This is the seventh article in our 8-part series of weekly blog posts called "The Good, the Bad, the Possibilities". For this series, we are asking local experts three questions to give you a quick overview of recent local trends and solutions with respect to a range of important issues that affect our community's sustainability. This week’s topic is local food, and our featured expert is Erin Hostetler, Board Member for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council.Read more
You may be familiar with your local farmers market, or try to buy locally grown foods when you grocery shop. But do you know how our Charlotte-regional food economy stacks up against other peer regions? On September 12th, over 100 people joined us at The Barrel Room at Catawba Brewing to learn about local foods and how they can make a difference. We were excited to have representatives from Carolina Farm Trust, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council, and Rivendell Farms in the room to talk to people about the work they’re doing, in addition to our presenter, Tom Warshauer, Assistant Director of Community Engagement for the City of Charlotte.
Did you know that the average American household spends $1,500 on food that ends up uneaten? Sustain Charlotte recently partnered with Livable Meck to co-host a workshop on the topic of food waste and sustainability.
Our program director Meg Fencil explains the connection between food waste, sustainability, and equity.
Household expenses, health, and environment
The median Charlotte household spends 29% of their income on housing and another 22% on transportation. For many households, food is their third-highest expense. When a large percentage of that food is wasted, it places an extra financial strain on the household. That means less money is available for other household needs.
Denada Jackson from Solid Waste Services and David Valder from Crown Town Compost educated the audience about the environmental and health impacts of excessive food waste. When food and other organic material decomposes in the landfill, it generates methane, which is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. However, when food is composted and decomposes in the presence of oxygen, it generates carbon dioxide instead of methane. In other words: a composted banana has a much smaller carbon footprint than a landfilled banana.Read more
Are you looking for a way to not only better understand the sustainability needs of neighborhoods throughout Charlotte, but also partner with residents in a very hands-on way in support of their goals?
If so, the Sustain Charlotte Community Corps (SCCC) wants to meet you!
The SCCC connects like-minded volunteers who support Charlotte neighborhoods!Read more
[This is a guest blog post by Amanda Zullo]
Amanda Zullo, a 2016 Emerging City Champions grant recipient winner sponsored by 8 80 Cities and the Knight Foundation, had the opportunity to be one of three guest speakers at Sustain Charlotte’s recent September Green Drinks + Monthly Mixer to share the story of her grant initiative, Pop Up Produce. With a room filled of Sustain Charlotte participants and members, the presentation taught the crowd how Pop Up Produce is tackling food deserts by raising awareness through education and empowerment, and teaching people how to grow their own food in our community.
Amanda Zullo (center) and a volunteer explained the Fresh Start kits to mixer guests. (photo by Alex Walker)Read more
Join us in congratulating the Fifth and Poplar Condominium residents on the new community garden they constructed! Here at Sustain Charlotte, we believe that everyone should have access to fresh, nutritious food. We love to see neighbors partner to make their sustainable vision a reality!
Residents pitched in to bring the new garden to life!
Growing food close to where we live brings so many benefits:
It's environmentally sustainable: Every pound of food grown at home means a pound of food that doesn't have to be trucked in by vehicles that use fossil fuels and contribute to air pollution.
It's economically sustainable: Growing the right crops at home can result in big savings in the family food budget.
It's socially sustainable: Charlotte has over 60 food deserts where residents don't have close access to full-service grocery stores. Gardens can be planted almost anywhere to provide fresh produce in areas where it isn't available at stores. Community gardens also bring neighbors together to work towards the common goal of bringing in a great harvest!
Here's what Dan Buchanan, the project organizer, told us about this effort:Read more
Have you ever wondered how a local business can be more sustainable? Sustain Charlotte's Silver Partner Pasta & Provisions, Charlotte's family-owned Italian grocery and fresh pasta maker, is a great example of how a small business can do many seemingly small things that add up to make a difference.
During our August Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer, Tommy George, owner of Pasta & Provisions, inspired the audience by sharing the many ways in which his business is contributing to a more sustainable Charlotte community.
Tommy George discussed Pasta & Provisions' commitment to sustainability.
Tommy George and his wife, Debbie, opened Pasta & Provisions in 1992 in its current Myers Park location in Charlotte. From the very beginning, Tommy George had sustainability on his mind. First things first, he told mixer attendees, he was determined to get a recycling bin on the property. While it was bit of a challenge to get the property owner to give up a parking space, Tommy was eventually successful in his request.
Over 20 years later, the George's business has embraced sustainability in various ways:
Before you even enter the store, a sticker on the door that says "please remember to BYOB" reminds customers to bring in their reusable bag. Pasta & Provisions distributed 500 reusable shopping bags.
Employees also reflect the business's dedication to sustainability by asking "do you need a bag?" at check-out.
Tommy told mixer attendees about the creative way that he has encouraged sustainability around one of his top-selling items -- olive oil. Pasta & Provisions has 7 olive oils on tap! If that isn't cool enough, Tommy also encourages customers to re-use olive oil jars by allowing them to bring back their old jar for a re-fill. And, Tommy shared, if you forget your jar, no problem, you can grab a coffee cup from your car and fill that up with your favorite olive oil instead!
And it doesn't stop there. Customers can also get a discount by bringing in their own containers to fill with pasta sauce.
Pasta & Provisions has also committed to purchasing food packaging that is both sustainable and meets the needs of his business.
These are all examples of the creative ways in which a business owner can incorporate the mindset of sustainability into their business culture and practice. We're so grateful for the generous support of Pasta & Provisions and all of our partners. To learn how Sustain Charlotte can partner with your organization, visit our partnership page.
We offer Platinum and Gold Sponsors of the Sustain Charlotte Awards + Earth Day Celebration the opportunity to post a relevant article to our website. Charlotte Magazine is a Gold Sponsor of the 2015 event and we're so grateful for their support! The article they'd like to share with you features many of the nine local farm-to-fork restaurants that are food sponsors of our awards event. If you like what you see here, be sure to buy your Early Bird tickets soon!
By Michael Graff, Leigh Ann Henion, Leah Hughes, Sarah Nowicki, Lisa Rab, Adam Rhew, & Courtney St. Onge
WHILE CITIES LIKE Charleston and Atlanta still receive more recognition for having the South’s top restaurants, Charlotte’s food scene simmers. In the past year, the city’s tastes have expanded with French and Italian and German restaurants, along with plenty of new farm-to-fork options. The 13 restaurants on the pages that follow are helping to make Charlotte the most exciting food city in the region. Read the full Charlotte Magazine article here.