Thanks to more widespread media coverage, the general public is becoming more and more aware that America has a food waste problem. 31 percent (or 133 billion pounds) of food went uneaten in 2010 in the U.S. Though individual consumers are partially responsible for the problem, much more of this food waste is generated by restaurants and food companies, which discard large amounts of food in the form of scraps. Vegetable skins, fat trimmed from meat, and leftover chunks of fruit are tossed out in large numbers, where they are collected as garbage and end up in landfills. As it biodegrades, such garbage releases CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to the buildup of greenhouse gasses which cause climate change.
But one pickle company--The Real Dill in Denver, Colorado--has committed itself to doing something useful with its food waste. Instead of tossing out the nearly 300 pounds of food waste produced by the company each week, The Real Dill makes use of its leftover scraps by transforming some into compost and others into Bloody Mary's.
Pickle production requires cucumbers to be soaked in a water-based solution known as a brine. Once the pickles are made, the brine is usually thrown out. But the founders of The Real Dill found this wasteful, and so decided to use their leftover brine as the the base ingredient in a new Bloody Mary mix. This mix, available in The Real Dill's stores and their online shop, is now The Real Dill's best selling item, according to Fast Company. The Real Dill also sells leftover dill leaves, soaked in garlic-infused water, as snack items. Even their plain pickle brine is sold as is, online.
The Real Dill has also found an innovative use for those scraps which cannot be transformed into new foods. Re:Vision, an organization which helps low-income neighborhoods develop better food resources via the cultivation of urban gardens, has partnered with The Real Dill, taking on their scraps for use as compost. Now, instead of rotting in landfills, The Real Dill's food scraps are helping to fuel fresh new produce for those who need it most.
The Real Dill co-founder, Justin Park, is pleased that his company's food scraps are being used for the great good. He recently told Fast Company that, "For us, it felt like a win–we’re keeping these scraps out of the landfill, and putting them in the hands of an organization that’s using them for good. Whatever minimal responsibility it creates for us is completely worthwhile."
The Real Dill's blog offers a page of recipes which utilize leftovers from items that customers might have already bought. It's a simple way to spread the word about food waste while helping others create foods and cocktails of their own, and for The Real Dill to maintain their status as a true zero waste food company.