Going, going, gone — but not wasted!
Entering the West Village Market, a small grocery store in West Asheville, one is immediately struck with how clean, beautiful, and efficiently organized it is. Everything looks tidy and immaculate. And most notably, this market puts hardly anything into the trash.
How do they do it? Rosanne Kiely, who co-owns West Village Market with Ron Ainspan, gives us the scoop:
Almost every food product can have its life extended by freezing. Both farmers and the grocery store use this method to protect locally sourced meat from spoilage. Many meat products arrive at West Village Market already frozen and then are stored in the freezer or sent directly to a display case depending on consumer demand.
Some meat comes in fresh and goes directly to the retail shelf. Meat products that are still fresh in the display case but not yet sold can have their shelf lives extended by freezing. Some fresh goods, such as bananas, that change texture or quality when frozen can be used for new purposes like smoothies or baked goods after freezing. This is a great way to keep inventory fresh and safe!
Repurposing and reusing
When West Village Market has an oversupply of a perishable product, staff members refer to a list of recipes they keep to find ways to turn it into a delicious dish and include it in the daily deli offerings before it spoils.
Non-perishable products that are nearing the end of their shelf lives are discounted for quick sale to get them into the hands — and bellies — of consumers faster. And the market recognizes that not all consumers need or want jumbo/family sizes of certain packaged products, such as cheese, and provide smaller-size purchased options to ensure less waste at home as well.
The market donates some items to Black Mountain-based nonprofit Bounty and Soul, which distributes fresh fruits, vegetables, and other usable foods to the community through its programming.
A perk of working at the West Village Market is that employees are encouraged to take home surplus foods that are reaching the end of their shelf lives. This is both a bonus for employees and avoids the cost of transporting the food to other locations for distribution.
Some edible products that are past their prime go to a local farmer who sends them along in the food chain by feeding them to livestock such as pigs and chickens.
Local waste-hauling and composting business Danny’s Dumpster collects compost on site at West Asheville Market. Some food scraps are fed to black soldier flies, which produce rich “frass,” or droppings that can be used as fertilizer and are themselves eventually used as food for chickens and fish.
The West Village Market collects the hard-to-recycle food containers, like potato chip bags, squeeze pouches, and bar wrappers, that we often simply throw away and packages them to be sent quarterly to TerraCycle, a business that recycles them into new products.
Article by Marc Rudow