Serena Caner, registered dietician

COLUMN: Composting your excess calories

One of the bad habits I adopted as a parent is eating my children’s leftover food.

One of the bad habits I adopted as a parent is eating my children’s leftover food.

Sandwich crusts, half-eaten apples, dried-up carrot sticks. It didn’t seem to matter how unappealing the food or the state of my appetite, because the habit was not related to hunger, but my aversion to food wastage. Luckily, I discovered a way to reconcile this habit by reframing the situation: composting.

Suddenly, unwanted food scraps were not filling my garbage can, heading for a landfill. Instead, they were being transformed into valuable nitrogen, enriching my garden soil.

Currently, it is estimated that over 30 per cent of the material entering our landfills is organic, compostable materials. The slow, anaerobic break down of organics in a landfill releases methane, a greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere. The aerobic breakdown that happens in your home composter does not.

Backyard composting not only reduces greenhouse gases and garbage, it saves you money on buying fertilizers or manure. To work effectively, composts do need some attention, making sure you have a mix of carbon (dead leaves/grasss), nitrogen (food waste), oxygen and water.

Luckily, the CSRD has some great resources on giving your compost some love on their website: http://www.csrd.bc.ca/services/solid-waste-recycling/composting-information. On this site, you can even order your own backyard composter for $40.

If you don’t have a garden, there are other options. Vermicomposting, or composting with worms is an option. Off-site composting is another option that has already started in Salmon Arm. Many businesses and organizations are sending their food waste to be composted at larger-scale sites, and curb-side collection is in our near future.

Composting is a great way to transform unwanted food scraps into a useful product. It can preserve valuable space in our landfills, and provide a home for unwanted calories on your plate.

Need compost for your garden? The CSRD sells this yard and garden waste compost, Kickin’ Compost, which has been tested and meets all health and safety parameters, at the landfill.

-Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.

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