When Life Gives You Rusted Apples, Make Apple Juice

Nathan Kumar ’17

“You better finish your food because there are starving kids in Africa”. Most people have probably heard a friend or family member say this as justification to not waste food. Though this popular saying is not necessarily practical it does capture the frustration that comes with wasting food especially when underprivileged groups are not able to access food themselves. Food waste is a topic that has irritated me at least in part because it can seem like no one is doing anything about it. But after spending several days meeting with producers and organizations involved with growing and distributing food in Adams County I have learned and come to appreciate some of the measures being taken to reduce food waste.

Gettysburg may be known for its battlefield but Adams County as a whole is known for its agricultural sector. The county produces a variety of fruits and vegetables but is known for one in particular – apples. In fact, Adams county, home to many orchards that span hundreds of acres, is one of the largest producers of apples in the United States. Companies and farmers in Adams county have found ways to reduce the number of apples wasted. For example, some companies give apples that are simply unappealing, but otherwise edible, to prisons or soup kitchens. Another method used by companies is to repurpose unappealing apples into other products such as apple juice or apple sauce. Though it is less profitable for farmers to use their apples in sauces or juices, it is a way to cut their losses while also preventing the waste of perfectly good apples. Organizations within the Adams County community are also seeking to reduce food waste while supporting the community. One such organization in Gettysburg is called the Gleaning Project. The Gleaning Project collects and distributes crops that are not profitable for a farmer to those within the community who would otherwise be unable to afford fresh produce.

This isn’t to say that food waste has been eliminated from Adams County. Food waste will likely always remain an issue due to consumer preferences and environmental unpredictability. Since gleaned goods are prohibited from being sold, organization like the Gleaning Project may also face financial difficulties that could limit their ability to distribute food. Yet the actions of the companies and organizations mentioned above and others like them represent progress. They are working towards reducing food waste while also attempting to aid underprivileged members of the community. The implementation of these experiments has shown me that there is at least an effort being made  to resolve a problem that has both local and international implications.