Students and faculty from Santa Clara University are pioneering a new initiative called “No produce Left Behind,” which seeks to change how the food and agriculture business is operated. This project began by students visit numerous California farms and learning about the system as a whole, “their goal was to identify the potential of salvaging wasted fresh vegetable and fruit produce and diverting it to local food banks that need it.” Because the market standard for fresh produce is so strict and rigid, produce that does not meet the standards is left in the field to rot and then is tilled back into the soil of used a low-value animal feed. As students visited different farms, they documented by plot the amount of food wasted. This is a long complicated process that takes into account a variety of stakeholders.
One of the main hurdles of the “No Produce Left Behind” project is that “the system right now doesn’t pay for what’s left to go to the food banks. Growers would need to cover their costs in order to harvest and pack food destined for food banks.” The Food and Agribusiness Institute is taking the first step to change the system in order for food banks to receive the fresh foods they desire. This is one of many steps that will hopefully lead to a more just and sustainable food and agriculture system that seeks to serve.
To read more about the work done by Santa Clara University, visit the Santa Clara Magazine.