Fifty Percent of Food is Wasted? - theHumm March 2022

Fifty Percent of Food is Wasted? - theHumm March 2022

By David Hinks

I find it shocking to read reports revealing that as much as fifty percent of the food we grow is wasted. As someone deeply concerned about the level of food insecurity in our society, I find this level of waste totally incongruous in a country where one family in eight grapples with food insecurity.

Not only is this a bad news story vis-à-vis food security — there are also major negative effects for our climate emergency. The resources — water, fuel, chemicals and human effort — that are used to grow this food are wasted. But a much more insidious impact is what happens to those millions of tonnes of food waste that go to landfill. Food waste eventually breaks down and produces methane — a powerful greenhouse gas.

This seems to me to be such a “no-brainer” — let’s be better stewards of the food we produce; let’s direct more of it to those who need it; and let’s keep any waste food out of landfill. End result? Reduction in food insecurity and hunger and a reduction in greenhouse gas production.

So where in the food chain is all this food wasted? Estimates in various studies are all over the map — one surprising study calculated that almost half of the waste takes place in the home of consumers; waste on the farm is 10%; processing, transportation and distribution another 25%; and retail 10%.

Certainly one can quibble over definitions and methodology and what the actual percentage might be, but the inescapable truth is that a criminal amount of food waste takes place. Given my penchant for voraciously consuming detective novels, I decided to do a bit of sleuthing on the local level to grapple with who is guilty of all this waste.

I started my investigation by talking to local vegetable growers and a couple of food retailers in Mississippi Mills.

Vegetable farmers Scott and Marissa of Indian Creek Orchard Gardens commit to supply over 200 clients with a weekly veggie box. In order to guarantee this, they have to plant a fair number of extra plants to ensure the boxes will be full (given the vagaries of Mother Nature). So what do they do with any extra produce? Their first option is to sell it at the Almonte Farmers’ Market, their second is to donate to the Lanark County Food Bank, their third is to feed it to their chickens, and the final option is to compost it on their land. Bottom line? None of the food produced goes to landfill!

Sharon at Dandelion Foods states that produce that is approaching its “best before” date is marked down to half-price; if that strategy doesn’t work, a weekly donation is made to the Lanark County Food Bank; and produce that is too far gone is sent to a local farmer for his pigs. Basically, no produce goes to landfill!

Guido from Patrice’s Your Independent Grocer has a similar approach. Food that is close to its “best before” date is put on the fifty percent shelf, regular donations are made to the Food Bank, and the remaining food waste is directed to an in-house system (ORCA) that digests food waste into a liquid that is directed to the municipal waste treatment plant. Again, none of the food waste goes to landfill.

For its part, the Lanark County Food Bank is always happy to receive food donations. As you might imagine, donations are not always at the peak of quality. Expired products are discarded; however, this affects very few products — mainly baby formula and meal supplements (such as Boost or Ensure). Karen notes that “best before” dates are relatively arbitrary — Food Banks Canada advises that food can be handed out that is up to a year past its “best before” date. About two to three percent of all the food donated becomes food waste — it is donated to farmers to feed their pigs and goats.

I am led to conclude from this investigation that the perpetrators are you and me! As in any investigation, it is important try to find a motive. Perhaps we have a tendency to stockpile, take advantage of great bargains on a truckload of salad at Costco, not store food appropriately (pretty easy to freeze some), find it too much of a bother to donate to food banks, don’t take the time to sort food waste from other garbage, or just lose track of leftovers in the fridge.

My spouse and I, on a fairly regular basis, have a discussion over whether leftovers that have been carefully stored in plastic containers in the fridge pass the sniff test. Fortunately, her “sniffer” is much more sensitive than mine.

Many consumers are confused by best before dates and automatically toss food as it approaches that date. However, this only refers to the quality of the food when it will be at peak quality — food does not necessarily become unsafe after the best before date! Of course, this does not apply to perishable foods such as meats and dairy that must be eaten, refrigerated or frozen when you get home from the store.

Food waste does not belong in landfill — it will generate methane gas, which is one of the worst greenhouse gases. With few exceptions (such as meat and dairy), most waste food can be safely composted. If you are not comfortable composting yet, there is a lot of help out there — workshops, lectures or even YouTube videos!

If you don’t have a backyard with room for a compost bin, you might consider lobbying your landlord or your local municipal council to set up a composting program, or perhaps suggest sharing a composter with a friend who has a backyard.


Michael Neelin —The Art of Appreciating Your Surroundings - theHumm March 2022

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

When you can’t decide which you enjoy more — creating your art or doing your job — you’ve made some exceptionally wise decisions in your life. Residential designer and illustrator Michael Neelin of McDonalds Corners would be hard pressed to pick between the two. Neelin capitalizes on his exceptional drawing abilities in both pursuits, and both tie in with his passion for sharing the natural beauty and rich architectural heritage of the Ottawa Valley.

As a gift......


Studio Theatre Presents Shirley Valentine - theHumm March 2022

Putting on plays while a pandemic rages has its challenges, but Studio Theatre Perth is once again rising to that challenge and is proud to present Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, opening in late March.

Often described as a “chick play”, Shirley Valentine is so much more than that, according to Jane Stott, Studio Theatre Perth’s artistic director and the director of this play.

“It’s really a play for everyone. A lot of the things that Shirley Valentine talks about affect......


Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Folkus Presents Julian Taylor with Catriona Sturton
- theHumm March 2022

By Sandy Irvin

March is the month where winter gets to feeling a little long. We know the light is coming, but it’s getting hard to hold on. It’s the month where something a little soulful, a little tender and a little blue fits the bill. On March 26, we are very lucky to bring two talented artists to the Folkus stage who have spent years on their overnight success.

Julian Taylor is a songwriter at the top of his game, garnering a recent CFMA Solo Artist of the year, and a Polaris Prize nomination for 2021......


BOTR is Back at The Cove - theHumm March 2022

Great news — Blues On The Rideau is returning to The Cove in Westport this spring! With the pandemic slowly staring to ease and restrictions being lifted in Ontario, organizers are very pleased to announce that the Blues On The Rideau Dinner & Show fundraiser series will be bringing three dynamic blues bands to The Cove Inn this spring.

All shows include a delicious dinner, an evening of great live blues and some terrific door prizes, plus a chance to win a grand prize a......


Maple Weekend Returns! - theHumm March 2022

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Lanark & District Maple Syrup Producers’ Association (LDMSPA) is very pleased to announce that Maple Weekend is returning on April 2 and 3.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this fun, Canadian event once again this year,” says President Jamie Fortune. “After two years we are so excited to be able to welcome visitors to our sugar bushes again and celebrate the sweetest time of the year in Lanark & District.”

Maple Weekend is a fun t......


Exploring Canada’s Wilderness with Adam Shoalts
A Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust Presentation
- theHumm March 2022

The Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) has invited well-known explorer, adventurer, conservationist and bestselling author Adam Shoalts to share stories of his expeditions in Canada’s wilderness with its members in association with its Annual General Meeting. Adam will talk about the importance of preserving wild places — from remote hinterlands to places closer to home. 

Best known for his long solo canoe journeys, including crossing nearly 4,000km of Canada’s Arctic alone, ......


A 50-Year Walk Through the Sugar Bush - theHumm March 2022

By Ray Fortune,Fortune Farms Maple Sugar Bush

Finally, warmer weather has arrived in February and the first hint of spring is in the air. This signals to us that the maple syrup season is about to begin again, and at Fortune Farms we are busy getting ready to tap the trees.

It is now fifty years since we purchased this maple sugar bush from the McIntosh family and continued their maple syrup operation. Much has changed over that time. A new generation of the family is now in charge, so Ruth and I may now sit back and watch our children, gran......


Ask a Busy Person
A Tribute to Mike Macpherson
- theHumm March 2022

By Glenda Jones, with thanks to Mary Vandenhoff, Don Johnson and Jean Macpherson

It’s rare to find a gentle soul as quiet, determined, smiling, capable and successful as the late Mike Macpherson. Mike could be defined as the consummate volunteer that any organization would be honoured to have on its roster. It’s little wonder that the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) has chosen to dedicate the 2022 Birdhouse Bonanza Auction to his memory.

Mike was a founding member of the Land Trust board in 2003, supporting a favourite cause of preserving......


The Power of Puppets - theHumm March 2022

By Heather Phaneuf

Where did you first encounter a puppet, or better yet, when did a puppet first find you?

Time’s right to consider these burning questions as anticipation is growing for the 2022 Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival scheduled for the balmy days of August 12–14 in Almonte. Pay close attention to the growing burble in that community — you’ll pick up quickly on those energetic volunteers who are busily planning, producing, fundraising and fun-raising, all in the name of exception......


Winter… - theHumm March 2022

By Susie Osler

The snow has closed 123 kilometres of highway between Sharbot Lake and Ottawa. To my knowledge this has not happened in the 21 years I’ve lived here. Looking out my window, the snow spirits swirl like dervishes — dancing and twisting wildness around the house. Old Man Winter rattles the thin glass panes that safeguard me with the slimmest of barriers. He interrupts cushion-covered coziness; calling for Fear to attend to him. I note the impulses that arise — to check my phone, pour a glass of wine, ru......


Algonquin Nation: A Land Claim Webinar - theHumm March 2022

The Algonquins have lived in harmony with the Ottawa River watershed for thousands of years. When European explorers first arrived, they brought opportunities for trade and alliances, nation to nation. A Royal Proclamation in 1763 by King George III, recognized that Indigenous Peoples were owners of this land, and any expansion of settlement required a treaty. Nevertheless, the government gradually allowed — indeed encouraged — settlers to simply overtake it for their own purposes. Des......


Art Space Seeks Donations - theHumm March 2022

Concave Gallery, located in Code’s Mill in downtown Perth, recently opened their Calm Unity Art Space. This is a safe and open creator space for members of the community to come and explore their artistic side, or just hang out for some company and conversation.

Gallery owners are asking artists in the area to bring any gently-used or abandoned project materials into the gallery so that they can offer free art supplies to those who, for whatever reason, don’t have access to materials.


Be an Early Bird Bluejay
Get Your Puppets Up Passes Now and Save!
- theHumm March 2022

Humm headquarters got a frantic and flappy phone call recently from one of our favourite feathered friends. Jacob Bluejay wanted to tell us that he had brokered a special deal on Day Passes to the Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival , scheduled for August 12–14 of this year. He was chirping so excitedly that we asked if we could email him some questions instead. Once we deciphered his chicken-scratching, this is w......


Spring Fling Art Show - theHumm March 2022

Spring is the season of creation, and to celebrate, West Carleton Arts Society (WCAS) is once again presenting its Spring Fling Art Show at the Kanata Civic Art Gallery, located at 2500 Campeau Road.

Taking place from March 7–20, this year’s show will feature works by 27 talented local artists in a variety of media. “This is always a fun show,” says Anne Moore, WCAS Shows Director. “We have watercolour, oil and acrylic paintings, as well as photography and mixed me......


Just When the Contest Ends… - theHumm March 2022

The Olympics are over, the tears dried, and the best athletes have gone home without a medal. Is that what we could have expected? The Almonte Lecture on March 25 might offer some insight into that assumption. Warren Thorngate, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, has often delved into the machinations of the human psyche to discover anomalies we have not considered. His lecture, entitled “Why the Best Person Rarely Wins”, could offer some possible explanations for the conundrum known as the Olympics.

Warren Thorngate has presented several fascinating courses for Learning in Almonte, de......


Funny on the Page
A Comedy-Writing Workshop
- theHumm March 2022

Learn the basics of short form comedy writing (skits, sketches and short plays) with Rob and Kris Riendeau from Humm Team Productions. Rob wrote the script for Who Stole Christmas from Mississipp......


Climate Day of Action - theHumm March 2022

On Saturday, March 12, Lanark County Warden John Fenik will attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Perth Town Hall (80 Gore St. E., Perth). Area residents are invited to attend the 11am opening ......


Fifty Percent of Food is Wasted? - theHumm March 2022

By David Hinks

I find it shocking to read reports revealing that as much as fifty percent of the food we grow is wasted. As someone deeply concerned about the level of food insecurity in our society, I find thi......


MVTM Dye Garden - theHumm March 2022

The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum (MVTM) is pleased to announce that this spring it will be starting a dye garden, located at the Blakeney Project farm site. The museum is very grateful to th......


March Madness - theHumm March 2022

By Glenda Jones

Oh no, here it comes again! That spring itch, the desire for something new, something not monochromatic, and something without the film that’s accumulated over the winter when the sun is low and ......