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

Top 15 Things to Do in Ashland (When It's Smoky)

Ashland is a paradise for the outdoors - but sometimes Mother Nature has different plans for us.

When smoke from wildfires becomes an issue, there are still plenty of great activities to enjoy around our wonderful town. Check out this list for some inspiration!

AFC Celebrates 20 Years with Magnolia Farms

This year, the Ashland Food Co-op proudly celebrates their 20 year partnership with Magnolia Farms. Their pasture raised, no antibiotics, no hormones lamb is a staple in the Co-op Meat Department. Magnolia Farms is graciously donating the lamb for our August First Friday in celebration of our long standing partnership.

Compostable Bags

The Co-op has been asked if compostable plastic bags are a viable alternative to the standard plastic bags offered in the produce and meat departments. 

For several reasons, compostable bags are not in line with the Co-op’s goals and standards. 

Not compostable at home

Sustainability Update: Energy efficiency and zero waste

Energy Efficiency
We are happy to announce that we are a member of the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management program. This is a free program available to customers of Avista and Pacific Power, which offers awesome incentives including a paid internship!

Meet the 2019 Board of Directors

Congratulations to Annie Hoy, Melina Barker, Lisa Beam, and Steve Bowman for their election to the Board of Directors! We were delighted to have such a strong slate of candidates to fill our four vacancies. You can read more about each new director here.

How to stay sustainable with paper products

Have you thought about how sustainable your paper home products are? While the use of single-use plastics has (rightfully) been criticized, some products are made to be single-use - like toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins. With these products, it’s best to examine sustainability by looking at what goes into their production.

Board elections are open!

We are grateful for the engaged community that supports the Ashland Food Co-op. We're a grocery store owned by you (with a few thousand of your friends). But your ownership isn't just coupons and discount; you help shape the future of the Co-op through the election of the Board of Directors.

This year, seven candidates are nominated for four board positions: two will serve a three-year term; one will serve a two-year term; and one will serve a one-year term. Additionally, the current board has proposed three by-law changes for approval.

Farm Tour on the Shelves

The Farm Tour shines a spotlight on Southern Oregon - it represents the full range of products grown in the Rogue Valley. The Farm Tour isn't until July 14, but here's a list of tour activities for participating farms that are also on the shelves at the Ashland Food Co-op. Get an early taste of quality local goods!

Planning for Summer... and Smoke

By Emile Amarotico, General Manager

If we are lucky, we’ll only have another seven week smoke intrusion this summer. If we are not, we could be the next Paradise. In less than 13 hours, last November’s Camp Fire wiped out nearly 19,000 structures and more than 80 lives. With community help, we were able to raise over $14,000 to support Chico Natural Foods Co-op’s efforts to feed some of the nearly 20,000 displaced Paradise residents.

The Co-op's "Secret Garden"

Did you know the Co-op employees have a small garden on our campus? Planning and management falls on our fantastic Co-op volunteer: Henry Herting.

Below, Henry shares some background on the garden, what it’s used for, and some additional tales from over the years.

Originally, the need for a kitchen garden arose from having a kitchen classroom in which culinary classes were being held. Visiting chefs have always been invited to use the garden for any ingredients they may have forgotten or items they could use as garnish for their dishes.


Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen

By Mahlea Rasmussen, Education Coordinator

Outside of work I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I find it a soothing space to create nourishing meals and lasting memories. I find it essential to be as eco-friendly as possible and a few changes can transform your kitchen into a sustainable center of your home.

Earth Day Bulk Sale! April 17-21

Save money while working towards a more sustainable shopping experience! The Co-op bulk department is a great "first stop" for your grocery lists - everything from hummus mix to local honey to pet food is available. Plus there's less waste, all the way from shipping to ended up in your shopping cart. 

Check out a quick tour below:

Film festival giveaway

Enter your name and email below to be entered to win two film vouchers for the 2019 Ashland Independent Film Festival.

No purchase necessary. Giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by AIFF. US residents only. Entry will be closed at 5pm PT on Monday, April 15.