Until recently, it’s a question that didn’t get asked.
Recycling organic matter back to the soil is supposed to be a long term, environmentally prudent, carbon sequestration practice — right? Glowingly green. Halo worthy. Self-righteously gratifying.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on one’s viewpoint, folks are beginning to question all food waste, including the composting of former edibles.
If composting was once a way to waste food without guilt, it is no more. Except for the egg shells, potato peels and the like, that which was once edible food, if allowed to become fodder for the compost bin, is not consumed. It does not feed anyone. Ergo, it is wasted.
Things like that fuzzy green stuff discovered in a leftover container in the back of the fridge, the carton of curdled milk, and the shriveled asparagus stuck to the bottom of the vegetable drawer means the cook prepared too much or a diner ordered too much at the restaurant or the family opted for pizza delivery while groceries languished in the pantry and fridge.
Buying too much prepared food, failing to prepare purchased ingredients, or cooking more than the family or customer will eat wastes food. The fact that the waste is composted does not negate the considerable negative environmental impacts required to get that food from farm to processor to kitchen to table — only to bypass a plate and wind up in the compost bin.
Yes, composting wasted food is far better than most alternatives. But a critical look at wasteful habits could identify opportunities for improvement. Chances are, even the most dedicated composting kitchen — whether residential, institutional, or commercial — can find ways to further reduce food waste while still generating enough scraps and culls to feed all those critters living in the compost pile.
READ MORE: Can I compost oil and cooking grease?