• Selange Giannetto

Waste Not, Want Not!

Updated: Apr 12

Have you ever wondered what happens to not-so-perfect produce? As a vegan on a budget, I find the idea of purchasing imperfect foods for a lower price very appealing. Grocery stores, fruit stands, and markets often repackage less than perfect produce for pennies on the dollar, usually $0.99 or even less.

Companies such as "Imperfect Foods" have taken the grocery store repackaging to a higher level. Offering customers monthly boxes delivered straight to your door. Not everyone can afford the monthly fee of delivery service. So what happens then? What happens to the excess produce not just from grocery stores, but from the farms themselves? Where does the remainder of the food go?

Who Comes to the Rescue?

Since 1994 Borderlands Produce Rescue has reclaimed 559 million pounds of fresh produce. Why is this non for profit so important? Every pound rescued is made available to millions across Arizona, Northern Mexico, and 19 other states. [1]. Often, the communities served have little access due to living in food deserts or food swamps.

Photo Courtesy of Todays Dietitian [2]

Borderlands Rescue has several programs in its arsenal and is available to everyone:

Produce Rescue: Produce not purchased by retailers, from produce distributors, would just be dumped in the landfill as it is too costly for distributors to transport back to the growers.

Rescued prior to reaching landfills.

Veggies R' Us: Direct Client Distribution allows for everyday individuals to stop by the Borderlands Nogales warehouse to access fresh produce. Clients participating in the program can obtain an entire shopping cart full of produce, all for just a contribution of $5 for a minimum of 100 lbs.

P.O.W.W.O.W.: Produce on wheels without waste, program operates during the produce harvest season, typically November through August. Every week, P.O.W.W.O.W. host sites are held in cities around Arizona. The sites are often community churches, civic organizations, schools and universities. Clients who visit these sites can leave with up to 70 lbs of fresh produce, all just for a contribution of $12.

P.O.W.W.O.W Food Distribution Tolleson, AZ

Why is food rescue important?

Good nutrition is essential for numerous reasons. It can help prevent or reduces incidences of chronic diseases [diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and obesity], often affecting communities of color [Black, Hispanic, and Native American]. Organizations like Borderlands Rescue and Feeding American and United Food Bank of Arizona understand by tackling our national problem of wasted fruits and vegetables; food banks think they can also get vital, nutritious food to people who lack access.[3,4] Arizona farmers produce ten of the sixteen commodities sold in grocery stores; leafy greens, cabbage, dates, melons, lemons, oranges, apples, potatoes, and tomatoes are just some foods grown in the nourishing soil of Arizona [5]

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Arizona Farm Bureau [6]

A focus group study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that increasing access to high-quality fruits and vegetables with Borderlands Rescue programs is an integral part of a multifaceted approach to community health. [2]

What can you do with with all those fruits and veggies? Here are a few simple recipes to help you get the biggest nutritional POW to prevent waste.

Cowboy Chow Chef/Dietitian Jodie Shields Healthy Eating for Families

Broccoli Slaw Sherri Brooks Vinton Food Print

Ratatoullie Community Food Bank AZ

Pasta is ALWAYS a blank slate and vegetables and fruits are a great way to add fun and flavor!


1. 559 Million Pounds Rescued Since 1994. Borderlands. Published 2017. 2. Ganong MS, RDN L, Harmon PhD, RD A. Understanding Food Security in a Socio-Economic Context.; 2019. Accessed March 27, 2021. 3. Khazan O. Food Swamps Are the New Food Deserts. The Atlantic. Published December 28, 2017. Accessed March 27, 2021. 4. Plate FY. New Arizona Law Makes it Easier for Farmers to Donate Nutritious Fresh Produce. Fill Your Plate Blog. Published April 9, 2012. Accessed March 27, 2021. 5. of Agriculture AD. Guide to Arizona Agriculture. ; 2014. Accessed March 27, 2021. 6. Annual Commodity Chart.; 2021. Accessed March 27, 2021. 7. Chef » JSMFT. Cowboy Chow! Healthy Eating for Families. Accessed March 28, 2021. 8. Vinton SB. How to Use Broccoli or Cauliflower Stems and Leaves. FoodPrint. Published July 26, 2018. Accessed March 28, 2021. 9. Ratatoullie. Community Food Bank of Souther Arizona. Accessed March 28, 2021.

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