As Utah’s only hard cider maker, Mountain West prides itself on using as many local ingredients as possible. And now, they’ve taken that to a whole new level, with a sustainable twist.

The Salt Lake City–based cidery has teamed up with nonprofit The Green Urban Lunch Box to create a product that’s as good to the taste buds as it is to the community.

On a Mission

When Shawn Peterson founded The Green Urban Lunch Box, he set out to change the way Salt Lake City eats. He’s done just that through a range of innovative programs, from putting gardens into the backyards of low-income seniors to training the next generation of farmers how to market and think creatively about their businesses. The food-focused organization’s biggest program is called FruitShare, and is designed to keep fresh fruit from going to waste. If homeowners have a tree in their yard they can’t possibly use all the fruit from, they can go online and register their tree or orchard. Then, when the fruit is ripe, they can schedule a time to have volunteers come out and harvest their apricots, peaches, pears and other fruit. Of the bounty, the homeowner keeps up to a third, the volunteers get up to a third, and the final third (or more) is donated to hunger relief. What can often be a burden — having hundreds of apricots rain down on one yard can be overwhelming — has been transformed into a valuable community resource.

Last year, 397 volunteers spent 1,524 hours harvesting 47,392 pounds of fruit from 2,261 trees. Anything overly ripe, buggy, damaged or otherwise inedible is preserved, composted or fed to The Green Urban Lunch Box’s farm turkeys.

Drink Up

Photo: Haley Shapley

So where does Mountain West, owned by husband-and-wife team Jeff and Jennifer Carleton, fit into the picture? To create their ciders, they need apples. The Green Urban Lunch Box has those in spades. And so, the two joined forces to create the limited-edition Green Urban Lunch Box Hard Cider, which prevents locally harvested apples that aren’t commercially presentable from going to waste by turning them into a 6.9 percent ABV bottle-conditioned dry cider. The hyper-local beverage is naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts that are present on the more than 20 varieties of apples (all from Salt Lake County, with 95 percent from individual homeowners).

From the sale of every bottle, $5 goes back to local food banks and other related organizations. But if you want to do good while drinking something good, hurry up — the small-batch cider is almost gone, so grab a bottle and cheers to reducing food waste.

Read More:
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Eco-Friendly Elixir: How to Save Water by Drinking Alcohol

By Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of publications, covering everything from sustainability to fitness to travel. Read more of her work here.