The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

Sponsor Spotlight August 2019: Boston Organics

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2019 August Issue Newsletter

By Caroline Angele, Boston Organics

Editor’s note: Boston Organics has been an annual supporter of NOFA/Mass since the inception of the sponsorship program in 2010.  NOFA/Mass relies on support from dedicated supporters like Boston Organics, who know the importance of contributing to the larger cause of education and advocacy for sustainable organic agriculture in Massachusetts.  Thank you, Boston Organics!

Boston Organics has been an active and involved player in the local agricultural infrastructure in New England since 2002. We source our produce as locally as possible to support the network of growers and connect our customers to fresh, organic local produce. Our office and residential customers in the Greater Boston area know that when they support us, they are supporting a whole network of responsible growers that are using sustainable farming practices. At every step of our operations, we strive for flexibility so that we can work with the unpredictability of organic farming, are supporting other local businesses, and educating our customers about the importance of their contribution to the local food system to ultimately reduce food waste.

Boston OrganicsGrowing organically is not a perfect science. It’s not for the faint of heart to receive a carrot with three arms, or a head of lettuce larger than the size of your child. When wonky-looking produce is available, we’ll take it! Our partner farms will occasionally offer us discounts if there is a bumper crop or if they feel the sizing is off. Although it might not be obvious, the result is often a blend between “ugly” produce and "grocery quality" produce, or additional produce in our customers’ box. Because we offer our customers a variety of produce to expect each week, we have more flexibility in the contents of our boxes to adapt to the seasonal changes that farmers experience in their growing/harvesting season. You can hear from some of our farmers here.

Any excess produce that we cannot deliver gets donated to Food For Free an organization that rescues fresh food that might otherwise go to waste. Every Monday and Friday, Food For Free comes by our warehouse to pick up whatever produce that we have left over from the previous week. They distribute this leftover food to 100+ programs including food pantries, meal programs, emergency shelters, hospitals and clinics, and youth programs in the Greater Boston Area. In 2017, Food For Free distributed 2 million pounds of food that helped feed 30,000 people. 

A large part of our mission at Boston Organics is to provide better access to fresh, healthy foods. While working with Food For Free, we have been able to bridge the gap between our leftover produce and nourishing hungry people in our neighboring communities. In 2018, Boston Organics donated 31,744 pounds of produce to Food For Free.

We’re so thankful for the hard work that Food For Free and these other community programs are doing to bring healthy foods to the people in our communities who need it most. They are truly creating a more responsible and fair food system by 'bridging the gap between waste and want.'

But while some households are food insecure, others are piling on to the food waste problem. According to the NRDC, Households contribute 43% of all the US food waste - followed by restaurants (18%) and farms (16%). More often than not, individuals will throw away a whole potato when there's a small blemish or bruise. There are ways that end-consumers can be more mindful of food waste at home.

Here are some tips that we share with our customers to reduce their food waste:

  • Get creative with your cooking. Find new recipes and don't be afraid to tweak them for the produce you have! Recipes calls for 1 carrot, but you have 2? Dice up that second carrot, because some more crunch won't hurt!
  • Meal preparation. If you're having trouble cooking often and then your produce goes bad, meal prep! You can spend 1 day a week cooking up a storm so that your meals are quick and nutritious throughout the week. 
  • Be mindful of how much produce you’re buying. Be realistic in how much you can eat before produce spoils!
  • Donate to your local charity, after-school program, or organization! Boston Organics donates our excess produce to Food For Free
  • Share with your neighbors, family, or friends! Don't throw away the extra sweet potato pie you made. Share a slice with your neighbors and maybe you'll make lifelong friends!
  • Compost. When it doubt, try not to throw it out. Produce that's composted reintroduces nutrients back into the soil for bountiful future harvests. Our friends at Bootstrap Compost are a great composting service for home and offices. Boston Organics currently composts with Black Earth Compost!

Whole fruits and vegetables end up in the compost binFood waste that ends up in landfills contributes to high emission of greenhouse gases. Individual efforts to reduce food waste are just the start to combating negative climate change. Farms, retailers/distributors, and end consumers can make all of the positive changes in their own operations but long-lasting change is a collaborative effort. We all live on this Earth together; let’s start taking care of it together.

Questions? Contact Carolinea@bostonorganics.com or Marketing@bostonorganics.com 

To learn more about becoming an annual sponsor of NOFA/Mass, contact Christy Bassett at christy@nofamass.org or 978-575-4084.

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