News & Events

Food for People: How Reducing Food Waste Benefits Everyone

Author: Lacy Cagle, City Greens Market



As a nonprofit neighborhood grocery store, City Greens Market understands that building lasting food security requires investing in the long-term sustainability and resilience of our local food ecosystem. We use the Food Waste Hierarchy to make decisions that reduce waste throughout our supply chain. Reducing waste means we can lower our greenhouse gas emissions footprint, reduce the cost of food for our customers and members, and get more nutritious food to people. 


Source Reduction: Reducing food waste requires starting from the source. At City Greens Market, we source as much as possible from local farmers and growers who use sustainable and humane growing methods. Local, sustainable sourcing helps us eliminate waste throughout the supply chain, from reducing harmful chemical runoff, to reducing emissions from foods being trucked or freighted hundreds of miles, to reducing food spoilage from produce spending many days cooped in storage crates as it’s being shipped across the continent. This also allows us to support regional food systems (and a local economy!) with every purchasing decision we make. 


We also follow best practices for food storage to reduce food waste, including keeping foods at the right temperature and humidity to keep them fresh as long as possible. With the equipment available to us now, that means using more plastic than we would like to keep root vegetables and leafy greens fresh. We recycle and reuse plastic containers whenever we can, and we are constantly experimenting with new ways to keep food fresh and reduce our waste even more.


At home, you can reduce food waste by buying only what you need so veggies don’t languish in the back of your produce drawer until they’re unrecognizable and milk doesn’t spoil before you use it. This also can save you lots of money! We also recommend creating a meal plan and shopping list while in your kitchen so you can better determine what you need. Try to buy food with as little packaging as possible, and bring your own bags and containers with you when you shop.


Feed Hungry People: We do whatever we can to get fresh, quality food to people first. Our staff and volunteers process food that would not get sold while fresh. They blanch and freeze fresh fruits, make croutons from bread past its peak freshness, and make soups with wilted greens. Processing this food means we can sell at-peak frozen produce at a discount, make delicious and nutritious stocks and soups, and offer free samples of unique foods. We also have a free shelf, where we offer past-prime-but-still-edible food to anyone who wants or needs it , regardless of their membership status. This could include things like bruised tomatoes, limp carrots, or wrinkled eggplants. 


At home, you can make sure all available food  is used by freezing, canning, or pickling excess produce; toasting stale (but not moldy!) bread to use as bread crumbs; making broth out of veggie scraps and meat bones; and refreshing wilted greens with an ice water bath.


Animal Feed and Industrial Use: Because we do a great job of preserving food, we don’t actually do a lot with this step. Occasionally, we offer leftover soup bones or freezer-burned meat to members who request it for their dogs. 


Compost: As a last resort, anything that cannot be sold or donated goes into our compost bin. We also have a compost subscription program so our members can drop off their food scraps at our market. Composting diverts beneficial food waste away from landfills, repairs soil health, contributes to biodiversity, and restores integrity in the nutrient cycle. Total Organics Recycling uses their industrial-sized compost piles to process our organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. We then get that compost back to enrich our herb garden! In this way, composting closes the nutrient loop by allowing decaying food to nourish the soil instead of creating methane (a potent greenhouse gas!) by being trapped in a landfill. 


Because Total Organics Recycling composts on an industrial scale, we can compost things that you wouldn’t be able to compost in your backyard bin, including dairy products, processed foods, and compostable containers. But your backyard bin can easily handle produce scraps, eggs, shredded paper, and shredded cardboard, making a nutrient-rich soil amendment for free!


Reducing waste across the supply chain makes for a more sustainable, more equitable, and more cost-effective food system, whether you’re a grocery store like us or you’re minimizing waste in your own home. 



City Greens Market is a 501c3 nonprofit grocery store located at 4260 Manchester Ave. in The Grove. Founded in 2016, the Market’s mission is to provide access to fresh, quality, and affordable produce to all of their neighbors, to promote healthy living in the community, and to provide a welcoming and comfortable space for their members to interact. Find out more at

Matt, a City Greens Market volunteer and chef, cooks a delicious squash and ginger soup using produce that would otherwise go bad (Photo credit: Jackie Kinealy)
Diana, a City Greens Market employee, demonstrates how the Free Shelf works at City Greens. (Photo credit: Jackie Kinealy)