I attended a TEDx event yesterday, titled “Changing the Way We Eat.” There were some great innovations (e.g. crowd-sourcing technology connecting restaurant ingredients to their sources) and animated and entertaining performances (e.g. by an amazing 6th grade teacher in the South Bronx that built an edible wall with his students). I also saw – for at least the 3rd or 4th time – this Jamie Oliver TED Talk. It inspires me every time.
But what left the deepest impression on me was the final talk of the day, by Gary Oppenheimer, founder of AmpleHarvest.org. Over 50 million Americans live in food insecure homes and many rely on local food pantries. But the amount of food is often insufficient and we all know that food drives (which supply the pantries) only take non-perishable items such as canned food.
At the same time, over 40 million Americans have home gardens and at harvest time have too much fresh veggies and fruit for them to use. Much of their produce is thrown away or left to rot, even after sharing with their friends and neighbors. AmpleHarvest.org educates and encourages gardeners to donate their excess harvest to local pantries, providing fresh produce that will help to feed the needy in the community. The gardeners and beneficiaries both know that the food is grown and is benefitting someone else in their own neighborhood.
The beauty of organizations like this is the innovation to create real value (fresh, tasty and healthy produce for the hungry, an improved community bond, and less waste) out of nothing.