Since 2016, the Petite-Patrie food security organization known as CRAC has been recovering unsold food from Jean-Talon Market in an effort to fight food waste.
Recover. Redistribute. Support.
On paper, the process for fighting food waste is simple. Three times a week, CRAC volunteers pick up fruits and vegetables that merchants haven’t sold. Once sorted, the produce is added to food aid baskets that are distributed to families in the area. “Part of our mission is to give those in need the chance to eat fruits and vegetables all year round,” says Nathalie Bouchard, CRAC’s Executive Director.
But when it comes to fresh produce, there are various challenges. “To maximize the amount of produce redistributed, we had to set up a cold storage room at the market and buy a refrigerated truck,” says Nathalie. “Fortunately, we received funding from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie borough.”
In 2018, an average of 1.5 tonnes of fruits and vegetables were recovered each week: mostly top-quality products that were saved from the trash thanks to the CRAC initiative.
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Canning: A way to further reduce food waste
Nathalie and her team soon realized they could take the initiative a step further. “When large quantities of a particular fruit or vegetable like peppers came in, we struggled to redistribute them all before they spoiled. Plus, people were fed up with always getting the same thing in their baskets.” So the team decided to launch a new project, Les saisonniers font peau neuve, with the goal of giving new life to these fruits and vegetables.
With a grant from 100º and the Louis Bonduelle Foundation, CRAC hired a cook to can some of the fruits and vegetables it received. “We wanted to keep providing people with fresh fruits and vegetables, too,” explains Nathalie.
Throughout 2018, they explored ideas. “To create our recipe bank, we first had to determine which fruits and vegetables came in large quantities, when and how often,” says Nathalie. The cook then tried out ways to prepare them. The goal was to come up with recipes that involved minimal processing and limit costs as much as possible. Families got to test ketchup, chutney, gazpacho and spreads in the process.
CRAC aims to double the number of recipes by the end of 2019. It also plans to market its products. And in 2020, unsold produce from Jean-Talon Market will be on the shelves in CRAC’s solidarity grocery store—a brilliant way to reduce food waste even more!
Les saisonniers font peau neuve is a winner of the 100° call for proposals, “S’approvisionner autrement: fruits et légumes à l’année pour tous!” [Sourcing differently: Fruits and vegetables all year round for all!], conducted in partnership with the Louis Bonduelle Foundation.
100° is the reference for healthy living in Quebec.
Centre de ressources et d’action communautaire Petite-Patrie