Recovering Drug Addictions and Nutrition

Reducing Food Waste by Utilizing "Imperfect" Produce Through Distributors in Germany

CommunityPublic Health
Menu ChangePolicy ChangeProgramming
Food PricesProfits as Priority

At a Glace

  • This case study originated from a dietitian in Germany who shared their story via a webinar hosted by the ICDA-SFS Toolkit Team.
  • The European food laws stating that only 100% perfect fruits and vegetables created an opportunity to reduce food waste and save money for recovering drug addicts in Germany.
  • Lessons Learnt: The fruits and vegetables from distributers that they are required not to sell due to produce not being “100% perfect”, can be helpful in practicing the reduction of food waste and using this produce to create jams, chutney’s, etc. that can be used in meals and donated.


The laws around food and food distribution are different from region to region and can have an impact on what happens to food throughout the food system, specifically in the process of distribution. The European food laws restrict distributors from selling any fruits or vegetables that are not 100% perfect. For example, “if a single peach in a tray has small damages, the whole tray is not allowed to be sold”, as explained from the source of this case study. With such a high standard for fruits and vegetables, distributors try to find reliable partners that can pick up and further process the fruits and vegetables that are not able to be sold. Fortunately, the Dietitian for an open living community for recovering drug addicts in Germany was able to take advantage of these distributors and their produce.

Implementation & Impact

An open living community for recovery drug addicts in Germany consists of professional individuals, including a Dietitian, that aim to help strengthen the overall life competences of these members. Part of their therapy includes working in social agriculture, which opened the opportunity to help create a sustainable solution for the food waste created through fruit and vegetable distribution. The Dietitian organized for the members of this community to gather the produce and goods from the distributors twice a week, while also learning how to filter out the fine fruits and vegetables that can be used for future consumption. After filtering through the produce, the members are able to, through guidance, process these fruits and vegetables into jams, juice, chutneys, syrup, cakes and much more. These products are then added to their meal plans to help increase fruit and vegetable consumption in a sustainable, hands on way, which helps to create a sense of pride and value to the members of this community. Any over production of these products are then given away as donations from the members of this open living community. In addition, through the money they saved by resourcing this produce, they were able to buy a pool table for their personal gratification and hard work. Through this initiative, the group members learn resourceful skills in reducing food waste, while also creating personal competencies that are useful in many aspects of recovery.

Photo by: Daria Gudoshnikova via Unsplash

Food for Thought
What laws or regulations could communities/groups within your region benefit from that could also optimize food waste?
In addition to food waste, what other topic of social/environmental sustainability is being impacted by this initiative?
Should dietitians play a role in ensuring the reduction of food waste from these distributors? If so, what role?

Contact Information
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