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Feeding San Diego's 'Zero Waste' program sends discarded food to farms

We follow Feeding San Diego's unwanted food to farms where it feeds cattle, pigs, sheep and more.

ANZA, Calif. — Feeding San Diego helps nourish hungry families across San Diego County, but did you know the non-profit organization also feeds cattle, pigs and sheep and more. In this Zevely Zone, I followed discarded food from San Diego to the Sage Mountain Farm in Anza. Feeding San Diego is celebrating the season of giving with their Give Hope, Share Joy campaign. 

Earlier this month, my co-workers and I volunteered to help sort cucumbers. The vegetables went to families in need, but you may be wondering what happens to the rotten ones. They have a story too. Most of the produce at Feeding San Diego is fresh and feeds thousands of hungry households but the rejects become part of the non-profit's zero waste program.

Credit: Sage Mountain Farm

"We like to make sure we are not throwing food away since we are known for capturing food," said Feeding San Diego's Sam Duke. He told us even the throwaways have a home. Instead of going to a landfill to take up space and emit methane, they are donated to three local farms. 

We followed that food to Anza where we met Phil Noble. He is the owner of Sage Mountain Farm. Using his tractor, Phil delivered breakfast to his hungry cattle. 

"More cabbage," said Phil. Cabbage, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and more. "These must be the healthiest cows in California," I said as they chowed down. "So, we've got Swiss chard, arugula, carrots, they love carrots, it's really good for them," said Phil. "It's great, it's good for the cattle, they are healthy."

Credit: Sage Mountain Farm

It's also good for Phil's bottom line. "It helps our business a lot. It cuts our feed cost probably in half," said Phil "The food is going somewhere instead of a landfill."

The food donations are Feeding San Diego's way of helping families and farmers. "Running a farm is not easy and in California especially it's not easy," said Carissa Casares. 

She made the trip from San Diego as well to see firsthand how their zero-waste program is helping the environment. "The food should not be going to waste period and we know from the environmental protection agencies that the food recovery hierarchy if you can't feed people then feeding animals is the second-best option in terms of our environment," said Carissa.

Credit: Sage Mountain Farm

Boxes of celery are fed straight to the pigs. The cardboard boxes go into the pig pen because the carbon, waste and manure get trampled and turned into fertilizer. "There is basically zero waste I mean we are feeding the animals with really good nutrition," said Phil. 

In 90 days, the mess becomes fertilizer. "The best fertilizer on the planet, all organic, all natural," said Phil which is used to grow more food. "It is a sustainable system yeah we have a closed system here on the farm," said Phil. We followed the food and found out; everybody wins when animals pig out.

Credit: CBS 8

CBS 8 is partnering with Feeding San Diego to help raise awareness about the urgent need in our community regarding food insecurities. If you'd like to volunteer, make a donation or need food assistance click here. Feeding San Diego's holiday season of giving is coming to a close. Donations will still be doubled until December 31st.  You can also click on the following links to learn more information about Sage Mountain Farm and Sage Mountain Beef.  

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