Whole Animal Utilization, Regenerative Agriculture, and Common Sense Farming for Over 100 Years
Asheville, NC, April 14, 2021 – The city of Asheville has officially proclaimed April as Food Waste Reduction Month. Did you know that one-third of all food in the U.S. gets wasted annually? According to the nonprofit ReFed, that’s about $408 billion worth of food, grown on 18 percent of U.S. farmland with 4 trillion tons of water. At Hickory Nut Gap, we don’t take this lightly. Creating a sustainable food chain is the foundation of all our operations, and in honor of Food Waste Reduction Month, we want to speak up, raise awareness, and offer some tips.
According to Sarah Kaplan, writer for the Washington Post, “The carbon footprint of U.S. food waste is greater than that of the airline industry. Globally, wasted food accounts for about 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions… Meanwhile, a staggering 26 million American adults told the Census Bureau last fall that they hadn’t had enough to eat in the previous week.”
When battling food waste, Hickory Nut Gap believes supporting local farms and other local food businesses that are in line with the regenerative movement is an important place to start. This debate is bigger than just grassfed and pasture raised meats – it’s about learning how to prevent food waste and creating a more equitable food system for all.
At Hickory Nut Gap, our production practices focus on closing loops. Meaning, how can a waste product of one enterprise serve and benefit another? Here are just a few things we’ve been doing on our farms for over 20 years.
We’re a network of small family farmers, which means whole animal utilization is very important to us. We try to use every part of the animal, and when there is excess inventory, we donate it to MANNA Foodbank, the Rotary, and other local nonprofits so they can put it to optimal use serving the community. These organizations often take bones, offal, and other items that would become waste at the processor if we didn’t “rescue” them for other uses.
The farm also turns things like pork tails, skin and ears into dog treats, and we work with local companies that use our unconventional products and turn them into something completely different, like body care items and clothing. Stay tuned on this front – we’ve got some exciting news coming soon!
Composting & Redistribution:
Our farms also compost as much as possible, which in turn can be fed to egg laying chickens and breeding stock. Many of our partner farmers have vegetable crops that we also feed to our breeding stock when they have excess crops that aren’t fit to sell.
Eat less meat, eat better meat:
We raise our meat on the most nutritionally dense soil and high-energy pasture possible thanks to regenerative farming. It’s a beautiful cycle that gives back to the Earth, leaving land improved and rejuvenated for generations to come. In turn, our meats taste better than conventionally farmed meat, and are more nutritionally dense, too. 100% grassfed beef contains a higher proportion of Omega-3s and CLAs than grain finished beef along with higher proportions of Vitamin E and beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor. You don’t need copious amounts to enjoy the benefits, a recommended serving size of meat is only 5 1⁄2 ounces daily according to the USDA’s MyPlate Model.
We understand that not everyone is able to afford 100% grassfed and pasture raised meats when they shop, or maybe you choose not to eat meat at all. In any case, there are many ways to shift our behaviors, and in turn, help reduce food waste:
- Support companies that are in line with the regenerative movement and who prioritize limiting food waste.
- Love your freezer: Freeze fruits, veggies, bread, and meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
- Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. Ex: Bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.
- Plan ahead. Think about what you’re going to cook and how you’ll use it for leftovers.
- Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- Compost food scraps rather than throw them away.
- Nutritious, safe, untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
- Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” and expiration dates.
…. And so much more! Check out this extremely helpful list from the EPA.
Here are a few individuals and organizations that are passionate about reducing food waste that we like to follow:
- Mother Makings (Maggie uses our 100% grassfed tallow for her skincare products!)
- The Zero Waste Chef – step-by-step zero-waste living tips and recipes
- ReFed – national nonprofit working to end food waste and loss across the U.S.
- MANNA FoodBank – involving, educating, and uniting people in the work of ending hunger in WNC.
- Bounty and Soul – nonprofit providing free produce markets and wellness education in Black Mountain.
- WNC Food Waste – a community of volunteers working to reduce food waste in WNC
- The Food Matters Project at NRDC – partners with cities to achieve meaningful reductions in food waste through comprehensive policies and programs.
We hope that this blog post inspires us all to rethink the way we buy food. Every small step that we take towards reducing food waste matters.
About Hickory Nut Gap:
Hickory Nut Gap Meats is a leading producer of pasture-raised meats based out of a 100- year-old family farm in Western North Carolina. Hickory Nut Gap values and respects the complex relationships between humans and nature. By using regenerative agriculture and ethical animal welfare practices, Hickory Nut Gap produces extraordinary meats that are unsurpassed in flavor and healthiness – while making a net-positive impact on climate change and overall ecosystem health.
For more information visit HickoryNutGap.com or contact 828-628-1027 x305 / firstname.lastname@example.org. Find @hickorynutgapmeats on Facebook and @hickorynutgap on Instagram and LinkedIn.