Baldor Specialty Foods, a leading distributor of fresh produce in the Northeast, is implementing a comprehensive plan to eliminate all organic waste destined for the landfill. The initiative is anchored by a program called SparCs, which offers trim, tops and peelings from the company’s processing facility to chefs and manufacturers. Through SparCs, Baldor will challenge the industry to incorporate these usable ingredients into their operations and, ultimately, to redefine the meaning of the word “waste.”
As a processor of more than a quarter million pounds of produce per week, the company struggled to address the volume of organic matter that it regularly disposed of.
“For us,” said Thomas McQuillan, who is spearheading Baldor’s sustainability initiatives, “it is not garbage. It is not waste. We have to stop calling it waste, trim or byproduct. It is food.”
The company’s moment of inspiration came in a phone call from Adam Kaye, VP of culinary affairs at Dan Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hill.
“When Adam called about buying carrot peelings and celery tops for their WastED dinner series, we were caught off guard,” said CEO TJ Murphy. “We had not considered the value that these items might have for chefs. WastED really raised awareness about the issue of food waste and presented a creative solution: eat it.”
Baldor recently announced a partnership with Misfit Juicery, a Washington, D.C.-based company that produces cold-pressed juice from irregularly shaped and surplus fruits and vegetables in order to fight food waste. The company also is in the early stages of supplying SparCs to Marco Canora’s restaurant Brodo and has received an influx of requests from major industry players, including the fast-casual chain, Dig Inn.
To fully divert organic matter from the waste stream, the SparCs program will take a three-tiered approach, focusing first on human consumption, then on animal feed and finally anaerobic digestion. Baldor currently is collaborating with Flying Pigs Farm to develop optimally nutritious pig-feed using SparCs. The company also plans to participate in a program at Newtown Creek’s Wastewater Treatment Plant that will introduce food waste to the digester stream for the first time.
The SparCs program debuted at the New York Produce Show in December.