Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about composting…
This post comes to us from Christina Culver at Culver City Salads and is the first of a three part series!
When I was seven years old, dad brought home a large box about a week before Christmas. He wouldn’t tell me and my older brother exactly what was in this box, but he hinted that it held something living and led us to believe that it was a gift for us. We then spent every waking moment laying on the tiled floor listening for any telling noises and guessing for hours on end what kind of pet (or pets) dad got us for Christmas. When the day came, we opened it up to find a giant mass of dirt and composting worms. So when I was asked to speak on the subject of compost, I jumped at the opportunity!
Let’s start one step before the composting stage. Let’s talk food waste reduction. I loved Emily’s post on food waste, she covered so much great turf. If you haven’t read it already, please do. I’d like to add a few of my personal favorite food waste tricks.
- Don’t always trust the expiration date. They often date things a few days before the food could potentially spoil. Use your nose.
- Keep a broth bag in the freezer where you can chuck potential broth worthy bits.
- If you’re a juicer, save that pulp for crackers, muffins or soup stock.
- Turn coffee grounds into an invigorating exfoliating scrub. Simply mix 1 part liquified coconut oil with 1 part used coffee grounds et voila! I mix in some vanilla extract too.
- Cook sad looking veggies into hashes, curries or soup.
- Use discarded lemon slices lightly coated in salt to polish copper.
- Get fermenting! Turn super sad looking veggies and fruit into kimchi or kraut. Make your gut happy with the probiotic qualities of pickled goodness.
I read an amazing article a few months ago (I strongly recommend you read it!) in Outside magazine. It was an eye opener and great reminder that while I strive to keep my footprint tiny there is always room for improvement.
“In the U.S., 40 percent of food—worth an estimated $165 billion—is thrown out every year. It’s an environmental tragedy. The average family of four trashes two million calories a year, worth nearly $1,500. As a result, 25 percent of America’s water is used to produce food that is never eaten, and an estimated 28 percent of the planet’s agricultural land is used to grow food that ends up in the garbage. Food is the single largest solid-waste component of America’s landfills—an estimated 80 billion pounds—and emissions from it are equivalent to the greenhouse-gas output of 33 million cars.”
If your food is to the point of no return the next best option is composting. We don’t realize how much we are hurting our beloved Mother Earth by tossing scraps into the garbage. Over 60% of what we put in our landfills is organic waste. Every metric dry ton of food that goes to a landfill may generate .25 metric tons of methane in the first 120 days. Composting this food waste would reduce emissions by the equivalent of up to 6 metric tons of CO2. Composting can clean contaminated soil. It also stops heavy metals from entering waterways or being absorbed into plants.
So what can we do to make a positive change? Do some research. What composting services are available to you in your community? Before my city started an urban pick up I was saving my compost in the freezer and bringing it to my local farmers’ market every Saturday. When I started working in a commercial kitchen I kept a compost bag in my home kitchen and biked it to work every few days as we had proper composting set up there. If home pick up isn’t a thing yet where you live check in with the local community centres, garden shares and your local farmers’ market. Make sure that what you are putting in your greens bin is okay. Not every system is the same. Are you lucky enough to have a yard? Get composting at home. You will end up with the richest soil ever and the garbage you put out at the end of the week will be dramatically decreased. I challenge you all to make a few small and attainable changes when it comes to food management. I promise it will feel really good, and you’ll be doing this planet a huge favor!
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Images by FP Emily.