families struggling to put food on the table.

Let’s go over this winning trifecta again: 1) Local farmers save good products they spent time and energy to grow while also saving on waste disposal costs; 2) The amount of food waste in local landfills is reduced; 3) A local corporation is able to give back with revenues helping to feed hungry families.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. In this case, life handed the FBSJ a bunch of homely peaches… and they made salsa. Is there a lesson to be learned for the rest of us, who might not necessarily work at a food bank, farm, or food corporation? Absolutely.

The next time we see food that on first glance might appear disposable, let’s all take a closer look. That food just might be like that homely Jersey peach: edible, even delicious, yet in need of a makeover, say, a creative recipe or a different preparation.

Let’s all start rescuing America’s bounty- our Thanksgiving leftovers, our bruised or misshapen fruit, our slightly wilted veggies – from those depressingly large, ever-expanding, methane-spewing landfills. In other words, think of EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge’s rallying call: Feed people, not landfills.

About the author: Lena Kim works with EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge team. She lives in Center City Philadelphia, and frequents New Jersey orchards with friends & family. For more information about where to find the Just Peachy Salsa, click here.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

A Second Chance for Homely Peaches (Part I)

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Lena Kim

A tale of how things went from wasteful to wonderful in the Garden State

Peach-lovers living in and around New Jersey have it good, as the state ranks fourth in the nation for peach growing. We take day trips to our local orchards, baskets in arms, family members in tow, eagerly reaching for those fragrant, fuzzy orbs hanging from branches weighted down by their peachy parcels.

The one blemish on this otherwise joyous experience? That stab of guilt we feel as we carefully step over the scores of fallen, slightly bruised peaches, littering the orchard floor, as we reach for that perfect specimen, still hanging from the branch.

Our minds might wander to the fate of those countless sad, fallen fruits -“Will they be thrown away?”- yet we brush these unpleasant thoughts aside as we reach for that perfect specimen, still hanging from the branch.

And we’re right to feel guilty, because as it turns out, those fallen peaches we avoid represent a mere drop in the bushel of what ultimately gets discarded. An estimated one million – one million! – Jersey peaches are thrown into landfills each year. Not because they’re inedible, or severely bruised, but because they don’t meet size specifications or they have small blemishes that keep them from reaching our supermarket shelves. A situation that was no one’s fault, but a supply and demand issue.

The sad fact of the matter, my fellow Americans- we don’t like ugly peaches, so stores don’t stock them.

And these discarded peaches are just a miniscule fraction of the approximately 33 million tons of food waste that is tossed in landfills nationwide. And this story goes from bad to worse. Food in landfills produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas that pollutes our air, as outlined in link to FRC main page.

In this season of celebrating nature’s bounty, there exists an ironic twist of fate. While a significant portion of food dumped into landfills is healthy, edible food (think of those blemished, yet otherwise perfectly edible peaches), approximately 14 percent of American households are unsure as to where there next meal will come from.

All is not the pits, thanks to a unique partnership between the Food Bank of South Jersey, local growers and Campbell Soup Company. Unable to stomach these bruising statistics any longer, these organizations have cultivated an ingenious way to help families in need, while saving space in landfills with a deliciously homegrown product.

Stay tuned for Part II of Second Chance for Homely Peaches in an upcoming blog post, to discover the happy ending to this juicy saga of loss… and of rescue.

About the author: Lena Kim works with EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge team. She lives in Center City Philadelphia, and frequents New Jersey orchards with friends & family. For more information about where to find the Just Peachy Salsa, click here.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.