Love Food. Hate Waste.
If nature were to ask us to pay the bill for the amount of food wasted, there is no doubt we’d be starving. The problem with our nation’s food system is not how much we make but how much we end up throwing away. Andy Schwartz is the Produce Manager of Whole Foods Market in Savannah, GA and has a firsthand view of the monster seeds we’re planting with food waste.
Schwartz’s close attention to the copious waste via Whole Foods struck the chord that inspired his recipe for cutting food waste called Grow. Eat. Repeat. His mission-driven movement has already collected over twenty tons of waste this year. Designed to “feed the food that feeds you”, the team was created to minimize landfills on behalf of local residential and commercial food waste.
“Eating wisely is not just about choosing a carrot over a candy bar. We vote with our food dollars every day. Choosing to buy only what you need and eating, saving, donating, or composting everything that you prepare are just a few simple ways that you can save food scraps from being sent to landfills.” -Andy Schwartz, Owner and Compost Chief of Grow. Eat. Repeat.
The Grow. Eat. Repeat. team’s Saturday turned out total and complete garbage this past weekend, pun intended. The Foodie Feature experienced this (and its aroma we found strangely appealing) in person when we stopped by their work site at Savannah Victory Gardens. A group of volunteers were moving not quite mature compost onto areas of the garden that had not yet been planted.
We were immediately welcomed by an energetic volunteer, Lacey Counts, who is the co-creator of Ginger+ Olive . Her company makes environmentally safe home and body products locally, with a website dedicated to discovering new Eco hacks for sustainable living. She helps because, “Sustainability is my thing.”
There were dozens of stacks of empty buckets that once held waste they collected from their contributing partners. Schwartz collects their waste twice a week. Waste that has now been plowed under for upcoming gardens. The response from these restaurants has been so great that they have had to up-size the gallon buckets to new bigger bins. Bins are expensive and cost more than they currently have in the budget to spend. They have created a GoFundMe page for this reason. Their goal is to raise $7,500 needed to create marketing campaigns, pay for an official Compost Operator Training Course, and even fund bicycles for their burgeoning residential collection service in the works.
Residential compost is a growing market, and Schwartz hopes to see more as this organization grows with it. He has plans underway with the Forsyth Farmer’s Market and Savannah Bicycle Campaign to make dropping off and collecting residential compost part of any household’s weekly pick-up routine.
The initial proceeds collected will go towards upgrading the tiny buckets to big enough bins needed to hold the large amounts of compost they are collecting. The financial support received will “make our system more efficient,” says Schwartz.
Due to the great response they’ve already received, Grow. Eat. Repeat. is expecting to collect at least 120 tons in the next month. There is a world of potential at their fingertips thanks to the 500 tons that could potentially fit at their current work site at Savannah Victory Gardens. There is currently a five year lease reserved at SVG for Grow. Eat. Repeat.
to use for proactive agricultural purposes.
You can help too. Purchasing a “Feed the Food that Feeds You” T-shirt is a great way to show support for local composting. All proceeds help in their continued effort to provide cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable food waste options. Visit their website to purchase a custom-designed shirt for $18.