We had the privilege of celebrating at the 2021 Tāmaki Makaurau Zero Waste Awards last evening hosted by Auckland City Council and Eco Matters Charitable Trust.
114 individuals, groups, schools, marae, local businesses and social enterprises were nominated for this year’s awards, which recognise those doing great things to help Auckland achieve its vision of zero waste by 2040.
From food to fabric, construction waste to the circular economy, the amazing stories of those working to reduce waste to landfill across Tāmaki Makaurau were told.
It has been super swept this month, since received urgent call of 1200kg imperfect mandarins, follow by cucumbers greenhouse cleaning up that we received over 200kg fresh & crunchy short cucumbers only issue is they're too short for supermarket. We were looking forward to meet other zero waste hero and find out new way to collaborate together. We didn't thought we would be win anything as we have much more to learn, to progress.
Big thanks to all judges, Auckland City Council and EcoMatters, this means a lot to our Imperfect Rescue Community. We bring Community Collaboration - Hā ora, Hāpori Award back to home! This award recognises businesses or social enterprises who are ‘walking the talk’ by demonstrating a commitment in building community partnerships to reduce waste.
Since we launched in March 2020 with the belief that ‘ugly is the new tasty’. We tackle the issue of pre-harvest food loss by gleaning produce that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to those in need. Our founder Wendy Zhou's family made commitment in gleaning service every Saturday and now our Imperfect Rescue Programme has more than 300 members who together have rescued more than 89,000kg of imperfect fruit and veggies that would otherwise have gone to waste. You might noticed that we're now Perfectly Imperfect Charitable Trust, yes we have filed our application to Charity Service to become the 24th food rescue charity focus on creation of sustainable food system that appreciate value of all kind of food, and feed people who in need.
"When I first read FAO report estimated about 20% of food never left farm, I was shocked then I want to learn more and did some further researches to see if there's actual measurement of food loss" Wendy said :" Data would never lie and estimation is not enough"
Because our gleaning volunteer program has experienced much worse cases over 90% food loss in the farm, ie cauliflowers due to imperfect shapes, non-white colour, and too big or too small shapes. Growers only able to harvested 15% and it's not they don't want to harvest more, it's simply economy101 "supply vs demand". At the same time, supermarket put price up $6 each, of course consumers would buy less. Therefore supermarket will order less from growers, it just not working well and something is not feel quite right here.
Dr. Lisa Johnson of North Carolina State University, has been focused on food loss left behind in the farm and done few in field measurement back in 2018. She had found much higher than FAO estimation, over 42% of total production has never left in the farm. "I reached out to her and discussed about her researches," Wendy continue her researches and study after days, weeks and months. "I was desperate to find out more data on this food loss subject, the more data I analysis altogether so I could have better picture of what's happening in the past and now, therefore I could come up solution that fit future and save our generation now!"
We need to start with WHY first, then we could work out HOW. "I guess that's who I am, work in data industry for decades in Canada, New Zealand and China, specialized in data visualization and storytelling with vivid imagination of numbers. I graduated from University of Auckland in Biological Science and Statistics. I always believe in data is alive, it has story to tell that just need to listen"
We have been keep looking for help and share our stories, data with other. We have meet and partner with numbers of amazing people, organisations, growers and charities on this path. We're grateful to have all of you believe in our mission - to create a sustainable food system that guarantee value of these imperfect food and they will be on family's dinner plate, no otherwise.
There're few celebrating milestones for us,
Last year November, we rescued 600kg marrow size zucchinis (min 3kg each) from Brett's farm in Kerikeri with help from NZherald journalist David Fisher ; EverybodyEats, local schools, Browns Bay community and local offices to help with distributions, many families enjoy some childhood memory flesh-back
Over tonnes of citrus rescue mission partner with Seeka, Cauliflower sized oranges and recently Sastuma mandarins all from Gisborne. We have received many feedbacks and most common question is "Why these are imperfect? They're the best mandarins/oranges I ever had!" That's right, UGLY is DELICIOUS
First gleaning service onboard is The Perfect Produce aka The Fresh Grower by Allan Fong Our first meeting, I can feel his pain and he certainly can tell how committed I am on gleaning service. We're grateful of this partnership, and continually we gleaning together every Saturday start with baby leeks, beetroots, spring onions, then cauliflowers and broccoli, even cauliflower stick and broccolinis. All of them are leftovers in the field, but they're most delicious food everyone ever had tasted! Allan donate everything that we gleaned, because we believe one day we could help more local growers like himself.
So it becomes true, we started onboard NZ garlic growers, few local Indian vegetables growers in Aka Aka and Papakura, also searching growers in the shoulder season.
We proactively seeking opportunity to share our story with community, our first successful even GoGreenExpo 2021 bought us over 300 people just in 1day and our first 'Stop Eating by our Eyes' campaign rescued 205kg imperfect food within 2days. Then the first national Food Waste Summit in March. Later we busy participate on different community event, POS Birkenhead Sustainable Workshop, Glen Innes Community Garden Opening days and we even start new market at Albany on every Saturday.
There're more news and plans coming up, and we need your help more than ever. Send us a message if you could lend your time, funding our mission, or if you're growers that let our gleaning volunteers to help you save your hard works etc.