Food for Thought: Composting in the Cocina

Compost Stew

Did you know that roughly 25% of garbage in the U.S. is made up of yard trimmings and food scraps? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s over 60 million tons of unnecessary waste, most of which can be turned into a rich soil amendment for your garden or home landscape.

I am calling on all of you environmental chefs and cooks to join me and turn your trash into treasure — for your garden, that is. Even if you’re not into gardening, the compost that’s created from kitchen scraps can be used to enrich the soil near trees, shrubs, or bushes around your home.

By recycling the food scraps that end up in landfills, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint while creating your very own Garden of Eden. Sounds cheesy but catch get my drift!

How do you begin a kitchen composting system?
I recently invested in a stainless steel counter top compost pail that makes it easy to store food scraps without worrying about foul odors in the kitchen. There are several ways to turn this waste into compost, the easiest of which is to pick a sunny location outside, bury scraps at least eight inches into the ground, and toss lightly with a shovel every couple of weeks. If you don’t have a yard or are worried about rodents, there are also outdoor barrels and bins that help facilitate this process.

Compost pail by Lola's Cocina

Eventually the food scraps break down and begin to look like dark soil. I add this soil amendment to my garden and sprinkle it around trees for added nutrients and pest prevention.

What can you compost?
Below is a list I found on the Home Composting Made Easy website that will help guide you in what you can and cannot add to a compost pile.

Kitchen scraps for composting

Do Compost:

  • All your vegetable and fruit wastes, (including rinds and cores) even if they are moldy and ugly
  • Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, noodles — anything made out of flour
  • Rice, barley, and other grains (cooked or uncooked)
  • Coffee grounds, tea bags, filters
  • Fruit or vegetable pulp from juicing
  • Old spices
  • Outdated boxed foods from the pantry
  • Egg shells (crush well)
  • Corn cobs and husks (cobs breakdown very slowly)

Don’t Compost:

  • Meat or meat waste, such as bones, fat, gristle, skin, etc.
  • Fish or fish waste
  • Dairy products, such as cheese, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.
  • Grease and oils of any kind

I hope that you join me in my effort to keep our earth clean and green. Mother Earth will thank you!

Lola Wiarco Dweck

Lola is a Mexican-American recipe developer, writer, and cooking instructor who loves sharing her culture with the world. Growing up in California and spending summers in Mexico, Lola celebrates her family’s Mexican recipes and vibrant culture through Lola’s Cocina.

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