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A zero-waste world


Khoury Humphrey has a philosophy: to ignore a problem is to condone it. This viewpoint led him to begin thinking of ways to feed the homeless and poor in the City of Rochester, and to eventually form Flower City Pickers — an idea he came up with while recovering from an illness earlier this year.

Humphrey, 27, coordinates volunteers to pick up unwanted produce and food products from the Public Market every Saturday and to find uses for it. Whatever is collected — which can be anything from potatoes to barbeque sauce to cookies — is sorted into piles and what is still edible is distributed to local shelters, food pantries, and church organizations, Humphrey says.

The group collects a significant amount of food. About two weeks ago, the Pickers collected roughly 4,000 pounds, Humphrey says.

It's not the prettiest stuff, he says, but someone probably has a use for it. A vendor may not be able to sell a pepper after it has fallen on the ground and busted open, he says, but rinse it off, cut it up, and it's useable.

Food that is no longer suitable for people to eat is still not wasted, he says. It's donated to farmers who raise animals, such as pigs and chickens, for food, or it's composted, Humphrey says.

The biggest challenge for Humphrey and the Pickers isn't finding food, he says. The market's vendors are extremely supportive, he says, and glad the food isn't being wasted. The hard part, he says, is finding volunteers to help collect on Saturdays between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Interested people can e-mail him: