Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • New California Climate Investment Serves Up Benefits for Butte County

    There is an unmistakable buzz on the streets of Butte County. The Northern California agricultural region, already well known for its orchards and farms, its tight-knit communities, and its commitment to sustainability just added a new attraction to its community profile.

    Welcome to California’s newest hub in the state’s battle against climate change.

    “You can see the enthusiasm around town. People are stunned and excited about this opportunity,” Laura Cootsona says before sharing her own reaction to news of a half-million dollar California Climate Investment. “I actually jumped up and down for days.”

    Cootsona is a Butte County resident and executive director of the Jesus Center in downtown Chico. For more than 30 years, the humanitarian nonprofit has offered meals, resources and other services to those struggling in and around Butte County. Now, with the help of a $499,789 California Climate Investment, the center is launching one of its boldest efforts yet to combat hunger—and climate change—by rescuing food for the hungry before it becomes waste.

    Californians throw away an estimated 6 million tons of food each year. When it decomposes in landfills, food and other organic material emits methane, a super pollutant responsible for roughly 20 percent of current global warming and 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

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    The Jesus Center operates a farm in Butte County and plans to begin a second farm soon to help provide fresh produce to neighbors in need.

    In partnership with the Community Action Agency of Butte County, which includes the North State Food Bank, the Jesus Center will use the nearly half-million dollar Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant to increase its ability to collect, transport, store, and distribute more food in and around Butte County.

    “What I love about this project is it allows us to do a ton of social good and environmental good at the same time,” Cootsona says. “This is going to change our community in a lot of serious ways.”

    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    “The physical body gets so broken down when you’re confronting the daily realities of poverty,” Cootsona says, noting food insecurity impacts roughly 1 in every 5 Butte County residents. Statewide, about 1 in 8 Californians are considered food-insecure. She adds, “Hunger should not be this prevalent in a state and in a region that produces so much of our nation’s food.”

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    The fruits and vegetables grown at the Jesus Center farm are used in meals at the Center’s kitchen in Chico. The farm also provides vocational opportunities related to food waste prevention and rescue work.

    In 2017, the Jesus Center prepared and plated more than 101,000 meals through its kitchen, shelter, and six transitional houses in and around Chico. Cootsona expects that number to keep rising as grant funding enables the Center to hire new staff, purchase new equipment—including a refrigerated truck and a new commercial kitchen—and upgrade its logistics software to better track food inventory and coordinate donations and deliveries.

    “With this new software, farmers, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other community partners can go online and notify us about new donations,” Cootsona says. “Depending on the food type, we’ll be able to immediately determine whether it should come to our kitchen in Chico or whether it can be better utilized by one of our 50 partner agencies within the North State Food Bank or in the Wildcat Food Pantry at Chico State.”

    Food that can’t be diverted to meals or distributed through the food banks will be composted at the Jesus Center farm or other partnering locations to make sure the organic material doesn’t wind up emitting greenhouse gases at area landfills.

    “Let’s get food that is designed to be consumed, eaten. Not into landfills.” Cootsona continues, “Composting is a great alternative to landfills, but we want the food in bellies first.”

    The center’s new project also includes money dedicated to vocational training in food waste prevention and recovery, further increasing the long-term benefits that will remain long after the grant funds run out.

    “We’re integrating this new technology and these new systems into our regular operations so these benefits will remain sustainable long-term,” Cootsona says, ensuring the Center can build on its decades-long history of preventing food waste, protecting the planet, and saving lives for decades to come.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on May 21, 2018

  • Food Waste – the Movie

    Food Waste Prevention Week has come and gone, but we want Californians to keep up their efforts to reduce food waste and protect the environment! Here is a video we created to raise awareness about the problem. Follow our tips to reduce food waste and save money!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Apr 12, 2018

  • Food Waste Prevention Recipe: Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowl with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice


    Last week we celebrated California’s first annual Food Waste Prevention Week. As CalRecycle’s Executive Fellow and a former restaurant cook, I have been sharing strategies and ideas to reduce food waste at home!

    Check out my last blog if you missed out on my tips for successful meal planning. Food Waste Prevention Week may be officially over, but there’s every reason for all of us to adopt food waste prevention as a lifestyle!

    I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes that I prepare for lunches during the workweek.

    I’m not vegan, but I do enjoy the tofu in this recipe. Searing the tofu is a little more labor-intensive than simply baking it in the oven, but the tofu’s brown edges resulting in the marinade caramelizing in the pan is worth the tradeoff. 

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    You can maximize your time by doing several steps at once, so make sure to read the whole recipe through before embarking on your delicious adventure!

    Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowl with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice

    Adapted from Budget Bytes

    Serves 4

    For the Tofu:

    1 14 oz. Block Extra Firm Tofu
    2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
    2 tablespoons Chili Garlic Sauce (or Sirach Sauce)
    1 tablespoon Ginger, grated finely
    1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
    1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

    For the Rice:

    2 Cups Brown Rice
    1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil (Optional) 

    For the Kale:

    2 cloves Garlic
    1 bunch Kale
    1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil

    Instructions:

    1.    Begin by pressing the tofu for up to 30 minutes in order to remove excess moisture. Wrap the tofu in a clean dishcloth or napkin, and place it between two dinner plates with something heavy on top, such as a can of beans or a pot filled with water.

    You don’t want to place anything too heavy that could smash the tofu. We just want to make sure the excess water is squeezed out.

    Draining the tofu of excess liquid encourages crispy browning of the surface when we cook it later on.

    2.    While the tofu is pressing, prepare the rice according to the package directions. Make sure to include salt! Once the rice is done cooking, fluff it with a fork and gently stir in the toasted sesame oil.

    3.    While the rice is cooking, assemble the marinade. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar and oil. Grate ginger directly into the marinade using the smallest side of a box grater or a microplate. Stir together and set aside.

    4.    At this point, the Tofu should be done draining. Cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut those halves in quarters. Place the tofu in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it. Allow the tofu to marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes, flipping the tofu over once to allow even absorption.

    5.    When the tofu is marinating, prepare the kale. First, gently tear the kale into 1- to 2-inch pieces. I don’t mind kale stems but if you do, remove them. Rinse well in a colander. Mince the garlic and sauté with oil in a large pot over medium heat until softened. Add the rinsed kale to the pot and sauté until the kale is softened to your taste. I personally prefer kale with a little tooth to it, about 5 minutes.

    6.    Next, the tofu should be done marinating and ready to be cooked. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add about 1 tsp of oil to the pan to prevent sticking.  Working in batches, sear the tofu on both sides until browned.

    7.    To assemble your meal prep, divide into 4 containers. Add about ½ to ¾ cup of rice to each container, then divide the tofu and kale among the containers. Meals should be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

    8.    Pack the container with your things on your way to work in the morning and enjoy your healthy, waste-free meal. Don’t forget to pack your metal fork and cloth napkin!

    Interested in other ways to reduce food waste?  Check out savethefood.com, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library, and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

    Posted on In the Loop by Allegra Curiel on Mar 12, 2018