Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Introduction to Composting

I bear a certain—well, I'm not sure how to phrase it. Quirk? Condition? Compulsion?

Throwing away food makes me sick

If I wanted a cop-out, I would blame it on genetics. I inherited my Babi's love of animals, adoration of cream, hopefully her wit, and her inability to discard edibles.  

While such a predilection could presumably be virtuous, there are heinous downsides. Like swallowing down impossible-to-store leftovers despite fullness lest it be cast in the garbage. It's worse on major occasions, like family dinners or heavily-guested Shabbosim; invariably there is one salad or—heaven save me—a POTATO side dish that will not survive the night.

I am cognitively aware of the illogicality; I aspire to Spock, after all. Yet every time, I flinch as though pinched whenever good food goes into the trash. (Ma sometimes manages to hurriedly chuck it while I'm not looking.) Yet it's certainly no better when I eat when stuffed for the sake of a starch. 

In my searches, I had come across the whimsical concept of composting—collecting kitchen scraps and other waste for the purposes of sparing landfills, and in return gaining garden nourishment. What my house discards in daily banana peels alone could power an alternate-fuel RV.   

I began cheerfully hoarding kitchen scraps, purchasing a merry green compost collection pail for the purpose. It soon became clear that one would quickly overflow on heavy output days, like erev Shabbos; I bought a second for spillover. 
So what can be composted? Well, a lot of things. Not just vegetable peels, apple cores, and watermelon rinds, but egg shells, used paper products like towels and tissues (provided that questionable chemicals haven't been applied), tea bags, coffee grounds, dead flowers, and junk mail, for starters. Some say not to compost meat, dairy, or heavily fatty scraps, lest messy critters like raccoons be attracted, but trace amounts are fine. 

The test was a visit to my sister for Shabbos, an outing that typically ends in my "noble" consumption of residue. This time I toted along my new pail. Child-abandoned challah? I carefully wrapped it in a napkin and put it in. Cooled cholent? In it went. Limp cabbage salad? Heartlessly scraped in. 

I even—I even—I even managed to—oh, how it pained me—to ram in a slice of kokosh cake.

I happily hauled home a brimming pail, my belly spared a diabolical end. 

In our next session, we'll explore what to do with all that schoira.    


Daniel Saunders said...

Is composting not a big thing in the states? You talk about it as if it's a new and secret thing! We used to have a compost heap in our old old house (the one I grew up in). Although it was garden waste that went on that, not food waste. Currently in the UK there is a lot of official recycling of food waste and garden waste - we get recycling bins along with rubbish bins (grey for unrecyclable rubbish, blue for paper, card, some types of plastic, cans and the like, green for garden waste and a smaller brown bin for food waste). I don't know what happens to the food when they take it away. Looking online, it looks like some is used for energy production and some for fertiliser.

Princess Lea said...

Americans are lazy and wasteful. That's why we fought for independence from your country. Some areas with hippie roots out in California or nice ones like Canada have more official programs, but I live too much in the NY area. No one cares about the environment here. There's bare-bones cardboard and plastic recycling.