RENEWAL: Our Relationship with Food & the 4th R of Recycling

by | Mar 9, 2022 | Community, Environment, Food Waste, Hunger Relief

To renew means to make like new. Renewal is the process of restoring freshness and reviving something that already existed. 

Spring is a time of new beginnings. It is a time of renewal. In the natural world, Spring is marked by the first buds, blossoms, and sprouting growth that breaks ground and begins life anew. It is also a time for us to reflect on what we have and forget to cherish wholeheartedly all too often. We must renew our perspective and appreciation for all that life has given us.

Like spring cleaning or opening our windows and letting in a little fresh air (and perspective), renewal isn’t about having an unsustainable “out with the old and in with a new” outlook. It’s not about taking more. Instead, renewal in today’s climate means (or should mean) to take stock of what we have and give it new meaning, life, and purpose. It means that we appreciate and love what we have—the bird in the hand—, rather than always wanting more or something else and tossing out the rest.    

Renewal can apply to too many topics today. But we’re specifically talking about renewing three topics, all of which are related: renewing our food systems, renewing the original and sole purpose of food, and renewing our brand to reflect and unite our nationwide efforts. It is time that we renew our relationship with and our respect for food.

Renewing our Relationship With Food in Canada

RENEWAL: Our Relationship with Food & the 4th R of Recycling is to Renew

The first is our broken food systems in developed countries. When it comes to food production in Canada, there is an unsustainable overproduction mentality. It is expected that there will be a considerable loss and waste of food on both the pre- and post-production side of our food systems. These systems require radical overhauls from legislation to methodologies at all levels of production, distribution, retail, and consumption to make real impactful change. 

The second is renewing our relationship with food, especially surplus food that already exists but will likely go to waste. Because we cannot change our broken food systems overnight, there needs to be a stop-gap. Millions of pounds of food that would have been sent to waste in landfills must be rescued, redistributed to those who need it, and the original purpose of the food must be renewed. A carrot, for instance, that wilted is still a carrot that should be eaten. Put it in a soup and its sole purpose to nourish our lives and bodies has been restored.

At Second Harvest, we asked: What if we could restore the original purpose of produce by rescuing the food before it goes to waste, or dies on the vine or in the ground, and redistributing it? What if we could renew food’s original purpose: to be eaten and to give healthy nourishment to our bodies and minds? After all, we grow plenty of food in Canada and still millions of Canadians struggle to put food on their tables—one in seven Canadians are food insecure since the pandemic, to be precise. 

The third is Second Harvest’s own renewal. Since our grassroots beginnings in 1985 in Toronto, we have expanded across the country to become Canada’s largest food rescue organization, rescuing and redistributing surplus food to millions of Canadians every day. As we tackle Canada’s growing food waste and hunger—and represent Canada as thought leaders in food recovery on the global stage, we knew that it was time for us to renew and refresh our brand and unite our national identity. 

The 4th R in Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is Renew

The 3R’s of recycling is to reduce, reuse, and recycle. As kids, we learned to reduce our waste, reuse what we can, and then eventually, recycle it, breaking it down into smaller parts. This can also apply to our food systems, not just plastic waste, objects, and other material stuff. 

When it comes to food, we must reduce our overconsumption and overproduction. We can reuse foods that we already have by eating our leftovers and getting creative with what we have in our kitchens. And we can recycle our food waste, breaking down scraps into compost or using the coffee grains as nutrients for acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, for instance. 

What if There is a Fourth “R” as it Relates to Food: To Renew

RENEWAL: Our Relationship with Food & the 4th R of Recycling is to Renew

If a shipment of lettuce is starting wilt in transport to the retailer, it will likely go to the landfill as food loss and waste either by the distributor, the retailer, or the consumer. That has a high environmental price, not only the loss of the resources (including time, water, soil, nutrients, fertilizers, sun, labour, and money) that it took to grow that lettuce and ship it to the distributors and grocers, but also the harmful greenhouse gases it emits when it all goes to waste.

But, if Second Harvest intercepts that food waste, rescuing the lettuce that is still deliciously edible, healthy, and nutritious, and delivers it to folks who can renew its purpose of being eaten, then that is a blessing. It’s a second chance. It gives us a bit more time to fix our broken food systems that overproduce and undervalue food in the first place. Plus, we can feed the growing number of people who don’t have access to healthy food choices.  

That is exactly what we do at Second Harvest. We take perfectly healthy and delicious surplus food and save it from going to waste. We ship millions of tonnes of rescued food across Canada to communities in need. Once it’s arrived, our agency partners, such as soup kitchens, community kitchens, schools, programs and other nonprofit organizations, turn that food into prepared meals that feed the community. Food’s purpose is renewed. 

Renewing Second Harvest’s Brand to Reflect our Expanded Mission

Second Harvest Brand Refresh

Since the pandemic, Canada saw a tremendous need for food donations. In fact, 6.7 million Canadians accessed food from nonprofit organizations. As the need for food rose, so did the demand. As a result, there are now four times more food charities in Canada than grocery stores—and they needed help. 

Second Harvest doubled-down during the pandemic. With the help of over 4,500 dedicated food donors, 900 communities and over 3,000 not for profit organizations, we were able to expand across the country to support 350 communities through over 2,300 social service organizations, and launch our food rescue app

Today, Second Harvest proudly supports the entire country as Canada’s largest food recovery organization. It is in this spirit of renewal, that Second Harvest launches its new, united, and national brand. It is important that we represent Canadians and inspire real change as we fight food waste and hunger in our country from the ground up to the legislature and policies.

Introducing Second Harvest’s New Brand Refresh

The new brand is a refresh of our existing Second Harvest logo, alongside three green icons that represent our growth. Each circle of growth is unique and connected to the next. Together they represent the important aspects of Second Harvest’s mission:

  • Introduce new ideas and innovative ways of thinking.
  • Create and build the tools to affect change and transform how we care for the planet.
  • Seek people who are inspired to find ways to rescue and renew food and avoid waste.

Our new logo font is a modern font in lower case that we believe is open, friendly, welcoming, and reflects our growing position on the world stage as we renew our collective relationship with and respect for food. 

Renew our relationship with food - Second Harvest brand refresh

Learn more about how you can renew your relationship with food in Canada.

Holiday Stuffing Muffins

Holiday Stuffing Muffins

The following recipe was supplied by the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs for the Second Harvest Cookbook, which featured 70 recipes from our network of over 500 partner agencies. All recipes feature a dish that staff, volunteers or community members prepared...