NYC Hosts First Food Waste Fair for Exploding Food Waste Innovation, Revealing Challenges

New York is a good place to start if you’re looking to tackle food waste. The same population density that makes it heaven for delivery startups also means that food waste — possibly from those deliveries — is ripe for the taking.

Food waste issues are coming into the mainstream as investors and municipalities realize that there is money to be saved and made in keeping food out of the landfill, and this week the New York City Sanitation Department held the first ever NYC Food Waste Fair in Brooklyn to bring together city officials, chefs, investors, and food waste startups to do just that.

Startups focused on food waste have raised over $250 million in the last three years, according to AgFunder data. There was a slight increase to $133.7 million in 2016 compared to 2015, when they raised around $100 million, according to AgFunder’s 2016 AgTech Investing Report. The technologies that raised funding included e-commerce platforms like Full Harvest, that aim to reduce food waste by selling unwanted but perfectly edible produce. Waste repurposing and shelf-life enhancement technologies also made up part of that figure.

Read the full story at www.AgFunderNews.com.

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Bloomfield’s White Gold Butchers Wows on Upper West Side

If you’re wondering why the corner of 78th and Amsterdam smells like chicken fat, you have April Bloomfield to thank. The Upper West Side can now join the growing list of neighborhoods able to claim its own serious butcher shop: White Gold Butchers.

How did these New Yorkers hit the jackpot? One of Bloomfield’s partners in the venture, butcher Erika Nakamura, just happened to go to high school around the corner from the shop and she still lives close. When she, Bloomfield, restaurateur Ken Friedman and fellow butcher Jocelyn Guest were looking to set up a retail butchers shop and restaurant combo, the Upper West Side fit the bill.

“We wanted to go where there was a sense of community and yet that still needed something like this,” said Bloomfield. The trio wanted to serve people who really cook, and early indications are they chose correctly. Sales on day one dashed any assumptions that New Yorkers want “tender” quick-cooking cuts. Observing what was left in the case just before closing time (New York strips, rib eyes, and fillets), Bloomfield said, “People want cold-weather cuts.” Indeed on opening day, it was mostly families stumbling into the corner store with kids pressing up against the case and parents asking questions in preparation for weekend slow-cooks and roasts.

Read the full story at www.EdbleManhattan.com.

Are School Gardens Here to Stay?

In early October Michelle Obama added a paved walkway to the White House Garden. Additional stone and steel elements were added to the grounds so that changing or removing perhaps her most prominent achievement would be more noticeable, if not more difficult.

Gardening, and specifically school gardens, has been a major element of Let’s Move!, the first lady’s signature campaign. The first lady went on a national garden tour in April, skipping the five boroughs but stopping at nearby Phillips Academy Charter School in Newark. The garden, as well as Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign, are a few of the many possible casualties of the upcoming election. And it begs the question – Are school gardens the new normal or are New York City school gardens in similar danger of going by the wayside as priorities change?

There are just under 600 school gardens in New York City’s 1800 schools, according to Grow to Learn NYC, a joint operation between GrowNYC, the city Parks Department, and the Department of Education’s Office of School Food (though the funding comes from the Mayor’s Office).

And players from various corners of the industry agree that the benefits of school gardens are numerous and well-known at this point. Physical activity, time spent outside, connection to food and healthier eating habits…the list goes on.

But does the increase in awareness, and the number of school gardens since Grow to Learn NYC was established in 2010, mean that school gardens in New York City are a permanent part of education in the five boroughs?

Read the full story at www.nycfoodpolicy.com.

Hungry and Homebound

In the photo, an overweight, grey-haired African American woman in a wheelchair eats from a styrofoam container. It isn’t particularly artful or compelling, but the Beth Hark Christian Counseling Center chose to feature this woman on their brochure because her story encompasses nearly everything they do.

The woman in the picture is Miss Mae – as Joan Williams, Executive Director of the Beth Hark Christian Counseling Center calls her. In her 80s, Miss Mae could not long ago be seen daily outside of a Harlem grocery store. Her son, now in prison, would deposit her there everyday so that she could beg for food.

Today, Ms. Mae is under much better care – she has a full time attendant and apartment to herself. This hard-to-digest case is just one explanation for the many forces working against one of the communities most vulnerable to food insecurity – the elderly, disabled or otherwise homebound. So much of New York City’s food assistance options require mobility, the capability to keep track of records and mail documents, or some kind of community or family assistance.

Through Medicare and other services Ms. Mae was able to get the medical and physical care she needed, but even after all the paperwork, recent changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program made it more difficult for her to eat for health at all times. And she still required food to be delivered since it is difficult for her to get around. That’s where Beth Hark comes in.

Read the full story at www.nycfoodpolicy.org.

The Women Behind Harlem’s Farmers’ Markets

“Harlem is like a small town in a big city,” is a refrain you hear a lot above 110th Street. What’s perhaps more accurate is Harlem is like 50 small towns in a big city—each block and corner has different challenges, needs and leaders.

Unlike many other pockets of New York City, farmers’ markets in Harlem have evolved largely separate from the ubiquitous Greenmarket system. Some markets are run by a single person. They are used to educate an unhealthy zip code or attempt to transform a neglected area. But the random, scattershot and organic way they have developed proves that there is no corner in the five boroughs that wouldn’t be improved by a farmers’ market.

The three women in this story show that when you shop at a farmers’ market in an up-and-coming neighborhood, it’s likely that the organizer was there before local real estate became desirable—and they just might have been a substantial part of making it what it is today.

 Read the full story at www.CivilEats.com

In Harlem, Rum Gets the Spotlight at Solomon & Kuff

Harlemites may not know it yet, but this summer, they’re all going to be hanging out down by the river. Frederick Douglass Boulevard has long been considered restaurant row above the park, but recently opened rum bar and gastropub Solomon & Kuff at 134th and 12th Avenue will have diners heading to the West Harlem viaduct’s shadows.

The Harlem restaurant scene has high standards, which doesn’t always mean high prices or flashy names. Karl Franz Williams, the restaurateur and mixologist behind Solomon & Kuff has been opening restaurants and cafés in Harlem for more than 10 years. With Caribbean roots from St. Vincent, combined with a love of rum and spice on display at his cocktail bar 67 Orange, Williams wants Solomon & Kuff to convey a strong sense of authenticity.

“This is the culmination of a lot of what I’ve been working on for 10 years,” says Williams.

Read the full story at www.EdibleManhattan.com.

Harlem Eatup! Might Just Be a Populist Food Festival

When Bill Clinton was in his twenties, he lived a few years in the United Kingdom. When he flew home, he would take a bus from the airport to Harlem and walk the length of 125th street. May 14 through 17 was Harlem’s inaugural Harlem EatUp! Festival, and no one in the crowd was expecting to see President Clinton return on Saturday May 16. Standing on the stage in Morningside Park, Clinton said, “Harlem is about music, the churches and the small businesses. But nothing characterizes this neighborhood more than the food.”

And he was right. There was a palpable sense of surprised delight from the planners and attendees.

It’s rare that a food event has so many different goals: Celebrate the community, attract chef and diner attention from other parts of the city, offer education and guidance to culinary students and small business owners, all while shining a spotlight on restaurants and vendors new to cooking for a five-hour ticketed tasting event. But stakeholders from all sides of the equation seemed satisfied with the turnout, the management and content of the events.

 Read the full story at www.EdibleManhattan.com.