Have you ever dumpster dived? I have; it’s pretty fun, especially if you find kale and other greens to steam for dinner. I used to live in an ecological nonprofit’s residential community and we had an agreement with a local health food and grocery store to salvage soon-to-expire and wilting food items. Why do I bring this up? Because dumpster diving is about avoiding waste.
There’s no waste in nature – everything has a purpose. When food is good, it’s eaten; if it rots, it decomposes and goes into the soil to power other living things. Humans are not often as efficient or thorough. But here’s a story that is waste-reducing, hunger-eliminating, and heart-warming.
Ben Simon, a senior at the University of Maryland College Park, saw all the food that was about to be thrown away in a campus cafeteria and asked a simple question: “Could it be donated?” The answer was yes. Food Recovery Network (FRN) was born. Simon founded FRN to collect food from college dining halls at the end of the day and donate it to hungry Americans. Perfectly fresh and nutritious food that would otherwise be thrown away. A simple and powerful service and all because Simon saw an opportunity where most of us don’t even look: college cafeteria leftovers.
Through Simon’s outreach work, FRN has spread nationally via connections with forty campuses who deliver their leftovers to nonprofits, religious organizations, and other institutions that feed the hungry. A beautiful, win-win solution. Simon’s my hero!
Image credit: moria via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution
The plant-based lifestyle is increasingly in the news. Whether it’s Al Gore announcing he’ll be vegan for life, or Kathy Stevens predicting that America will be vegan by 2050, there’s new evidence everyday that more and more of us humans are drawn to a plant-based lifestyle.
Stevens lays out four reasons for her bold prediction: Americans are eating less meat, supermarkets are carrying more vegan options; so are restaurants, and mainstream philanthropists like Bill Gates are funding vegan startups.
Oh, and Hampton Creek Foods is going to take over the world—and with a mission to make food healthy for everyone, everywhere—well, why not?
The trend is not just that people are opting for vegan choices. The trend is that vegan options are becoming the new mainstream.
As badass music producer and Really Fresh Vegan entrepreneur Mickey Davis put it, “”We want to reach anybody who likes food, not just people who think of it as vegan food.” Because vegans are foodies too, and set a high bar for flavor and quality (well some of us set a high bar for addressing climate change, lifestyle diseases, land degradation, water scarcity, and animal cruelty, but all that aside), the vegan trend is starting to catch on as cool, climate pun intended.
And the best part? The benefits are truly awesome. According to Davis, who spoke to Beyoncé and Jay-Z about vegan eating, “Even if you don’t do it the whole way, you can still see benefits.” Nuff said.
Image credit: Geoff Peters 604 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution