Pop-up restaurant fights food insecurity with discarded produce

Canadians throw out billions of dollars worth a food a year. Now, an Edmonton food security group hopes to convince people to cook with perfectly good, not-so-pretty wasted produce.

Group will hold next event at Earth's General Store downtown on July 24

The Alder Food Security Society gets most of its produce donated by farmers' market vendors. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Castaway carrots. Abandoned apples. Rejected rhubarb.

A local group wants to make meals out of less-than-fresh fruit and vegetables to get people thinking about food waste.

The Alder Food Security Society (AFSS) plans to turn bruised and wilted veggies into gourmet meals at a pop-up restaurant downtown.

"You can really make delicious food out of things that are a little less pretty in the fridge," Carly Stanton, the society's founder, told CBC's Edmonton AM.

Every year, Canadians throw out $31 billion worth of wasted food, according to a report by consulting firm Value Chain Management International. Stanton said about half of that comes from households.

The society's goal is to raise awareness about food insecurity in Canada. An essential part of that, she said, is to make better use of the mountains of food tossed out every year.

To do so, AFSS has recruited local chefs to create meals from vegetables that would have been wasted. The food comes mainly from local farmers' market vendors, which often have less-than-ideal produce left over at the end of the day.

"They're not moldy and awful, but they might be a little less beautiful, so they can't be sold as a premium farmers' market product," Stanton said.

In the past, chefs have made everything from "salvaged soup" to panini with the donated ingredients. For the group's next event on July 24, Spencer Thompson of Toast Fine Catering and chef Israel Alveraz will create gourmet meals at Earth's General Store downtown.

Stanon said there are no health concerns with the food the Alder society serves: they have so far stuck with vegetables, and not things like cheese or meat that are a little more time-sensitive.

The group doesn't know what's on the menu for the pop-up restaurant - that will all depend on what kinds of vegetables are donated. But Stanton hopes whatever they cook up, it will make people think twice before tossing out perfectly good vegetables.

"There's nothing wrong with serving a bruised apple or serving a carrot that is a little wilty."

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