Street Talk

Street Talk: The island of misfit produce

September 22, 2017
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A local retailer is testing the premise that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Grand Rapids-based retailer Meijer has found a perfectly imperfect fit for customers interested in reducing food waste and sacrificing aesthetics for savings.

The grocer now offers a line of Misfits produce that connects shoppers to tasty but cosmetically challenged fruits and vegetables at a reduced price. The packaged fresh produce may be discolored, scarred or odd-sized but offers the same taste, freshness and quality of other produce the retailer carries.

River Ridge Farms of Sparta has been part of Meijer’s Locally Grown program for 27 years and is one of the farms participating in the Misfits program.

“Growers work hard to try and grow apples with the perfect shape, color and size, but since apples are grown outside, they may end up with an odd shape because it grew around a branch or has low color due to growing in a shady spot on the tree,” said Don Armock, president of the farm’s Riveridge Produce division. “Teaming with Meijer on the Misfits program, growers have an opportunity to sell imperfect, but great tasting fruit while the consumer gets to save on fresh produce while maybe even getting a laugh out of its odd look.”

The Misfits program is made available through working with Robinson Fresh, a division of C.H. Robinson, which repurposes fruits and vegetables that might not make it to grocery stores due to their appearance or shape.

Launching the program chainwide complements Meijer’s sustainability goals, which support the USDA’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.

Currently, the United Nations estimates between 20 percent and 40 percent of produce harvested each year is thrown away because it does not meet accepted standards for store shelves. Nearly half of the available food supply in the U.S. is never eaten, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“We understand there is produce left in the field because farmers don’t think there is a market for it,” said Craig Arneson, Robinson Fresh general manager of the north region. “With the Misfits program, farmers have an outlet to sell more produce, and customers have an opportunity to save money and help reduce waste.”

Misfits produce items vary based on availability and are sold at a discount of 20 to 40 percent.

Aim high

West Michigan will continue to influence the direction the state is flying.

Gov. Rick Snyder this month reappointed a Western Michigan University pilot to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission.

Russell Kavalhuna, executive director of flight operations in WMU’s College of Aviation, will serve a four-year term expiring May 27, 2021, subject to advice and consent of the Senate.

The nine-member commission has rule-making authority for the state’s aviation infrastructure and receives $100 million in appropriations. Housed in the Michigan Department of Transportation, it governs all airports, flight schools and other aeronautical activities within the state.

“Russ has years of aviation experience, and I am confident he will continue to be a positive asset to this commission,” Snyder said.

Kavalhuna was an airline pilot for US Airways Express for five years and also has been a certified flight instructor at WMU. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation flight science from the university and a law degree from the WMU Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed him to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission in 2009, and Snyder reappointed him in 2013. During his time with the organization, Kavalhuna's fellow commission members have twice elected him to serve as chair.

Face time

An upcoming conference aims to help buyers cut down on cold calls by putting them face to face with purchasing managers.

The West Michigan Public Purchasing Alliance’s (WMPPA) Meet the Buyer 2017 conference will be held from 12:30-3:30 p.m., Oct. 11, at DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.

Purchasing managers from the area’s biggest municipalities, organizations and nonprofits will gather in one place for the event.

Michelle Richards, founding board member and executive director of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, will keynote, followed by an open floor to meet buyers from approximately 30 agencies and organizations.

Calvin Brinks, Kent County purchasing manager and chair of the WMPPA, said the organization strives to ensure inclusiveness and equal opportunity for all businesses to sell their products and services.

“This year is especially exciting, as we have more buyers than in previous years, giving vendors bigger and better opportunities to get to know local organizations,” he said. “This event helps give businesses — big and small — a great opportunity to sell their products and services.”

This year’s expected buyers include staff from the state of Michigan, Kent County, city of Grand Rapids, city of Kentwood, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, Western Michigan University, Davenport University, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids Public Schools, The Rapid, Van Andel Institute and more.

Representatives from the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center are expected to be on hand as well.

More information is available at bit.ly/WMPPAconf.

Leaving a legacy

The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s annual fundraiser, the Jay & Betty Van Andel Legacy Awards Gala, in November will recognize recipients whose community leadership is vital and whose character is valued.

The awards will formally be given to the recipients at the GRPM’s ninth annual Legacy Awards Gala on Thursday, Nov. 9. Tickets may be purchased at grpm.org.

The Jay & Betty Van Andel Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to David and Judy Frey. The award is presented to individuals who possess a lifetime of dedication to the community.

Judy Frey is a former mayor of East Grand Rapids and has served in various leadership positions on education boards and advisory committees.

David Frey’s involvement includes working as a civic leader for the Grand Design 2000, and his many years working as the co-chair of the Grand Action Committee. He also is the former president of what was then Union Bank.

The Dave & Carol Van Andel Leadership Award is awarded to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to the greater West Michigan region supporting philanthropic organizations and contributing to the cultural, educational and economic health of the community. This year’s award will be presented to Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc., and a leading economic development strategist. Her collaboration with local, state and national organizations on critical issues related to economic development is one of the many things that contribute to her leadership in the community.

“The Casey” Award is named after one of the museum’s most dynamic volunteers, Casey Wondergem. The award highlights public service and serves to inspire and encourage continued charitable activity. This year, the award will go to Dr. Mira Krishnan, a clinical neuropsychologist and consultant. She is dedicated to building services for autistic children and their families within the Grand Rapids area. She serves the community while being a member on the boards of Ikus Life Enrichment Services, Equality Michigan and the Association of Children’s Residential Centers, and she has authored national position papers on serving diverse youth.

The evening’s festivities will be hosted by Dave and Carol Van Andel and Jim and Sue Williams

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