Food waste at the Co-op

By Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator

How many times in the past month have you reached back in the fridge to snack on some fresh strawberries only to discover… mold?! In the United States, 40% of food is wasted every year. Luckily, how we address food waste can have a major impact. According to Paul Hawkin’s Drawdown, reducing food waste is #3 on the list of best ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. At the Co-op, we use the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy as a guide to bettering our own practices.

Source Reduction and Reuse

Ever wonder what happens to a carton of eggs with a cracked bunch? At the Co-op, we reuse these eggs for your breakfast. Deli staff will sort and reuse peaches, strawberries, bananas, and more for bakery goods, smoothies, and cold bar desserts. Imperfect produce can be used for vegetable stock, hot bar meals, or the salad bar. Every day at 8 pm, the Deli hot bar price is reduced to $8.95 per lb to reduce waste.

Feed Hungry People

After resourcing useable food, staff glean the rest. There are several places behind the scenes for employees to discover their dinner. On a regular day, a Co-op employee could glean a few slightly bruised apples, a damaged can of garbanzo beans, a leaky carton of goat milk, and a piece of cornbread from the night before.

Additionally, at the end of every day except Christmas, the Co-op is visited by a special guest: the Ashland Food Angels. The Angels deliver food to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, which provides emergency food supplies, without charge, to individuals and families in the Ashland/Talent area who would otherwise go hungry.

In total, throughout every year at the Co-op, about 22,000 lbs of healthy, edible food are diverted from the landfill and given to those in need.

Feed Animals

There is one more special guest that visits the Co-op every day - Crack o' Dawn Farm. They pick up several large barrels of food scraps to deliver as fodder for the animals. The scraps are given to goats, cows, and pigs. Deli and Produce staff collect these food scraps for the farm, making sure there are no rubber bands, paper wrapping, or metal twist ties that could injure the animals.


There are two things that goats and pigs can’t eat: coffee grounds and eggshells. These are the two main components for our compost stream. A local farmer picks up these barrels weekly to add to his compost pile.


The last stop on our journey is the landfill. Right now, the Co-op diverts over 80% of our waste, which is a strong step towards our goal of being zero-waste.

Through our practices and commitment to zero waste, we can make an impact in our community. Every time you choose to eat at the Co-op, you are choosing to support local farmers, our staff, and families in need of fresh, healthy food in Ashland and Talent. Instead of food wasters, we can count ourselves as abundant food innovators.

More Co-op News

Wellness Secret Weapons

There are still plenty of colds and viruses making their rounds, and we want to help you better defend against them!

In January, we asked on social media what kind of secret weapons you use in the winter to stay healthy. We had a lot of responses, so we'll start with the All-Stars.

With your initial recommendations, our Wellness team reviewed the suggestions and picked the products with the highest quality standards and best feedback. Check those out below.


Mushrooms for wellness

You may have heard about the fascinating discovery that trees can communicate with each other. What’s the secret? The mycelia - tiny strands of fungus - in the soil form a vast underground network through which trees send chemical signals to their neighbors.

The mycelia differs from the fruiting body of the mushroom, which is the reproductive component that contains spores and is thought to be higher in Beta Glucans.

What to do with all this citrus?!

So you grabbed a few too many extra oranges and grapefruits and lemons (and some finger limes, and some satsumas…), and rather than watch them go bad, we want to provide you with some ideas on how to reduce waste. You’ll also get to enjoy citrus in a lot of new ways!

There are many guides and recipes across the internet (like this one by our friends at Grow Forage Cook Ferment), so here are a few ideas to get your creative and citrus juices flowing.

Update from the General Manager: "Food for Paradise" campaign

Ashland Food Co-op's General Manager, Emile Amarotico, ends 2018 on a very uplifting note with a report back on the "Food for Paradise" donation campaign. Watch the video below, or read on for an extended written update.

Hello, this is Emile Amarotico, the general manager of Ashland Food Co-op with an update on the Co-op’s Food for Paradise initiative.

5 Fresh Ways to Save at the Co-op

We’ve all been there: your bank account is looking thin after a month of celebrations, but you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to save up for a big purchase later in the year

Now’s the time to make some changes to your spending - but that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality goods at the Ashland Food Co-op.

These are some lesser known ways to save at the Co-op. Think of them like ordering off the secret menu. 

Savings Level: $

4 Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

It’s the New Year, our favorite time for goal-setting, making positive resolutions, and shifting our impact. One of the Co-op’s goals is to become a Zero Waste facility. Our staff works to divert as much food waste as we can - and we hope our member-owners will join us in this goal too.

Understanding CBD

The world of CBDs is continuing to grow, adding to our already vast assortment of medicine available, and sometimes adding to the questions we have about it. We asked our Wellness team to answer the five most common questions about CBD here at the Ashland Food Co-op.

How is CBD different from what I might find in a dispensary?

Meet Cooking Class Instructor Charlie Douglass

Many talented local chefs share their expertise in the Co-op Kitchen. Charlie Douglass is no exception. As the former Master Chocolatier at Harry and David, Charlie knows a thing or two about chocolate and candy making. 

Tell us how your love of cooking and food began.

Meet Cooking Class Instructor Tiazza Rose

From bread baking to Moroccan cooking, many talented local chefs share their expertise in the Co-op Kitchen. We'd like you to meet a few of them. Tiazza Rose has been teaching the Ashland community the art of Moroccan cooking for years. If you haven't taken a class from Tiazza yet, you should. Here's why.


Tell us how your love of cooking and food began.

Give the Gift of Wellness


Finding the perfect gift for a friend or loved one is an art. This winter, we carefully selected these assortments for those who love some good self-care, are working in partnership with their gut health, or for those making efforts to reduce their pain. Each of these gift ideas will help you make your loved ones feel extra special and extra healthful.