3 years ago we moved out of Toronto, to 'the country', and in addition to leaving my favourite Empanadas behind, I was also forced to give up composting.
But Steve... you moved to the country, why did you give up composting?
Because in the City it was easy, I just put all our food scraps in the bin, hauled it to the end of my driveway and in the spring the City would dump a huge pile of soil at the end of our street for everyone to use.
So when the local municipality from our new house offered us one of those 'electric composters' for only $100, I jumped on it.
I've been using our food cycler for almost 3 years and on a personal level I like it. Our garbage output has gone down, and we've been mixing it into our garden soil and our veggies seem to be growing well.
As we zoom out, I feel like the good guy who's fighting climate change, because apparently only 5% of the nearly 66.2M tons of food wasted each year (in the US) actually gets composted.
"The result is that food is the single most common material sent to landfill in the US, where it releases methane, a potent climate-warming gas, as it breaks down." (The Guardian, UK)
But, like all things, there's a flip side.
What comes out of an electric composter is not 'compost', it is simply ground down and dehydrated food scraps. I was able to confirm this because if given the chance my dog tries to eat these food-like bits, but turns her nose up at regular soil.
And according to one expert - Ron Alexander referenced the above Guardian article - when he tested these dried scraps in his own garden, the 'compost' turned moldy and killed the plants it was supposed to be fertilizing.
A better way to describe the material might be 'food grounds', because:
“Using the term ‘compost’ flippantly puts billions of dollars of composting infrastructure, and all the work that’s been done to build it, at risk,” he said. “I think it is going to put a blemish on real compost products. I hope that the FTC or the government steps in and puts an end to this.”
In the end, it seems the best way to reduce food waste is to:
2- Give it to someone else to eat
3- Give it to an animal to eat.