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Wednesday, June 02, 2010 

Food Scraps Collection of Santa Barbara

Do you know where your food scraps go and how much of it goes there? Eric Lohela in Santa Barbara knows...and has done something about it. The blog, Serious Eats had a little time and caught up with Eric for an interview.

....The Food Scraps Collection Program collects food waste from restaurants and schools, trucks it to a composting site, places in it long rows called windrows, and turns it regularly by large machines to introduce oxygen into the pile.

Voila! The waste is now soil used by local farmers to grow more food, or goes to parks. Essentially, this program transforms waste into a community resource.

Lohela is the face of the program, and when he speaks about landfills being the largest source of man-made methane in the United States, he speaks with as much gusto as he does when he talks about loving his bicycle. His passion is evident, and he manages to share his practice and the facts and statistics of his program without making me feel like I'm listening to a lecture.

One such statistic is that around 25,000 tons of foodscraps are put into the local Santa Barbara landfill every year, and Lohela's team is working to put a serious dent in that number. The project is attractive to businesses because composting foodscraps is less expensive than landfilling, and businesses pay less for this service than trash.

..."We have to recognize that everything comes from somewhere and goes somewhere. This couldn't be more true than with food." With his Food Scraps Collection Program, he proactively tackles the latter conundrum, and for the former, he uses his buying power to support local farmers.

Lohela now lectures about eating locally. "Are you growing food?" he'll ask. When most people inevitably say they don't, he responds, "If you're not growing food, and I'm not growing food, then we're just kind of hoping that someone else is. That's just crazy!" The industrialized food industry does not sit well with Lohela.

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