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Serving: IN
apples on tree against blue sky Alex Dayton Walther
TOO GOOD TO WASTE: Federal regulations prohibit an orchard from selling these juicy apples if they fall on the ground before being picked — even as cider. This orchard sought a different solution.

Indiana orchard seeks to minimize food waste

Apples that fall on the ground still have value to someone.

While most farmers face food waste, not all farmers can find a solution to limit the amount that is wasted. This is especially true for orchards and produce farmers. This issue can be linked to the Food and Drug Administration becoming stricter with what it considers as acceptable food for the consumer.  

The owner of Stuckey Farm in Sheridan, Ind., Jeff Pierce, says his apple orchard is no exception when it comes to food waste. Stuckey Farm primarily experiences food waste in the form of dropped apples.

Many years ago, they could turn these apples that had fallen onto the ground into apple cider. “A number of years ago, FDA deemed those apples no longer safe to be picked up and made into apple cider,” Pierce says. In fact, the dropped apples were no longer allowed to be used for anything, including animal food.  

To combat the loss of apples at Stuckey Farm, Pierce said the farm has worked with a local organization called The Society of St. Francis. The mission of this organization is to feed the hungry.

“They have been given a waiver over collecting dropped apples and turning those into food for the hungry,” Pierce says. The apples that have been collected from Stuckey Farm alone equal about 6,200 pounds. 

Due to the rules and regulations put in place by FDA, farmers are limited to what can be done with waste. Although Stuckey Farm can’t sell its dropped apples, it has found a way to eliminate something with nutritional value that otherwise would have been wasted. 

Walther is a senior in agricultural communication at Purdue University.

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