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Nearly 1/3 of all food is wasted. Organic materials that wind up in the landfill produce methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Additionally, 17.9% of Hamilton County residents are food insecure. With so much food available, we need to figure out how to reduce waste and get it to the people who need it the most.
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The home consumer of food. Home consumption accounts for nearly 40% of all food waste.
Buy only what you need. The greatest contributor to food waste is over-buying. Research your recipes, make a list, shop your pantry, buy what you need, and store your food properly.
You want to reduce the temperature by moving leftovers to the fridge or freezer. There is a temperature range that is ideal for bacterial growth. By reducing the time food products are in that “danger zone” you can maintain a wholesome reusable food product.
Your home food scraps are not generally donatable. They can however be re-used to make dishes for your family. If you have unopened food that is wholesome and healthy you can consider donating them directly to a local food pantry or you can use them to make a meal for a soup kitchen. Having a relationship with a food access point is important. You’ll better understand the needs of your community and how to best help those in need.
Commercial and restaurant food service providers: learn how to donate your food here: Food Donation Guidelines.
Generally, yes, if you think it looks good, tastes good, and smells good, you can probably use it safely for home and family consumption. Remember to store your food safely after eating. That means reducing the temperature quickly and keeping the temperature low until you’re ready to reheat the food.
You can take a cooking class with a local food recovery organization like La Soupe, you can sign up for a wasted food seminar from Hamilton County R3Source, or you can search for cooking demonstrations at a local restaurant or grocery store.
Hamilton County R3Source has a great online food storage guide. You can also visit the USDA’s FoodKeeper or the University of Georgia’s National Center for Home Food Preservation.
It is generally not recommended to compost meat or dairy in your home compost. Meat and dairy can attract pests that could cause other problems. Composting meat and dairy requires an expertise, access to commercial grade equipment, and commercial quantities of organic waste to produce an internal temperature high enough to kill off pathogens. Before composting check your municipal code, there may be restrictions on what can be composted at home.
In Hamilton County, Back2TheDirt, Compost Now, Findlay Market, GoZERO, and Queen City Commons offer service. You need to sign up with the provider, directly. You can visit R3Source.org to learn more
Food waste is a byproduct of over-buying and could easily be used to address the issues of global hunger. In Hamilton County, 17.2% of the population is food insecure. People go hungry for many reasons including cycles of poverty, disability, lack of employment opportunities, and the challenges of parenthood. The cost of hunger is well documented and cost the US nearly $1 Trillion each year.
Nitrogen (wet, green food waste) produces odors. Adding carbon (dry, brown stuff like shredded paper or dry leaves) will keep odors low. You could alternatively keep your compost in the freezer until you’re ready to take it outside.
Compostable plastics usually takes a commercial facility where the larger items are typically ground down, and there is enough sun, water, and heat to break down the material. You can try composting this plastic at home, but it is generally advised to send this material to a commercial facility. It will not break down in a landfill and cannot be comingled and recycled with other plastics.
Use a kitchen collector that fits your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to have a lid, though some people prefer that. Personally, mine is an old utensil holder, it’s made of stainless steel and has a solid bottom.
Composting on site will reduce your carbon footprint, you won’t need to have as much waste transported away. Composting off site or sending to a collection service is still a good option. Compost is a great soil amendment. It’s also a great activity for the family. Decomposition is a part of life. You can use composting to teach your family about the food web.
Compost helps return nutrients to the ground. When a plant grows it uses nutrients from the soil to produce the vegetative elements we eat. Returning food scraps to the soil helps to restore those nutrients.
Yes, locally Compost Now and Queen City Commons offer these services.
Compost is a man made, organic matter that has broken down into a soft, dark amendment that can be added to soil to increase the nutrient quality of the soil. Soil is a mixture of rocks, sand, humus and other finely broken-down material which results from weathering and geological cycles.
It is generally not advised to compost meat from carnivores or omnivores. Cat and dog poop are not good for your compost. However, herbivores like rabbits are a different story. Rabbit poop has been called “compost gold” for its high nutrient quality.
Decomposition is a part of life. Compost is made up of organic scraps. Nitrogen-rich materials are the wet, green things. They produce an odor, especially if oxygen isn’t present. Turning your compost to allow oxygen to flow and adding carbon-rich materials – the dry, brown stuff – will help keep odors low or unnoticeable.
Food in a landfill decomposes without oxygen present. This anerobic environment leads to the production of gasses which cause obnoxious odors. It also produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.