Small bites: Ending food waste in WNC

NO SENSE WASTING: Meg Chamberlain, co-owner of Fermenti, says whether you’re a consumer, grocery retail owner or farmer, there are plenty of options to avoid food waste. “Taking vegetables that are near the end of their sellable life span and fermenting them,” she notes, is one such alternative to the landfill. Photo by Daniela Guerrero Photo by Daniela Guerrero

Since 2017, Food Waste Reduction and Recovery WNC has held quarterly meetings throughout the the state’s westernmost counties as part of its ongoing mission to unite, educate and support communities in ending food waste and food insecurity. On Saturday, Feb. 23, the group will continue its efforts with a gathering at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Services building in Marshall.

Meg Chamberlain, co-owner of Fermenti and the event’s co-organizer, says the February meeting will pick up where previous conversations left off. “A lot of what we’ve discussed in the last year has been about composting,” she says. “I’m also a very strong advocate for buying your produce and your food with the intention of fermenting and preserving it.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, each year roughly 30-40 percent of the country’s food supply gets tossed into landfills. Meanwhile, an estimated 41 million Americans (including 13 million children) face hunger annually. These two statistics, notes Chamberlain, fuel much of the organization’s drive.

Jessie Koonz of Beacon of Hope, a nonprofit that offers food and emergency financial assistance to low-income families and individuals in Madison County, will be the event’s guest speaker. The evening will also include a no-waste potluck dinner. Along with shared dishes, guests are encouraged to bring their own plates, containers, eating utensils and napkins.

Chamberlain says she hopes those who attend the event leave “feeling empowered that they can be the change that they want to be.” Ending food waste, she adds, “is not as daunting or as overwhelming as it sometimes may feel. Small efforts, when combined, can add up to big effects.”

The meeting runs 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at N.C. Cooperative Extension Services, 258 Carolina Lane, Marshall. The event is free to attend. To learn more, visit

Food scraps essay contest

Speaking of food waste, the Transylvania County Solid Waste Department, in partnership with the Use Food Scraps Symposium, has a question for residents of WNC: How can our communities use food scraps differently to extend the life of our landfills? If you’ve got ideas for solutions, consider entering the group’s essay contest. The competition includes categories for ages 9 and younger, 10-15, 16-22, 23-35, and 36 and older. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three entries per category, with $50 going to the first-place winner. Essays must be 700 words or less. The deadline is Thursday, Feb. 28. Contestants need not live in Transylvania County.

Entries must include name, phone number and age category. Submit work via email to or mail/drop off to Transylvania County Landfill, Attn: Kenn Webb, Solid Waste Director, 500 Howell Road, Brevard, NC 28712. For more, visit

Soul food dinner

To honor Black History Month, Hopkins Chapel AME Zion Church will host a soul food dinner on Saturday, Feb. 23. The evening’s theme, Black Migrations in the Asheville Community, will feature a talk by minister and certified life coach Rodney L. Johnson, as well as gospel singing led by Regina Blount and performed by the Mars Hill University Gospel Choir. Menu details were not available at press time.

The program begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Delta House of Asheville, 218 S. French Broad Ave. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students ages 10  and younger. To purchase, email or call 828-230-9192.

Asheville Pizza Fight

Asheville Food Fan Stu Helm will host the Asheville Pizza Fight on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Asheville Masonic Temple. The free event will feature 12 local competitors vying for the title of Best Pizza in Asheville. A panel of five judges will determine an overall winner as well as winners in the categories of best cheese and best freestyle. Attendees can purchase slices of the competing pies during the event. All proceeds will benefit the preservation and restoration of the Asheville Masonic Temple’s historic theater backdrops.

The competition runs 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway. For more, visit

Community Spotlight Night

Southside Rising, a local organization that works to reclaim community culture in Asheville’s historically African-American Southside neighborhood, will host its inaugural Community Spotlight Night on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The evening will feature soul food prepared by chef Iindia Pearson, along with youth and community open mic performances. Plates are $5.

Community Spotlight Night runs 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Edington Center, 133 Livingston St. For more, visit

Slow Food Asheville Happy Hour

Slow Food Asheville, a local chapter of the international Slow Food movement, will host its first 2019 Happy Hour event at plēb urban winery. The event will include free appetizers, a wine tasting and a discussion, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility.

Happy Hour runs 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at plēb urban winery, 289 Lyman St. The event is free to attend. For more information, visit

12 Bones opens new south location

For the past two years, 12 Bones has been on the move. Its flagship eatery relocated to The Foundation in the River Arts District in February 2017. And earlier this month, its former Sweeten Creek location moved to Hendersonville Road and is now serving lunch. According to marketing manager Grace McIntire, the South Asheville site is now finalizing its alcohol permit and private event space. The outdoor patio will be available later this spring, and the restaurant’s brewing operation will likely open next month. The recent government shutdown, McIntire notes, delayed the permitting process.

12 Bones South is at 2350 Hendersonville Road. Hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; takeout is available 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, visit

Breakfast at Benne on Eagle

Benne on Eagle, the latest concept from Rhubarb and The Rhu owner and chef John Fleer, is now serving breakfast. Menu highlights include lacy cornmeal pancakes with maple-sorghum syrup and Benne Benedict with Benne Biscuit, Benton’s ham and kitchen pepper hollandaise.

Breakfast runs 7-10:30 a.m. daily at Benne on Eagle, 35 Eagle St. For more information, visit


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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One thought on “Small bites: Ending food waste in WNC

  1. think critically

    I applaud the efforts to reduce food waste, it is sickening that so much is thrown away while so many are hungry. Actually, it would be sickening even if no one was hungry, because wasted food means wasted resources which means a larger carbon footprint, more soil erosion, more water use, etc.

    That said, we also need to look at the big picture. Just like recycling is a good thing but not consuming so much in the first place is even better, eating foods that are produced with minimal waste is most efficient. Animal agriculture is the ultimate form of food waste, as it’s responsible for the most losses of all harvested crops. This is because most crops fed to farmed animals are lost – meaning they are burned up by the animals to power their own bodies, and therefore don’t end up in human stomachs.

    Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel researchers refer to the resulting massive pre-consumer loss as the “opportunity food loss” of animal agriculture – and it’s larger than completely eliminating all conventional food losses in the United States. When you cycle plant proteins through farmed animals, you lose the following percentages of the protein (opportunity food losses):

    Beef: 96%

    Pork: 90%

    Dairy: 75%

    Poultry: 50%

    Eggs: 40%

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