Junk food: Food waste in Mesa County

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- What do you do with your leftover food? Do you toss it, compost it or donate it? Point is, there's a lot of food out there, and a lot of it simply goes to waste.

Zane Lawson, owner of The Cowboy and the Rose Catering is preparing food for two large events his company is catering for. As he preps and primes the pork, he talked to us about food. It takes a lot of it to make a catering business go-round.

"We always have extra food," said Lawson.

Nobody wants to run out of food at a wedding or event. Lawson said they have a special place for that excess food.

"A majority of that food goes to Catholic Outreach," said Lawson.

To donate the food, his business is using a Colorado Revised Statute, CRS 13-21-113.

"That keeps retail food establishments exempt from liability when they donate food," said Monique Mull, Consumer Protection Program Manager at Mesa County Public Health.

"We feel really good about that because otherwise, it's just going to be wasted,” said Lawson.

They’re donating food that would normally go to the landfill, to those in need.

The landfill certainly sees a lot of food waste.

"We don't have an exact number at this time, but it's a lot," said Barrett Jensen, Solid Waste Director at the Mesa County Landfill.

"On average, we waste about $370 each on food,” said Mull.

“We have so much waste in our society already,” said Lawson.

In Mesa County, we throw away more than six pounds of junk a day, the national average is four, according to Jensen.

"The food waste can be composted and used as a soil amendment," said Jensen.

So, the landfill wants to know how much of that junk is food, cardboard, paper and other products because there could be a market for it. They applied for a grant, and if they get it, they'd do what's called a waste characterization study. It'll answer some of those questions for them.

"Which allows us to make more informed decisions in the future as far as solid waste management goes," said Jensen.

But for now, Lawson and his business are sticking to donating their leftovers.

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