Artist Spotlight: Beth Rankin and Can-Do Real Food

Beth Rankin grew up in the paved part of the Garden State so she is amused she has ended up working with farmers. After getting involved with the farm-to-table movement in West Virginia by helping establish a year-round indoor local food market, Beth started connecting with various organizations that work with Willamette Valley farmers. It was while working on an organic farm a few summers ago that the fact of food waste became painfully apparent. At all farms, a lot of edible food is put into compost piles or fed to animals because of their imperfections, but they have the same nutritional content as the ones that are shaped right. Beth says, “I really respect the work that our farmers do, so my way, beside buying as much local food as possible for our own table, is to help by preserving that surplus produce and offering shelf-safe food to people to enjoy year round.”

loaded pasta sauce

No photo description available.Can-Do Real Food started out with canning fruits into jams and vegetables into sauces. We make an amazing Loaded Pasta Sauce that not only tastes fresh, like it was just harvested, but is full of other produce (those funny shaped carrots are shredded and so are the watermelon-sized zucchinis.) All add nutritional value and the fussy eaters will never know.

Jams and jellies tend to unusual recipes; Beth feels you can buy simple jams anywhere, but offers special recipes like the “naughty” line, each jar with a tablespoon of some locally made liquor or have personality from some other ingredient. Image may contain: food

Recently, Can-Do Real Food has branched into more dehydrated products, aiming for very easy to prepare meal mixes and supplements that people who  camp and backpack will appreciate.  These foods are designed to be ready to eat with just some water and minimal cooking and will be perfect in any household for a quick meal or when the power goes out and you can use your grill to boil up some water. Image may contain: food

Is this art?   No. But it is creative, no question about it. And reducing waste, including food waste, is a major component of a sustainable world.Market offerings

Beth Rankin is one of the organizers of this festival and You can find her and Can-Do Real Food at Table #27 where you can taste the food before buying.

Artist Spotlight: Bryan Baer and Baer Naked Metals

Running a business as  a heavy equipment repair shop, Bryan Baer started noticing all the interesting parts and things they were chucking in the recycling bin. So, about eight years ago he started collecting those interesting parts and started to  weld, cut,  and grind them into a new life. outdoor duck Bryan Baer

Playing with these loose pieces and making something fun is like playing with Legos to Bryan. He realizes his creations will survive many lifetimes more as a piece of art than the part’s original purpose. 83958D48-E2D8-407C-A34C-12667E98DEAF - Bryan Baer

“We make and sell cute and scary animals and creatures using various recycled and found metals.” 282EF1D2-F8B1-4DF0-93F0-2057A0DB5591 - Bryan Baer

Bryan Baer and Baer Naked Metals are at Table #5.

Want to Talk about New Ideas?

You may not be on Facebook. You may have sworn that there is no way you are EVER going to waste your life looking at photos of kittens.  You may have heard that people have stopped talking to family members because of political arm wrestling.

All that can be true.

However, the very definite benefit to checking into Facebook at least once daily is that you can learn a lot about Zero Waste. Not only activities and events that the group is planning but things that are going on around the world!!! facebook ok

And then, the best part: discussion.  People who are interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle, or at least supporting efforts made by others, are adding their comments and their excitement.

What are people talking about?

Well, yesterday I posted (about the 4th time in 6 months actually) a story about grocery shopping without packaging.  Over 250 people read the post and almost 80 of them read the article. Best of all, several people responded with comments!

“A week or so ago I posted an article about package free shopping and there was a lot of interest here in McMinnville. Please respond this time telling how often you use the bulk bins. What appeals to you? And do you make a special trip to Winco, for example, to shop their extensive bulk bin selection?…/uk-supermarket-launches-pl…/

Comments showed how much people would like to be able to use their own jars and other packages for bulk purchasing. The solution to that lies with the store. All we consumers need to do is inform the store manager that we’d like a system to note the tare weight of our personal containers. It is feasible and with enough interest, it can be achieved!!!

Another topic that really jumped off the screen and became a real life endeavor was a post about an artisan fair where the art was actually made from items that were heading for the trash. Well,  after posting a follow-up to ask if there was interest here, I was bombarded by at least 30 people in the region who wanted to know when the fair was scheduled! First things first, a committee of six artisans have been working hard and yes, there will be the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival this spring. Stay tuned for details. 

I posted about Oregon’s adoption of a plan to reduce food waste:  “In the last 2 years, Zero Waste McMinnville and a number of restaurants on 3rd Street participated in a study to measure the kinds of trash (recyclable or compostible or landfill) generated at the restaurants. Collecting compostible food waste is the logical next step from all large food waste producers (including the schools, the hospital and major employers as well as restaurants). And now, Metro Portland has passed an ordinance to have a similar plan in place.…/starting-2020-many-businesses… ” Over 280 people saw the article and three people shared it as well. 

We have discussions about

  • Starbuck’s decision to replace their plastic straws with paper straws….wrapped in plastic
  • News about how Recology and other waste haulers are storing our recycled trash while they search for new buyers.
  • Hints on how to reduce personal single-use plastic consumption.
  • And there has been high enthusiasm for our efforts to develop a way to collect Styrofoam and deliver it to Agilyz, a recycler located nearby in Tigard. 

 This blog, as all blogs that we write, will also be posted on our Facebook page. So now, come on, break out of your shell and go see what is happening on the page for logo

Go to  and join the discussion!!  And post a photo of some sustainable activity YOU’ve done recently!!

Part of the Community

A small city, like McMinnville, offers its residents a chance to get lost, as it is large enough. It also offers a chance to be part of something, as there are multiple events and activities.

I urge you to join, to be a part of this community. It is a tremendous feeling to be part of an activity from the “inside” or “backstage” crew.

For example, in only a few weeks McMinnville will be rolicking with its annual UFO Festival. As much as I generally try to avoid crowds, this is one event I love to attend. I put on something a bit weird and feel that I can let my inner child out to roam for one afternoon.  DSC_0008

My practical side volunteers with Zero Waste McMinnville. I go early to volunteer, thereby grabbing a parking space pretty close to the action.  The work always stops for the parade, so there is nothing lost in volunteering. What you gain is being an active participant in reducing the amount of trash that goes to the landfill.

At the UFO Festival, at the weekly farmers’ markets, at TurkeyRama and at several more public events that attract residents as well as visitors, there are several kinds of tasks that need volunteers. farmers market as

If you are a people person, we need you to help stand or sit by one of the collection station as a Station Host. This is the place where people (learn to) sort their garbage into “recyclable”, “compostable” or “landfill”. There is a bucket for liquids left in drink containers, and another container for cans and bottles. Most of the time, people appreciate the help learning, especially now that Recology had to adjust what can be taken for recycling.  There are, however, always a few people who just get glee out of purposely doing it wrong. You learn to ignore them.

Two other tasks may be for you if you don’t want to interact with people much.  One is the Runner, who uses a 2-wheel dolly and collects the trash bags and brings them back to the sorting station.

The Sorters, wearing gloves and aprons, actually open all the trash bags and then “super sort”, clearly making sure the right trash goes into the right category. Everything is weighed in order to check how the event is doing each year.

Volunteer shifts are generally 3 hours long and some events need 4 people (Farmers’ Market) and some, like the UFO Festival, TurkeyRama and the Highland Games need over 50 people!

  • If you sit at home feeling blue because you don’t know anyone, join us.
  • If you enjoy doing things with your friends, join us.
  • If you want to go to the event, join us.
  • If you have never been to the event, join us.
  • And, for the Highland Games, if you want to go but don’t want to pay admission, join us.

To join in the fun go to the EVENT SIGN-UP page. The volunteer coordinator will contact you and answer your questions.

Changing Old Habits

Oh boy, you don’t need to tell me how hard it is to change old habits.  Each year, for example, I remind myself if I could just stick to that diet for ONE year I would manage to lose the excess I’ve been carrying around for decades. But……well, you know the rest of the story.

So, when do I find myself able to make changes? Maybe it’s similar for you. I believe when the change is not that large, it solves a problem, AND it provides an immediate “feel good” result.

Anyone older than 30 can remember going to the grocery store and there were no such thing as plastic shopping bags. Our purchases were piled into brown kraft paper bags. Remember using them for covering books each school year?  Those are pretty sturdy and last a long time.

Meanwhile, I noticed on my first trip overseas in 1972 and then again in 1981 that paper was rarely used, but plastic bags were the thing. Decorated with logos of the shops, with sturdy handles, these heavy plastic bags also could be reused and reused.

However, here in the United States, the chosen option was thinner plastic that is considered a single-use item but might be able to be reused a couple of times. Maybe more for trash collection (just the right size for those bathroom garbage cans)and also appreciated by dog owners who were responsible and picked up the intended droppings of the constitutional stroll.

These plastic bags most often are tossed into the garbage and then head to the landfill. Most end up buried, to stay there to amuse archaeologists 500-1000 years from now.  Others blow around, end up in waterways and then clogging up sea animals’ digestive systems when mistaken for jellyfish or other food.  I wrote about how we are Swimming in Plastic last week.

So, we have a need to change our ways, and here in McMinnville the time is coming. September 1 marks the date when these thin single-use plastic bags will no longer be available at the major supermarkets and stores in town as well as at any event inside the city limits.  McMinnville joins a small but growing community of other cities in Oregon and around the nation where consumers have converted to re-usable bags.

One of the first events where you can obtain a free cloth re-usable tote is on Earth Day, this Saturday. A recycling event will be held at Cascade Steel’s Rolling Mill from 10-2.  You can bring the plastic bags you’ve collected in that drawer or under the kitchen sink and trade them in for a cloth tote. 

There will be other chances to pick up bags, but yard sales are also a place where they may sell for as little as 10 cents. Some stores, like Roth’s, will offer bags for sale. The McMinnville downtown farmers’ market also has bags for sale.

So, when I learned about this coming restriction I really had no issue. We’ve been using cloth totes just about the whole time we’ve lived here.  I’ve learned to immediately hang the totes on the doorknob after I unpack the groceries so I can take them out to the car the next time I go.  Some bags even fold up into their own pocket which permits them to be put into purses.

I got to thinking about the other times I use thin plastic. The bags that are located in the bulk section as well as the produce section will continue to be available. But the problem still exists with these…they are even thinner so don’t get much reuse and again, they will head to the landfill.

I started searching the Internet for alternatives that would be relatively inexpensive and offer multiple re-use and found-and purchased- one product for use in the stores and another to use instead of plastic wrap at home.

Mesh bags are great for collecting produce and bulk products that are not wet. I purchased a set of nine bags that were on sale for $11.97 on Cleaning is easy- you can just drop them into the wash.  I asked the checker on a day that the supermarket was not busy to see what the tare weight was for the largest and it was 0.03 ounce, so may add a penny to the sale. Roth’s will be selling this kinds of bags and will have the tare weight marked. 

Trying to replace the plastic wrap at home has some choices above and beyond plastic or glass containers. I have seen little plastic circles that almost look like something we used to put on the top of soda cans to try to keep the fizz in if we didn’t drink it all.  Made of BPA-free silicone, these caps cover the cut ends of produce, blocking air.  I found a set of four for $11.95 on

Additionally, moving away from plastic,  I found Bee’s Wrap. Made in Vermont, this organic cotton comes in several sizes and is permeated with beeswax. It seals with the heat from your hands. I found a set of three for $19. They also have a sandwich wrap with a tie string to keep it sealed.





These are just a few options that are available to take the place of plastic in the lives of our food. We can do this change and it really won’t be that hard. Now, if anyone has any great ideas how I can magically lose weight this easily, please let me know!


Now what do I do with it?

The pause in rain and the appearance of the sun are sure signs that outdoor activities are soon to follow.  Here in McMinnville, for example, the downtown Farmers’ Market begins Thursday May 18. It will have new hours, noon-6:00, that will make it convenient for people to pop over on their lunch hour to shop AND grab lunch. Because of construction on 2nd Street, it will relocate to Cowls between 2nd and 1st and also in the parking lot behind City Hall.

May 18th is also the start of the UFO Fest with the parade on Saturday the 20th at 2pm. On that day alone there will be about 20,000 people in downtown Mac!

And people mean……among other things, trash.  Lots of trash.

Before Zero Waste McMinnville started their effort to help divert garbage from the landfill, that event itself resulted in almost a ton of garbage at the landfill. Two years ago over 60% was diverted and last year over 75% was diverted away from the landfill!

What does that mean? It means that with a bit of help learning what can be recycled and what can be composted, only a small portion of the trash ended up in the landfill! Way to go!!!

We have been using  ClearStream stations on loan from Yamhill County Solid Waste Advisor Sherrie Mathison, and have been using them since 2015. Thanks to Sherrie for her support!   Our new ClearStream recycling stations were purchased with grant funding we received from the CAN’d Aid Foundation through their Crush It Crusade recycling program. Our original equipment, purchased in 2015, was also funded by CAN’D Aid, and we are very grateful for their support of our work.

Picture yourself at the UFO parade.



 You get something to eat and then look for a place to stash the trash. What goes where?  It’s simple!!
Items that can be recycled go here!
 Items that can be composted to help enrich the soil go here!
And the rest is trash and ends up in the landfill.
This is great!! Everyone is learning how to reduce their trash and our City will be greener!  We’ll be there to help and if you would like to join the team, we need volunteers for a few hours at each event. Thanks!