How Georgia Tech grads are fighting food waste (and how you can, too)

Two companies, each started by recent Tech grads, have innovative sustainability methods
Georgia Tech grads fight food waste

Illustration by James Olstein

Two companies owned by Georgia Tech grads are fighting food waste
Patrick Pittaluga and Sean Warner, cousins who graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014 and 2015, respectively, are using fly larvae to feed chickens. The bugs can eat 200 percent of their body weight every day. At Grubbly Farms’ HQ, Pittaluga and Warner feed them leftover juice pulp from Arden’s Garden and grains from Second Self Brewery—mush that would otherwise go to landfills. Eventually, the grubs are dehydrated, packaged, and shipped off to farms. “We started by buying 700 black soldier fly larvae on Amazon and set up a test chamber in our laundry room in downtown,” says Pittaluga. Later this year, they hope to move to a 15,000-square-foot facility, where they can produce 500 pounds of protein a day.

Alexander Weiss and Ruwan Subasinghe were also part of Georgia Tech’s class of 2015, and they’ve formed Replantable to design what they’re calling nanofarms. These countertop boxes made from bamboo, stainless steel, and tempered glass come with compostable plant pads that grow a variety of vegetables and herbs in one to six weeks with the help of water and LED lights. The idea is that you grow what you need as you need it—no rotting or uneaten radishes in the fridge. “This is the food production of the future,” says Weiss. “Instead of having centralized food production, it’s localized in the home.”

How to reduce food waste at home
“Forty percent of food produced in the U.S. is never eaten,” says Miller Union chef and Slow Food Atlanta board member Steven Satterfield. “And once it goes to a landfill, that trashed food emits harmful greenhouse gases.” Here are his tips for cutting down on waste:

Grow your own.
That way you call the shots by growing only what you need.

Rethink Expiration Dates.
They’re the manufacturer’s guidelines for freshness, not safety.

Repurpose scraps.
Corncobs and onion skins add sweetness and depth to broth, celery leaves are good for a garnish, and radish greens make for a peppery salad.

Shop frequently.
Purchasing food in smaller quantities makes you more aware of what you have on hand and lessens the chance of waste.

Freezing and pickling are two ways to extend the lives of fruits and vegetables you simply can’t eat up.

This article originally appeared in our April 2017 issue.