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A reader asked what supermarkets are doing to reduce food waste. Here are several answers.

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In a nation of abundance, it’s estimated that one in eight Americans needs help getting enough to eat.

“It’s such an absurdity,” said Adam Williamson, spokesman for Kroger’s King Soopers and City Market stores in the Rockies. “It’s an absurdity that needs to be addressed.”

Supermarkets have addressed the problem by diverting to the needy food that might otherwise be thrown away. That includes perishable food nearing what are popularly called expiration dates, though the dates generally merely indicate when the item is at its peak.

Americans spend $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, transporting, and disposing food that is never eaten, according to ReFED, which brings together businesses, nonprofits and others dedicated to finding data-driven solutions to the problem of wasted food.

A Denverite reader wanted to know what supermarket chains were doing about this. It’s true that, according to ReFED, businesses account for $57 billion of that wasted food. But people at home account for more — $144 billion.

In 2017 King Soopers and City Market stores in Colorado donated enough food for 8.5 million meals, Williams said.

Amanda Peterson, Rocky Mountain regional safety specialist for Whole Foods Market, said that on average that grocer’s Denver stores every week donate just under 1 ton of food, or roughly 1,200 meals.

Organizations such as the Food Bank of the Rockies, Metro Caring and Denver Food Rescue all receive supermarket donations in the Denver area. Food Bank of the Rockies, perhaps the biggest player, serves 30 counties across the northern half of Colorado and has a roster of nearly two dozen supermarkets and others that are part of its food rescue program. In addition to King Soopers, City Market and Whole Foods, the food bank’s list includes Wal-Mart, Sam’s, Target, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Albertsons, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s. The food bank has already collected 20.2 million pounds of food this year, ahead of the 21 million it collected all of last year.

Food Bank of the Rockies' warehouse in Aurora, Nov. 13, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Food Bank of the Rockies' warehouse in Aurora, Nov. 13, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The food bank distributes donated food to churches, food pantries, schools and others serving the needy in a city where, according to the mayor’s office, one in six households experience periods of limited access to enough food. The food bank is a member of Feeding America, a national network of food banks and pantries that also conducts research on hunger and poverty. Feeding America, works with retailers like Kroger to divert food from landfills. Across the country in 2016, Feeding America rescued 3.3 billion pounds of food.

Janie Gianotsos, director of marketing and community relations for the Food Bank of the Rockies, said that once they start donating, some retailers have seen how much they had been throwing away and adjusted their business practices to prevent waste. Her food bank tries to raise awareness among supermarkets about both waste and the impact they can have on communities. Costco and Amazon are among retailers that have joined the Food Bank roster in recent years, she said. When she hears from smaller operations who want to donate food, she recommends organizations like Denver-based We Don’t Waste, which picks up food from local caterers, restaurants, distributors and other food businesses and gets it to the needy.

Arlan Preblud, founder  executive director of We Don’t Waste, said he liked to partner even more with the food bank.

“The whole idea is to get the food out to people who can use it, not throw it away,” Preblud said.

It seems like controlled chaos on a morning at the Food Bank of the Rockies.

Fork lifts laden with pallets beep as they move through giant warehouses, some of them refrigerators the size of small homes. Pop music blares from speakers. Packets of frozen meat thud into boxes as volunteers pack food to be shipped out.

The food bank organizes 20,000 volunteers every year into shifts and trains them to handle food safely. It sends out its own trucks to pick up food and coordinates connections between donors and nonprofits that do their own pickups.

Andrea Koblischke (left) and Cathy Boller pack groceries for distribution at Food Bank of the Rockies' warehouse in Aurora, Nov. 13, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Andrea Koblischke (left) and Cathy Boller pack groceries for distribution at Food Bank of the Rockies' warehouse in Aurora, Nov. 13, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Thoughtfulness and attention to detail also is necessary at the grocery store end. At Whole Foods, the first step is to determine whether food that can’t be sold is safe.

“If it’s spoiled meaning it’s no longer safe for consumption, we compost our food waste,” she said. “If it’s still okay but does not meet Whole Foods Market standards, then we look to see if other teams within the store can use it; for example, a prepared food team may be able to feature the ingredient in a recipe.”

Food that is safe to eat but not usable in Whole Foods stores is donated, she said.

Kroger’s Williamson said produce, for example, past the point of peak freshness in his stores is bagged in red nets to indicate to customers they can get it at a discount and made available for sale for another 24 hours. If it’s still not sold and still edible, it’s set aside for food banks. Produce past the point of peak freshness will still be good at home for several days, Williamson said.

Kroger pledged last year to increase food donations and reduce food waste with a goal of eliminating hunger in the communities where it operates and waste in its stores by 2025.

“It’s not something a big company should do to make itself look better,” Williamson said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

If you want to explore what you can do to keep food out of landfills, you might consult the Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, by a National Resources Defense Council scientist named Dana Gunders who offers tips on planning meals, shopping and eating deliberately. Consumers can store produce differently and re-imagine — instead of tossing — leftovers. Perhaps the money you save putting her advice to use can be donated to a food pantry.



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bjtitus
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Disappointed that they caved to fan pressure and went with Ruth Bader Ginsburg over Elena Kagan.
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bjtitus
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Covarr
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I've been pushing for them to add The Poopsmith as a playable character, but so far no dice.
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alt_text_at_your_service
9 days ago
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Disappointed that they caved to fan pressure and went with Ruth Bader Ginsburg over Elena Kagan.
alt_text_bot
9 days ago
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Disappointed that they caved to fan pressure and went with Ruth Bader Ginsburg over Elena Kagan.

Download Digitized Copies of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, the Pre-Civil Rights Guide to Traveling Safely in the U.S. (1936-66)

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As an American living outside America, I'm often asked how best to see my homeland by people wanting to visit it. I always suggest the same method: road-tripping, preferably across the entire continent — a way of experiencing the U.S. of A guaranteed to at once to confirm and shatter the visitor's pre-existing perceptions of the country. But even under the best possible conditions, such road trips have their arduous stretches and even their dangers, a fact understood by nobody better than by the black travelers of the Green Book era. Published between 1936 and 1967, the guide officially known as The Negro Motorist Green Book informed such travelers of where in America (and later other countries as well) they could have a meal, stay the night, and get their car repaired without prejudice.

You can learn more about the Green Book (which we've previously featured here on Open Culture) from the Vox explainer video above. Then, to get a fuller idea of the books' content, head over to the New York Public Library's digital collections, where you'll find 23 issues from the Green Book's more than 30-year run.

Digitized by the NYPL's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, they're free to read online and download. Data drawn from this archive and released into the public domain has also given rise to projects like "Navigating the Green Book," where you can explore its recommended places laid out on a map and even plot a trip between any two cities in America according to the Green Book's 1947 or 1956 editions.

Though the Green Book ceased publication not long after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, interest in the America they reflect hasn't vanished, and has in fact grown in recent years. Academia has produced more studies of Jim Crow-era travel over the past decade or two, and this Thanksgiving will see the wide release of Green Book, Peter Farrelly's feature film about the friendship between black pianist Don Shirley and the chauffeur who drove him through the Deep South in the 1960s. "To flip through a Green Book is to open a window into history and perhaps to see, the tiniest amount, through the eyes of someone who lived it," writes K Menick on the NYPL's blog. "Read these books; map them in your mind. Think about the trips you could take, can take, will take. See how the size of the world can change depending on the color of your skin." 

Related Content:

The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, the Pre-Civil Rights Guide to Traveling Safely in the U.S. (1936-66)

Read Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story: The Influential 1957 Civil Rights Comic Book

Robert Penn Warren Archive Brings Early Civil Rights to Life

Vintage 1930s Japanese Posters Artistically Market the Wonders of Travel

Foodie Alert: New York Public Library Presents an Archive of 17,000 Restaurant Menus (1851-2008)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Download Digitized Copies of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, the Pre-Civil Rights Guide to Traveling Safely in the U.S. (1936-66) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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bjtitus
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Nzeribe
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That's an amazing historical resource.
Manchester, England

The Art Institute of Chicago Has Put 50,000 High-Res Images from Their Collection Online

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Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago recently unveiled a new website design. As part of their first design upgrade in 6 years, they have placed more than 52,000 high-resolution images from their collection online, available to all comers without restriction.

Students, educators, and just regular art lovers might be interested to learn that we’ve released thousands of images in the public domain on the new website in an open-access format (52,438 to be exact, and growing regularly). Made available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, these images can be downloaded for free on the artwork pages.

We’ve also enhanced the image viewing capabilities on object pages, which means that you can see much greater detail on objects than before. Check out the paint strokes in Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, the charcoal details on Charles White’s Harvest Talk, or the synaesthetic richness of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Blue and Green Music.

I’ve included a few notable works from their collection above: The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat (which you can zoom and pretend you’re Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, Mao by Andy Warhol, and Two Sisters (On the Terrace) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The resolution on the images is high enough to check out the brushstrokes on the paintings. Here’s some detail on the van Gogh:

Art Institute Chicago

I love seeing more museums doing this.

Tags: art   Art Institute of Chicago   museums
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bjtitus
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StunGod
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Thanks Art Institute!
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
cjheinz
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#art

MeFi: Before envelopes, there was letterlocking

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Say you're Mary Queen of Scots, or Galileo, or Machiavelli, or Marie Antoinette. Say you want to send a tamper-evident letter, but the mass-produced envelope hasn't been invented. You could still secure your message using letterlocking: a system of folds, slits and seals that made a letter its own security system .

Jana Dambroglio, Daniel Starza Smith and their team are creating a comprehensive history and dictionary of letterlocking.
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bjtitus
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Denver's district attorney defends her decision to not file charges in a fatal officer-involved shooting

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When Beth McCann was campaigning to be elected as Denver’s district attorney in 2016, she promised that she would be available and transparent when she ruled on an officer-involved shooting that resulted in a fatality.

Last night she fulfilled that promise as she has before by appearing at the Central Park Recreation Center to present her reasoning and answer questions about her decision to not file charges against the officers that killed Stephen Nguyen and injured Rafael Landeros after a car chase that was triggered by a misidentification and that resulted in 48 shots being fired into the car.

Officers began to follow the vehicle after noticing what they believed to be suspicious activity involving Nguyen at the house of Mauricio Venzor-Gonzalez’s girlfriend. The man they were looking for, Venzor-Gonzalez, was an escaped convict who had previously attempted to kill a police officer.

There were three officers involved in the incident — Austin Barela, William Bohm and Susan Mercado fired 34, 12 and two shots into the car, respectively. Although there was a gun found in the vehicle, according to the decision letter, at no time did officers state that they saw a weapon being brandished. During the chase, the suspects threw something out the window that officers believed to be a weapon but that was later found to be a black box containing methamphetamine.

McCann said her decision not to file charges against these officers was primarily based on whether or not a jury would find these officers guilty. In this case, she didn’t believe that would be possible.

“It enters into what was going on in the officers’ minds at the time the shooting occurred,” she said.

“It was my conclusion that a jury would not be able to convict beyond a reasonable doubt that these officers acted without lawful justification given the state of the law and so that’s what I have to look at,” she added later in the discussion.

To begin the meeting, McCann narrated the encounter through the eyes of the officers and explained how their perspective — in conjunction with the way the law protects the actions of peace officers — made it unlikely for a jury to be able to find them guilty. She did note that although she did not perceive this to be a winnable criminal case, the family may find success in civil court, where the standard for the preponderance of evidence is a significantly lower bar.

In civil court, she said, lawyers could possibly win a case against the Denver Police Department by suing for damages, claiming that the officers used excessive force. She said that in cases where the family wants to pursue those possibilities, the district attorney’s office makes files available for their use.

Some community members felt that using the chances of winning a case to decide whether to pursue criminal charges was unsatisfactory reasoning.

“The decision being based on whether or not this is winnable in court as opposed to whether or not this was justice, that’s deeply troubling to me because that tells me we don’t share the same standard of justice as I would’ve hoped,” Kamau Allen, a community organizer with Together Colorado, said.

“I wanted to share that because as a community we see something like this, we lose a community member or family member or a friend under circumstances like this, and because we have a different standard of justice, the trust that we have in the police dies, and because of the decision that was made, the trust that we have in your office also fades away.”

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann listens to a solemn comment during a community meeting to discuss why she did not charge any officers who killed a suspect during a chase, Nov. 8, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann listens to a solemn comment from Kamau Allen during a community meeting to discuss why she did not charge any officers who killed a suspect during a chase, Nov. 8, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

McCann said one of her biggest concerns is the feeling of distrust between community members and law enforcement agencies, and she hopes to combat those sentiments by being personally available, accountable and making all of the files regarding the case accessible.

McCann said the investigation is thorough and that people can trust the process.

Several members of the audience questioned how there could possibly be an impartial investigation of an officer-involved shooting in Denver if it is conducted by other law enforcement agencies in the city. McCann explained that by law, the Denver Police Department has to work with another police department when investigating officer-involved shootings as a safeguard against bias.

The Denver Police Department currently partners with the Aurora Police Department for these situations.

McCann also believes that there is enough social distance between the homicide detectives and the patrol officers to avoid a conflict of interest.

She said she believes that the Denver homicide department is the best investigative body in the state, and attempted to reassure those in attendance that the investigation is trustworthy and impartial by explaining the process that takes place after the shooting, step by step. She said that things like separating the officers immediately, not allowing them to see their body camera footage and the way detectives question officers foster an impartial process that Denverites can trust.

“Having observed a number of these, they are handled objectively, I think, by the police department,” McCann said.

Trust is especially difficult to establish in this case as some aspects of the body-camera footage, in the eyes of several community members, appear to deviate from the account of the encounter given by officers in their interviews. For instance, a woman who identified herself only as Stephanie and someone close to members of Nguyen’s family, noted that for a split-second before officers began firing it appears Nguyen’s hands are raised.

This deviates from the officer’s account, which McCann agreed with, that the men refused to comply with the officers’ commands.

“What we see is the [officer on the driver’s side], he’s getting close to the car about to open Stephen’s door, ’cause from what it looks like Stephen put his hands up, and the driver, the police driver [Officer Bohm], is approaching the door and you can tell he wants to open but then he hears gunshots,”  Stephanie pointed out.

McCann did not believe that was clearly visible based on the footage, and more importantly, she said, she thought officers could have reasonably not believed that was the case during the encounter.

There is also a substantial amount of attention being paid to the account from Barela, who was on the passenger side of the car. According to the statements in McCann’s decision letter, Barela opens fire initially under the assumption that he is in imminent danger because the suspect, who he believes to be armed and dangerous, is about to open the door and shoot at the officers. In the video, however, the door does not appear to open and during his questioning, Landeros, the young man that survived the shootings, said Nguyen reached over him in an attempt to get out of the passenger side door but was unsuccessful.

This is where McCann’s view of what is going on in the minds of the officers is crucial. In her determination, a jury would find the officers actions reasonable based on the law regarding the use-of-force standards for peace officers. The law is clear in giving peace officers the authority to use force if they believe an armed and dangerous suspect is threatening the lives of others or using a deadly weapon to escape law enforcement. At one point during the video, the car does creep forward and several of the officers involved said they believed the suspects were trying to escape.

McCann also noted that there was no evidence that officers acted out of aggression because the man suspected of being in the car was an attempted murderer of a police officer. She said only one of the officers knew at the time that Venzor-Gonzalez had attempted to kill an officer while the other two officers just knew he was a murder suspect.

Although the number of shots fired seemed excessive to many, McCann made it clear that there is no specific window of time in which officers are considered justified. She said it’s not as if officers are justified when they begin to shoot but lose that justification as they continue to shoot. In this case, she said, officers reasonably believed there was an imminent threat and thus their actions were reasonable based upon the wording of the law. She also emphasized the fact that Nguyen had just led officers on a high-speed chase through a populated area and officers felt sure that Venor-Gonzalez was in the car.

The end of the district attorney’s investigation does not mean the officers involved will not be disciplined.

McCann said that under the new leadership of Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, the department is headed in a progressive direction and has recently worked very hard to change its policies to promote de-escalation tactics and avoid situations like this. She said she hopes the Denver Police Department takes a hard look at this, especially the misidentification that triggered the whole encounter.

“The police department takes this very seriously. They do not want to shoot people and they have changed a lot of their procedures and training because of some of these situations in the past. They are held accountable and officers that get involved in these situations are sometimes disciplined,” McCann said.

At a press conference in October where the body-camera footage of the shooting was released, Pazen said that although the district attorney’s office had concluded its investigation, his investigation was just beginning. As of two days ago, DPD said their investigation is still ongoing.

McCann noted that as soon as officers are involved an incident like this, they are put on desk duty until her decision comes in, and Pazen is working on making officers go through a wellness program before they return to duty.

Denver’s local Black Lives Matter Chapter sent a statement to Denverite asserting that as long as policing practices remain the same, incidents like this will be a continual occurrence: “As long as officers will be over policing our communities, shootings will be justified because of their explicit and implicit biases telling them to criminalize and fear Black and Brown skin.”

Although McCann struggled with the case, she is comfortable with her decision — so much so, in fact, that she didn’t send it out for independent review as she has done in cases where she felt uncertain.

She said that it would be very difficult to see changes in the law regarding the standards of behavior for peace officers,  but that is where people would have to look in order to see a different outcome. In her two years as district attorney, McCann has handled nine fatal shootings and has not filed charges in any of them.



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bjtitus
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