• Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.

Visualizing Food Waste VII

This may set the record for the longest infographic ever, but it covers plenty of ground! Not sure I’d characterize food waste as a plague, but I’m a traditionalist with that word (Bubonic, locusts, etc.)

Overall, it makes for neat viewing. The most eye-opening stat: The average supermarket tosses $2,000 of goods past their “sell-by” date every day!

Facts About Food Waste
For further info, check out the original Facts About Food Waste post.

February 20, 2014 | Posted in Stats, Supermarket | Comments closed

Better Luck Next Year

Figuring out the EU food waste stance has never been easy. There’s the European Parliament, European Commission, EU FUSIONS and more. Yet, I thought I had one thing figured out: 2014 was going to be a key year. It was going to be the European Year Against Food Waste.

Wrong.

While keeping track of the exact details is tricky, here’s what we know: In 2012, there was a push to make 2013 the year, but that didn’t happen. Later that year, the European Parliament called on the European Commission (more of an executive branch) to declare 2014 the European Year Against Food Waste. There seemed to be some optimism and even definitive reports to that effect.

Kindly Disregard This Logo

One of the reason for optimism: The EP designed these neat graphics. And because they did, we’re all beneficiaries. They remind me of the 1986 Red Sox World Series Champions patch my dad owns (For the uninitiated, let’s just say that Red Sox were not champions that year).

Yet, I didn’t see anything year-of-waste-releated during January. And then I got the news that I’d long feared–2014 would not be the Year Against Food Waste.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. On the upside, though, the news item declared that the Year Against Food Waste has been postponed. So maybe 2015 will be the year. All they have to do is edit the 4 into a 5…

February 17, 2014 | Posted in International, Legislation | Comments closed

Wormiture

If your furniture could compost food, why shouldn’t it? Form and function are nice, but how about adding even more function?! Since you’re probably going to have furniture in your home anyway, why not fill it with composting worms?

Those were a few of the questions that informed the Vermiculture Furniture course at Ohio State.* The ten-week class was a collaboration between architecture and art professors and it invited students from many disciplines to “design with the compost cycle in mind, and invite worms into the home.”

In the class, students designed home items to house red wigglers, the standard food-scrap-chomping worms. The designed worm habitats included rethinking the sink to include composting scraps, a decorative vermicomposting pottery and a scrap-depositing chopping block.

The class and the results remind us that design can play a proactive role in keeping food out of landfills. And that a little unconventional thinking is long overdue! When 97 percent of our food scraps end up in landfills, it’s time to seek new answers.

Best of all, the class produced an excellent final product, illustrating their work–the Worms in Our Furniture “vermibook:”

*Food waste must really be in the air at Ohio State, as some students and dining services employees are calling for more action on the topic.

February 11, 2014 | Posted in College, Composting, Vermiculture | Comments closed

You Say Bad Tomato, I Say Mostly Edible

It’s always good to keep in mind that a tomato with a bad spot…

…usually just has a bad spot, and is otherwise flawless:

January 29, 2014 | Posted in Household | Comments closed

The Compost Bowl

It might be a white Super Bowl, but it’ll definitely be a green-ish one. For the first time, food scraps from the Super Bowl will be composted.

That’s not a huge suprise, given that MetLife Stadium, host of this Sunday’s big game, has separated and composted food waste for two years. Still, it will be nice to see composting happen on such a grand (and cold) stage.

The composting will happen under the auspices of the NFL environmental programs, which has a five-tiered program for the Super Bowl. Minimizing the materials sent to landfills is one pillar, as is prepared food recovery. As NFL environmental program head Jack Groh told me, the NFL has been donating edible but unsold Super Bowl concession food to local charities for 20 years.

Given the NFL’s history of donation, it’s surprising that composting hasn’t happened sooner. The lack of composting has likely stemmed from a lack of awareness and stadium infrastructure. And so there’s even more reason to celebrate Sunday’s composting. It’ll mean 7 to 8 tons of food kept out of the landfill. And that will be just super.

January 27, 2014 | Posted in Composting, Events, Food Recovery | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

Boom! Rhode Island’s state legislature proposes a landfill food waste ban and the private sector leaps into action, with news of a planned composting facility near Providence.

— —

I really enjoyed this Food Hacks piece on regrowing food from the ends and other undesirable parts of herbs and veggies. If I had any use for carrot greens, I’d definitely grow them from carrot ends. Although, in reality, I seldom cut off the ends of carrots…

— —

There’s been a decent amount of talk about supermarkets turning to composting contraptions like the Harvester. There’s this TakePart article, for which I was a source, and then the King 5 news story below. Overall, it’s a positive trend, but reducing waste and donating unsellable food should take precedence over any form of composting.


— —

On a similar note, hoteliers are warming up to composting machines.

January 24, 2014 | Posted in Composting, Household, Legislation, Supermarket, Technology | Comments closed

V is for V-Carrot

This past summer I shared several examples of alphabet produce. While I haven’t seen many of those wonderful oddities recently, given the decreased homegrown and farmers’ market produce, I recently came across this beauty on my last market outing:

This carrot makes a great ‘V’ and could even double as an ‘A.’ It also makes a perfect ‘greater-than’ (or ‘less-than’) sign. As in:  Carrot-with-character > regular carrot.

The internet tells me that you can use double symbols to emphasize your point, so:     V-carrot >> regular carrot.

And if you really want to get crazy, you could even use it as a circumflex (ˆ). Whatever you see in this humble carrot, though, it’s a good reminder that real food has curves. Or sometimes 30 degree angles…

January 16, 2014 | Posted in Alphabet Produce, Farmers' Market | Comments closed

2014: The Year of Food Waste Recycling?

We’re just beginning this new year, but talk of diverting food from landfills–be it by composting or anaerobic digestion–abounds. And that’s a very good thing.

In Connecticut, January 1st meant the start of a new law requiring some businesses within 20 miles of a composting facility to recycle their food waste. While the specifics still feel odd—food recycling is mandatory  for businesses producing more than 104 tons per year–the Nutmeg State is grinding toward sustainability.

image courtesy of Frederick County, MarylandDown the road, New York City is continuing to ramp up its food waste recycling efforts by striking a deal with trash big boys Waste Management. The company has started to deliver food waste to a Brooklyn wastewater treatment plant that is already converting another kind of waste to energy.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts is gearing up for July, when its commercial food waste landfill ban goes into effect. The state hopes the ban will help it reach overarching waste reduction goals and is providing some funding for AD facilities to beef up the food recycling infrastructure. And as with most things Massachusetts, the Red Sox are involved.

But how do people feeeel about composting?? According to a National Waste and Recycling Association online survey, people are into it. Of those not already composting, 67 percent said they’d be willing to if their city or town had a program. Yet 62 percent of respondents say they wouldn’t tolerate composting if it meant a price increase.

Looking into my crystal ball, I’d bet that food waste diversion will increase annually. I’ll be able to write this same post every January, hopefully, as each year promises increasing amounts of food recycling. By the economics alone, throwing food in landfills is a real …waste.

— —

Update: Rhode Island may be adding their name to this conversation! On Monday (1/13/14), Rep. Donna Walsh, D-Charlestown, introduced a bill to the General Assembly that would ban food waste from landfills by 2021.

January 10, 2014 | Posted in Anaerobic Digestion, Composting, Energy | Comments closed

Keep Your Waste Stream Relatively Clean In 2014

Happy New Year, y’all! As we make a boatload of resolutions for the year ahead, let’s put wasting less food at or near the top of our lists.

Providing inspiration, the European Union has made noises about declaring 2014 the “European Year Against Food Waste.” At least the European Parliament urged the European Commission to designate it as such. While that hasn’t actually happened, the urging in itself provides some hope. And the EC has put together a useful site with some helpful tips and an inspiring video.

Whether or not it’s officially adopted in Europe, let’s individually declare 2014 our own year against food waste. That might take on different looks, but it doesn’t have to include grand changes.

Here’s a tiny example of waste avoidance to hopefully inspire you to trim your own food waste in the Year of the Horse:

I recently bought a bulk pack of oranges. It wasn’t possible to see all of the oranges in the package, and I was disappointed to find that two had soft spots (as pictured here):

Rather than compost the oranges, I thought of how I might still use them. As they say nobody says, when life gives you damaged oranges…slice away the soft part.

As you can, the remainder was perfectly good…and perfectly ready for a smoothie. Two minutes later, my kids and I were enjoying a healthy, drinkable, mid-morning treat. And all because I didn’t immediately give up on a few slightly imperfect oranges.

So next time you’re about to compost or–much worse–discard some food, stop for a moment. Consider if there might be another use for that item. If necessary, do a little research. And I’ll bet that more times than not, you’ll find an alternate use for something you’d considered useless.

Let’s make 2014 a wonderful, waste-free year!

January 1, 2014 | Posted in Household, Personal | Comments closed

NYComposts!

Yesterday, New York City took a major step toward matching San Francisco and Seattle as exemplars of urban composting. The New York City Council approved a bill requiring large scale commercial operations to separate food from its regular waste stream.

The legislation, which requires either composting or anaerobic digestion for large food waste generators within 100 miles of NYC, will keep thousands of tons of food out of landfills. The law goes into effect in July 2015 with a six-month grace period without fines to ensure smooth adoption.

The measure passed the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, which also passed a bill banning single serving food items packaged in polystyrene, which will make it easier to recycle the city’s food waste.

Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the bill’s proponents are confident that creating a steady source of organic waste will jumpstart the composting infrastructure. In addition, there’s talk of sending food scraps to an existing anaerobic digester at a Brooklyn wastewater treatment plant. The Committee Report (opens in MS Word), has full details on the legislation, including the somewhat-understandable typo “aerobic digestion.”

Mayor Bloomberg had this to say on the encouraging news:

Today’s City Council vote is a significant step towards our PlaNYC goal of diverting more waste from landfills. Over the past few years we have launched a variety of recycling efforts including the food waste challenge, through which city restaurants and institutions have already recycled 2,500 tons of organic waste.

December 20, 2013 | Posted in Composting, Legislation | Comments closed
  • Buy the Book

    CBA Winner Badge