Minnesota on cutting edge of food supply

9:59 PM, Sep 23, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Every year in Minnesota millions of pounds of produce are wasted.

Some of it is never even harvested, but several local groups and companies are doing something to change that.

"We're really trying to figure out unique and innovative ways to find that fresh produce, capture it, get it out of the field, and get it in the families of those who need it," said Tony Mans, with Second Harvest Heartland.

Fresh produce is key to providing healthy, nutritious options to people who use food shelves. The problem in the past has been finding a way to get it distributed before it spoiled.

"So we're lowering the temperature of the corn so it has a shelf life, existence of about 14 days," says Ellie Lucas with Hunger Free Minnesota.

Hunger Free Minnesota and General Mills started the program last year. Farmers for Bird's Eye and Seneca donate their extra crops, Cargill cools the corn and loads it on to Supervalu trucks. The trucks bring the corn to Second Harvest Heartland, who distributes the produce to local food shelves. What we can't use here in Minnesota, gets sent to food shelves out of state. Feeding America and C. H. Robinson coordinate that effort.

This concept of harvesting unused crops for the emergency food system is fairly new and Minnesota is on the leading edge.

"What we're trying to do is design a system that can be replicated for other crops but also other parts of the country," said Mans.

This year the collaborative hopes to save 600,000 pounds of sweet corn from ending up in a landfill or from being plowed over.

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