BA Sausage freezes product that is close to the expiry date and donates it to the food bank to reduce waste.

BA Sausage freezes product that is close to the expiry date and donates it to the food bank to reduce waste.

Getting to the meat of reducing food waste

Revelstoke meat processors discuss their ways of reducing waste.

  • Jan. 5, 2017 5:00 a.m.

By Goldie Rich, Community Connections

Food waste is a complex issue that goes well beyond its contribution to climate change through the release of methane from mixing ‘organic’ waste with ‘inorganic’ waste in the landfill. What about the resources used to produce the food? Or the growing trend to purchase more and waste more, which has been directly correlated to poverty and malnutrition?

The foods we waste with the most damaging environmental impact are from animal products, including meat and dairy, because a significant amount of energy and water is used to raise livestock. According to a study completed by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, it is estimated 200,000 litres of water is required to produce one kilogram of factory farm beef. Dr. Colin Sage, a food systems professor at the University of College Cork in Ireland, says, “Global demand for meat and dairy is fast increasing, driven by rising incomes, growing populations and urbanization.”

Sage established a connection between food waste in rich countries and food poverty elsewhere.

“If the [rich countries] buy hundreds of millions of tonnes of food and end up throwing it away, these countries are effectively and gratuitously removing food from the market that could have been bought by others,” Sage says.

According to the World Food Program, more than 765 million people don’t have enough food to lead a healthy lifestyle. Meanwhile, according to a report in JAMA Internal Medicine, 40 per cent of American men and 35 per cent of American women are obese, while a slightly smaller percentage were simply overweight.

This means a significant part of the world suffers from either malnutrition or obesity, suggesting food waste is a symptom of affluence and is as much of a moral issue and health issue as it is an intense environmental issue.

The modern food system has become characterized by a scandalous chain of discard and waste all along the food chain. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates North America loses 40 percent of its food to the landfill on its way from farm to fork.

Overall, this colossal loss of food is tragic and is quite simply a scenario the world cannot afford, leaving us to ask, “How can we decrease our food waste?”

In Revelstoke, there are many opportunities to support local businesses that provide the low waste practices we seek. For example, we can shop directly from our local butcher at their butcher shop, or from local processors at the farmers market.

Today, there are three local meat butchers and processors in our community carrying the torch of zero waste practices.

Barry from BA Sausage Company

Barry Asmundson from BA sausage learned to butcher and process meat from his father at the age of 12. “My father instilled in me zero waste practices,” he says. “He would check my waste bucket to make sure I wasn’t wasting.”

Barry has lived in Revelstoke since 1991 and started his meat processing business in 2006.

Most of his products, including sausage and bacon, are made with pork and poultry. He takes pride in his quality product sourced from regional local suppliers in Salmon Arm and Armstrong.

Barry adopted many zero-waste practices for his business, including freezing product that is close to the expiratory date and donating it to the food bank.

His advice for people who wish to lower their meat waste at home is to control your inventory by making sure you freeze your meat before it goes bad.

Ray from Ray’s Butcher Shop

Ray Cooper from Ray’s Butcher Shop was inspired to be a butcher by his Opa and his Dad. He studied meat processing at Thompson Rivers University and he opened his shop in 2011 at the age of 25.

Ray’s offers pork, beef, chicken, poultry, lamb, rabbit, duck and seafood.

Ray says every good meat processor has zero-waste practices because it’s in their economic interest. He makes many types of sausages for his business. “Sausages are a classic waste recovery food,” he says.

His advice for people who wish to lower their meat waste at home is to use the bones to make soup broth.

Alex Cameron, local game butcher

Alex and Doreen Cameron have butchered game in Revelstoke for 40 years. Alex was inspired to become a butcher because he didn’t like what other butchers did to his meat. “They were wasting it,” he says.

He wants new hunters to be educated around how animals should be prepared so meat isn’t wasted. He recommends talking to your local game butcher about how your animal is prepared before it gets to them.

Alex adopts many zero-waste practices for his business, including feeding bones and meat not suitable for human consumption to Revelstoke’s local dog sled team.

He says if you wish to lower your meat waste at home, make sure you wrap your meat in saran wrap and paper before freezing it. This can make it last up to five years in your deep freeze.

Where can I purchase these products?

Ray’s Butcher Shop is located at 607 Victoria Road. It’s open seven days a week.

BA Sausage products are available at Le Marché, Mountain Meals, and the Winter Farmers Market. Some restaurants in town, including the 112 Lounge, use BA products on their menu.

Alex would be happy to butcher your game, call him at 250 837 2436.

Food Recovery Program

In addition to local businesses that support zero-waste, Community Connections’ Food Recovery program offers opportunities for food businesses to lower their food waste and support community members in need.

Since March 2016, more than 50,000 pounds of perfectly good food, including 5,000 pounds of meat product, has been recovered and redistributed in Revelstoke. More than 500 people per week access recovered food through Community Connections.

For more information on the Food Recovery Program, visit community-connections.ca/food-security or the Community Connections Facebook page.

Click here to read the first part of our series, which looks at local animal farmers.