We spent an enjoyable evening with Dr Compost (a.k.a. Craig Benton) and his lovely partner Tina the other night. Craig told us that a third of the food we buy ends up in the bin. I can see for myself that this must be true. I'm starting a compost heap, and the sheer quantity of material that goes into the kitchen composter is unbelievable.
The Irish government has sponsored a wonderful website, written by Craig and friends called Stopfoodwaste.ie Government policy is based around prevention of waste. By not generating waste we eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste. Encouraging people to reduce their food waste is a large part of the challenge.
The site has good ideas about reducing waste. For example it recommends serving food on platters and letting people help themselves, to reduce the amount of scraps on plates (also good for the waistline)
I think that we are conditioned by TV chefs to waste larger proportions of food than our mothers did. Most of these TV chefs have been trained in posh restaurants where every lettuce leaf needs to crinkle seductively and every tomato slice must be identical. However in the home we don't need to eat like that! For years I discarded the outer leaves of lettuces. Recently I've discovered that its those very leaves which have the most flavour! Our understanding of nutrition is changing too. I try not to peel fruit and I haven't peeled a potato in years. Even mashed potatoes can be made delicious with their skins left on. (The peel just disappears into the mash.)
However, even with those sorts of measures my compost pile is growing, so I consulted Craig for ideas. I live in a flat with a roof garden. There is no room up there for the wonderful row of large turnable heaps that you'd find in a country garden. Craig has recommended a wormery. I'm slightly concerned at the thought of more pets about the place, (can you take compost worms to the vet if they get sick?) but he's persuaded me that this is the best route. And the output - a fine till of worm casts - is caviar to pot plants!
So this weekend weather permitting I'm starting to make a series of stacking bins. Go to Build your own composter for all the info.
Contact Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to stopfoodwaste.com for permission to use the images.