CropMobster Gives Leftover Produce a Second Chance

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  • It seems we’ve been on a food waste kick lately, but for good reason, as more causes keep popping up to address this devastating problem, which is [unfortunately] unbeknownst to most.
  • Farm-to-[school, fork, city, chef] connects farmers and their fresh produce with individuals, businesses and organizations, but there are still the inevitable leftovers.  In comes CropMobster, a social media answer to unsold leftovers, using crowdsourcing to provide a second round of opportunity for farmers to sell — or sometimes donate — fruits and vegetables before they go bad.
  • This issue is starting to become prominent in the mindset of our culture.  About 40% of all food goes uneaten and over half of fruits and vegetables are wasted, yet one in six people suffer from food insecurity.  Another major issue is that 50% of small farms are losing money.
  • “We’ve got all this supply wasted, a huge amount of demand and the dots are not being connected,” said Nick Papadopoulos, general manager of Bloomfield Farms in California.
  • The rules are simple. In the counties served, farmers, ranchers or anyone with excess food can go to the site, post an alert, ask for a donation, offer a deal or give it away free. Papadopoulos and his team spend time helping people refine their message and they moderate the forum.
  • CropMobster quickly expanded from the original Bloomfield farm to 11 California counties and Papadopoulos said he has received requests from every state.
  • Farmers often are willing to donate foods to ensure it gets eaten. The generosity is paid back in new partners or customers. Hunger relief agencies can post what they need, and seniors are also getting involved.
  • The response has been a little overwhelming for Papadopoulos, who admitted the business side of the venture is less developed than the philanthropic side. There is no formal payment system between seller and buyer yet, and CropMobster pays its staff using a “tip jar” icon on the website.
  • The goal is to expand to all of California in the next 16 months. Papadopoulos has just finished a business plan and said he has significant interest from investors. He’s taking his pitch to organizations and groups everywhere he can.
BalancedHealthy POV:
  • 40% of all food is wasted?!  Can you even believe that?  Worldwide, that equates to 1.3 BILLION tonnes a year.  Wow.  This is a daunting task to take on and the companies spearheading this issue deserve a ton of respect.  However, the issue remains the same, which is that people don’t know to take action unless they know something is wrong.  Even as someone who follows food/health/wellness/etc… it was astonishing when I came across those numbers.  I was actively seeking out that information, whereas most people are not and might not even be exposed to those facts and/or the reality of the situation.  An awareness campaign would be a great tool to get the general population involved and educated about issues surrounding our food supply.  This is not an American problem or a Chinese problem, this is a problem that affects the entire world and happens all over the globe.
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