As part of its successful effort to divert 100 percent of the organic waste generated in its Fresh Cuts operation from landfills, northeastern produce processor and distributor Baldor Specialty Foods has forged an alliance with Hopewell, N.J.-based Brick Farm Market, a sustainable operation that takes food from farm to market to table and back to the farm in the form of compost or animal feed.
The partnership with Brick Farm Market is a component of Baldor’s food waste initiative, SparCs (the word “scraps” spelled backwards), developed by the company’s sustainability director, Thomas McQuillan. He was concerned that Baldor, which processes more than 1 million pounds of produce per week, was discarding a worrisome amount of usable food scraps. “We had to stop referring to these food products as waste,” explains McQuillan. “It’s food. Usable, nutritious and delicious food. We just needed to find ways to consume it.”
In response, SparCs program takes a multifaceted approach to organic food waste, prioritizing human consumption whenever possible. In the case of Brick Farm Market, McQuillan worked with several partners that repurpose such produce items as cantaloupe rinds and mango pits, which are unfit for human consumption, into animal feed to be used by the operation.
Other SparCs partners are Washington D.C.’s Misfit Juicery, to which Baldor sends food trim to be made into juices, and Haven’s Kitchen, a New York-based café and cooking school, which recently created a food line consisting of soups, sauces and cookies made with scraps contributed by Baldor. Any remaining organic material not used for human or animal consumption is processed with in an on-site waste-to-water system.
“We pride ourselves on being innovators and trail blazers in all facets of specialty food distribution,” said TJ Murphy, CEO of New York-based Baldor, whose roots are in the iconic Greenwich Village grocer Balducci’s. “SparCs is just the next logical manifestation of that commitment, and we’re happy to present this sustainability model for others in the industry to adopt.”
For 2017, Baldor is working on plans to offer a dried vegetable blend, or “flour,” to add nutrients to such items as soups, smoothies and baked goods.