Dome Grown Harvest Bucks Grand Prize

The final week of the Rethink Food Waste Challenge is about to begin. The challenge began on May 14th: 213 households signed up to participate! Learn more about the challenge here.

Folks who entered their wasted food data for at least 3 of the 4 weeks of the challenge will be entered into the grand prize drawings. 2 people will win $440 worth of Harvest Bucks from Dome Grown Produce!

$440 is a lot to spend at the Farmer’s Market. We know! And we just learned lots about how not to waste food. So you have some options.

—Eat your heart out! And preserve those veggies. Canned goods make great gifts, after all. Or freeze it for future use!
—Give a card or two away to your friends.
—Donate a card to a food-related cause. Check out the Grow and Give Program through the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance. HDFFA works with NeighborImpact to get fresh produce to folks who need it. Because everyone deserves access to fresh and healthy food.
—Donate a card to the Family Kitchen whose mission it is to serve anyone who needs a nutritious meal in a safe and caring environment.


Dome Grown Harvest Bucks Grand Prize


If you’ve dined with small children lately, you probably noticed they wasted food. Like a lot. It goes with the territory, and it can be rough sometimes. Abstract things like money, waste, hunger, food justice, etc., can be difficult to explain to small children. You just have to do the best you can. Here are some tips from my experience with a 5 year old.

DON’T make them clean their plate. That’s old school and while it may prevent waste, it doesn’t teach healthy eating habits. Serve small portions, they can always have more.

DO ask them to be a Food Hero and try new things. Food Heroes don’t have to like it, they just have to try it. And since their taste buds are still developing, they literally have to try something over 10 times to actually be open to liking it. This encourages good eating habits, and prevents waste in the long run. It also gets me in the habit of serving what we’re eating to her, plus stuff I know she likes. I serve in small portions knowing that she can be picky, and has a varying appetite. If she eats it all, great she can have more. If she doesn’t like it, we usually end up eating it and serve our portions accordingly, knowing we’ll be supplementing with her food.

DON’T cut off the crust. {I’m talking to my husband here}. Sometimes our kiddo eats the crust, mostly she doesn’t. I don’t make her eat it, but I’m not going to let her think it’s normal to have a sandwich with no crust. She sometimes makes deals that if I buy soft white bread she’ll eat the crust off that, which I sometimes give in to, for that exact reason. But sometimes, she realizes she doesn’t mind the crust, regardless of what kind of bread it is.

DO cut off other things that make sense. If I leave the tops on strawberries, only half of it is eaten. If I expertly slice off the greens, she downs the strawberry, so I’ll take the extra effort on that one. Keep an eye out on what prep you could do that helps them eat the good stuff.

DO plan to make use of their leftovers when possible. The apple with a ring around the outside has made it into the following day’s smoothie. (If I slice it ahead of time she won’t eat it as it’s brown by lunch time. I’m going to experiment with this by drizzling lemon sometime to see if she likes that, and next time I have oranges in the house I’ll pair apple slices with orange slices to keep them fresher looking). Her unfinished dinner, if it’s something she liked and was an unfinished second helping, is her leftover lunch.

DO ask your kids to help with meal prep, including lunches for school. It gets them more likely to eat healthy food if they were involved in prepping/cooking it. Prep as much as possible so they can easily access the food quickly and without assistance (a reusable bag/container is easier to open than a packaged snack bag, plus you don’t have all the packaging waste, and if they don’t eat it all they can have it the next day).

DO offer fruit first. In an effort to encourage healthy eating habits (and so the perishables don’t spoil) get in the habit of offering fresh fruit first, before packaged/processed food. This can be as an after school snack, or after bed when they’re suddenly hungry even though they were “full” from barely eating their dinner!? Our rule is our kid can have fruit most any time, and that’s generally the only thing they can have after dinner and/or before bed.

Check out this list of food waste prevention tips with kids.

Do you have any tips about preventing food waste with kids? Let us know in the comments!

We are entering into week 3 of the rethink food waste challenge! This week’s theme is Prep Smarter.

Tip #1: Prep It Now

If you are using your Shop Smarter Menu Plan, you hopefully have an idea of what  figure out if there is anything you can prepare right now.  When you get home from the store, wash, dry, chop, dice, slice and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking. Don’t put it off, just do it now. 

Image result for chopped vegetables in fridge

In this vein, if you prep the food intended for snacking, you will be more likely to reach for those cut and ready to dip carrots rather than the junk in the cupboard. Smart Prep is good for your health, too! Healthy eating is important and highly encouraged. However, I did just learn a very interesting fact that healthy eaters tend to waste more food. Check out this article all about it. If you want all the nitty-gritty, here is the actual scientific paper from  How should this be combatted? Smart shopping and smart prep! Have a plan for that healthy produce in your fridge.

Tip #2: Batch cooking

Cut your time spent preparing food each week by batch cooking entire meals ahead of time that can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Try making a big pot of soup and freezing it in individual serving sizes!

Tip #3: What does your family like to eat?

Keep a running list of meals that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose a meal to prepare.

Tip #4: Befriend your freezer!

Rely on your freezer – but remember what you froze. The china marker I mentioned last week is great for labeling or you can use tape and a marker! Or you can keep a list on the front of the freezer and easily know what’s in there. This will help you plan meals, save money and reduce waste.

  • Label what you put in your freezer.
  • Keep a list of what’s in there, too!
  • Slice up the rest of that loaf of bread and use it a little bit at a time.
  • Chop up the fruit that you don’t have time to eat and put it in the freezer, ready for a smoothie.

Tip #5: Learn to “quick pickle”!

Pickling sounds intimidating, but it’s SO EASY!

Advanced pickling: fermented vegetables!

Already mastered the quick pickle? How about learning to make some sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables?

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is about to embark on Week 3 (May 28-June 3). The challenge began on May 14th: 213 households signed up to participate! Learn more about the challenge here.

If you enter your week’s wasted food data, you will automatically be entered in the prize drawing, which will happen on Tuesday, June 5.

Check out this week’s prizes:

RFWC Week 3 Prizes

Draw #1: $100 gift card to the grocery store of your choice and a set of 3 nesting stainless steel food storage containers.

Draw #2: A set of 4 Oxo nesting glass containers with snapping lids and a set of 3 etee beeswax wraps.

Draw #3: A set of 3 reusable Chico Bag produce bags and a red hydroflask food flask.

The age of technology means we have an utterly overwhelming supply of information at our fingertips. Sometimes it’s a bane, but often a blessing! I just found some food on the verge of going bad that needs to be used tonight. What should I do?

First of all, I just want to say that technology usually refers to computers, but an old fashioned technology that is often forgotten is pen and paper.

  • Start taping a list to the front of your freezer so you know immediately what’s in there!

Here are some awesome articles all about how to use up leftover things:

Here are some recipe data bases or apps that make it easy to search by ingredient:

Did you know Alexa can help you with food waste? And other technologies, too.

  • Alexa has been programed to help you remember what’s in your fridge. If you use this device, it’s worth looking in to how to use this function! But it’s pretty interesting to know about, even if you don’t have it.
  • Check out this list of crazy new technologies that are also helping folks reduce food waste!

Speaking of technology, one rethink food waste challenge participant, Kim Ely, is writing about her experience in the challenge on her blog!

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is on!

Hundreds of households in Deschutes County have taken the challenge: because we want to rethink food waste. Too much food goes into the landfill every year and we want to change that in our community. You can too, it’s easy! If you haven’t already, sign up here.

The first week, the theme was “Do as you normally do.” This gives everyone an idea of what happens on a regular basis in their household and shows a normal amount of food waste for their household: a number to compare future numbers to.

It is true that because folks are in a mindset to prevent wasted food already (just by signing up for the challenge and beginning to think about what goes on in their house), the numbers are probably different than an average week. But that’s ok! This isn’t a scientific study, but just a tool for education.

Week 2: Shop Smarter

Way more often than not, we spend more money at the grocery store than we need to.

  • We get lured in by “buy one get one free” and “2 for 1” – you can save money doing this, but only if you actually eat what you buy
  • We buy what’s on sale – yes you save because it’s not full price, but will you eat that dollar-a-pound asparagus before it goes bad?
  • We tend toward the bulk buys and less expensive per ounce foods – it’s true, it’s cheaper by the pound, but how much of that food will you toss in the end?

Not only does this mean we are wasting money, but we are also wasting food. So this week, let’s focus on only buying what we need.

Here are some tips around this week’s theme:

  • First, make an Eat First baskets for your fridge!
    • This is a basket with an “Eat First” label: a place for you to segregate the food in your fridge you know needs to be eaten sooner rather than later. If something doesn’t fit, place it nearby. Don’t have an Eat First card? You can print your own!
      Ani's Eat First Basket
  • Take a few minutes to organize your fridge so you know what is in there and where things are.
  • Print out the Shop Smarter Tool
  • Before you add anything to your list, LOOK IN YOUR FRIDGE! What needs to be eaten this week? Are those green beans starting to turn? Is half of that rotisserie chicken still sitting there from a few days ago?
  • Try using a meal planning app like Handpick  or Mealime. Do you have one you already use and love? Let us know about it!
  • Buy only what you need!
  • Check out this blog about one person’s experience with meal planning.

Do you have ideas about smart shopping or meal planning or fridge organization? Let us know in the comments!

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is still going on! Week 2 (May 21-May 27), which begins tomorrow, will culminate in 3 prize drawings. 213 households in Deschutes County signed up to participate. Learn more about the challenge here.

If you enter your week’s wasted food data, you will automatically be entered in the prize drawing, which will happen on Tuesday, May 29.

Check out this week’s prizes:

week2prizesDraw#1: $100 grocery store gift card of your choice, an OXO jar spatula and a set of reusable ChicoBag produce bags.

Draw #2: A set of 3 sturdy leak-proof stainless steel containers, a set of 3 OXO silicone spatulas, and a 3 pack of etee beeswax food wraps.

Draw #3:  A hydroflask food flask and a set of 4 glass OXO food storage containers with snapping lids.

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge has begun! Week 1 (May 14-May 20) will culminate in 3 prize drawings. If you enter your week’s wasted food data, you will automatically be entered in the prize drawing, which will happen on Tuesday, May 22.

Check out this week’s prizes:

Draw#1: $100 grocery store gift card of your choice and a set of 3 Oxo silicone spatulas.

Draw #2: $50 grocery store gift card of your choice and a 3 pack of etee beeswax food wraps.

Draw #3: An Oxo jar spatula and a hydroflask food flask.




Local challenge to reduce wasted food will kick off on May 14th

Deschutes County, Oregon — In the United States, 40% of food we are growing, raising, and cooking ends up going to waste. In an effort to increase awareness around the poignant issue of wasted food, the Rethink Waste Project, a program of The Environmental Center, is searching for residents of Deschutes County to take the Rethink Food Waste Challenge.

Food is wasted throughout the chain: at the farm, in transport, at grocery stores and other distributors, at restaurants, and at the household level. The Challenge will focus on the household level where 25% of what people buy ends up not getting eaten and being tossed.

1 in 8 Americans do not have access to enough food, yet the average family of four spends $130 per month on food they throw away. 135 million tons of greenhouse gases are produced from wasted food. With food waste education, the Rethink Food Waste Challenge will address these social, economic, and environmental issues all at the same time.

The Challenge, which begins on May 14, will encourage behavior changes by asking each participating household to weigh and record their cumulative wasted food each week. During the four-week challenge, participants will receive tips and resources about ways to prevent wasted food through simple behavior changes.

As an incentive to submit weekly data, there will be drawings for prizes that help prevent wasted food, such as glass and stainless steel food storage containers and reusable beeswax food wraps, plus $100 gift card to the grocery store of your choice. There will also be two grand prize drawings for $400 worth of harvest bucks, redeemable from the Dome Grown Produce stand at the Redmond Farmer’s Market or the new East Bend Farmer’s Market. Participants will also feel good about making changes in their own lives that will help their greater community.

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is possible through a waste prevention grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The Rethink Waste Project provides waste prevention and reduction education for Deschutes County residents through a partnership with Deschutes County Department of Solid Waste and our local garbage and recycling service providers.

Learn more and sign up for the Rethink Food Waste Challenge at:

Although the unofficial American mantra seems to be “Bigger is Better”, thankfully there is a strong cultural trend swinging the other way towards downsizing. And while tiny homes aren’t for everyone, they are assisting a cultural shift towards at least looking at, or considering, the idea of smaller space. What we put in it. What we hold on to. What we need versus what we want. What a larger space demands. How much is enough, and how much can be really too much. Because the bigger the house, the more stuff you put in it, the more heat you need to warm it, the more power you need to light it, the more money and time you need to maintain it.

So while tiny homes aren’t for everyone, one thing that has gained popularity around a similar idea is an Accessory Dwelling Unit. You know, the apartment over a garage. A small “mother-in-law” studio behind a larger single family house. There has been a surge in popularity in ADU’s for a multitude of reasons.

First, people usually go down this path for a long term income generator. They can be rented out as a vacation rental or a long term rental. But from a community perspective, ADU’s offer flexibility. A family could live in the larger house and rent out the ADU, maybe they take over both residencies as their family expands, and then when it’s empty nest time, maybe the older couple downsizes to the smaller residence, taking advantage of renting out the larger one for continued income into their twilight years. This allows a family residence to expand and contract, without building bigger houses.

On the renter side, ADU’s offer a smaller living space that may meet the needs of singles, couples, or even small families. In a time when Bend has an extremely low vacancy rate, and yet is growing and building large homes, there are fewer options for renters. Building ADU’s creates housing opportunities within many walkable neighborhoods through infill, rather than pushing housing out to the edges.

What does any of this have to do with rethinking waste? Oregon DEQ has done a lot of research into how the size of your home (including what it’s made out of, how it’s heated and powered, and how you behave inside of it) which points to one of the biggest ways you can prevent waste: choose to build/buy/rent and live in a smaller home.

For those that really enjoy geeking out on this kind of stuff, check out this report: A Life Cycle Approach to Prioritizing Methods of Preventing Waste from the Residential Construction Sector in the Residential Construction Sector in the State of Oregon. The report states that “materials from construction, remodeling, and demolition projects are a significant contributor to waste in Oregon, and buildings themselves and the materials used to make them have significant environmental impacts. Using lifecycle analysis, DEQ evaluated waste prevention practices (reduction or reuse of materials) in residential buildings to determine which practices have the largest environmental benefits over the life of a home. Results indicated that among the 30 different material reduction and reuse practices evaluated, reducing home size and multi-family living achieved the largest greenhouse gas reductions along with significant reductions in other impact categories.” In other words, size matters: you can have a smaller footprint in a regular smaller home than you often can in a super green but very large home, and ADU’s are one way to build intentionally smaller living spaces.

Interested in learning more? Lucky you, there is an ADU focused Green Drinks coming up this Thursday, followed by an ADU workshop in May with Portland ADU expert Kol Peterson. If you’re serious about looking into building an ADU, or just want to check out some small space eye candy, his website Building an ADU is chock full of images and resources.