On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Thomas McQuillan, Vice President of Strategy, Culture, and Sustainability at Baldor Specialty Foods, talks about how to change the course of food waste. “We had to change the narrative around what we thought about this food because when we call something waste, you’re probably not so inclined to eat it,” says McQuillan. “It’s about educating ourselves around the idea of trying to create a solution for the food[…] and then being creative to put it to use in a nutritious and delicious way.”
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At Baldor, McQuillan strove to reverse the narrative of food waste and scraps with a new program—SparCs. Within a year of starting the program, McQuillan eliminated food waste from the distributor’s facility, repurposing nutritious parts of produce for soups, broths, sauces, and even livestock feed. “It’s really exciting that we can create a 360–system,” says McQuillan.
According to McQuillan, SparCs serves as a revolutionary template for other corporations to reduce food waste on-site—and beyond. “There are hundreds of solutions that exist out there for companies,” says McQuillan. “And the most important part of this is that it begins to change the culture of the company. The employees start looking at every asset differently[…] and then we bring that home with us,” says McQuillan.
“We all need to get to the point where we never co-mingle food with our regular garbage again. We should always consider our garbage pail sacrosanct and not a place to put any food whatsoever. This will go a long way to solving a number of issues in our environment,” says McQuillan. Food that consumers and producers usually waste, according to McQuillan, is a future asset for not only environmental health, but community health: a supply for nutrient-rich soil and people.
Directing food to soil is one of the ways McQuillan urges consumers to support local farmers. “We need to work together as a community to capture that food, not see it as a hassle, but see it as a future asset. We need that valuable soil to integrate into future farms and in our property,” says McQuillan. And, Baldor aims to support farmers by helping consumers purchase their misshapen or odd-looking produce, which normally dives directly into food waste without leaving the farm. “In many instances, 30 percent of what the farmers are growing is left on the land or sent out for composting: I see a huge opportunity there,” says McQuillan.
Photo courtesy of Thomas McQuillan