Garden Club on Mission to Reduce Food Waste

Courtesy photo    This display from the Earth Day Festival in April clearly demonstrates just how much of a typical trip to the grocery store will end up being wasted. Alameda Backyard Growers has been striving to change this trend.

Summer is an especially wonderful time to enjoy fresh produce. Tomatoes, green beans, peaches and berries all beckon us to enjoy them. 

But fresh produce spoils more quickly than other food. So summer is a good time to talk about preventing food from going to waste. 

It’s hard to believe, but 40 percent of all food produced in the United States is wasted. We can do something to change this, because 43 percent of all food wasted in the U.S. is wasted by households. Simple changes can reduce wasted food and return nutrients back to the soil by composting food scraps. 

Many gardeners compost to help manage their food waste. Adding compost to your garden: saves water by helping the soil hold water, increases crop yields by adding nutrients, keeps the soil loose so roots can get air and keeps valuable organic resources out of landfills. 
Composting provides the conditions for nature’s crew of decomposers — bacteria, fungi, sow bugs and worms — to work. 

The rules of composting

  • Add roughly equal amounts of browns and greens;
  • Keep the compost pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge; and 
  • Turn the pile occasionally to aerate it. 

Green compost items

  • Fruit and vegetable trimmings
  • Inedible fruits and vegetables 
  • Coffee grounds and grass 
  • Other green plant clippings

Brown compost items

  • Newspaper
  • Fallen leaves
  • Pine needles 
  • Unseeded straw 

Composting tips

  • The smaller the pieces in the pile, and the more one turns the pile, the faster it composts. 
  • Seriously consider a rodent-proof container if composting food waste. 
  • If only composting food waste one can also use a worm bin. Find great, detailed information on composting and worm composting at stopwaste.org/preventing-waste/residents/make-compost.

If composting in the yard isn’t possible, put food waste in Alameda County Industries’ green bin instead of the gray trash or landfill bin. 

Another great way to manage wasted food — generate less of it. It’s estimated that households waste 25 percent of the food they purchase. Simple changes in planning, prepping, storing produce and using leftovers can reduce food bills and landfill discards significantly. 

This summer, Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) conducted its first Stop Food Waste Challenge. Participants observed their current food management practices, learned and tried tips to keep their food fresh longer and avoid waste, and changed their habits to save money and reduce their landfill stream. 

If interested in joining the next challenge, email ABGFoodWaste@gmail.com. To learn more about stopping food waste, visit 
www.alamedabackyardgrowers.org/projects/stop-food-waste-challenge or www.stopfoodwaste.org.

 

ABG is a network of gardeners in Alameda interested in growing food and donating fresh produce to neighbors who face food insecurity. Find the schedule for ABG’s monthly education meetings at www.alamedabackyardgrowers.org.