4 Local Businesses That Are Fighting Food Waste in NYC

Brooklyn-based small-batch yogurt company The White Moustache transforms the leftover whey from its yogurt making process into probiotic popsicles and tonics. Photo via White Moustache/Instagram

The NYC Department of Sanitation’s Foundation for New York’s Strongest has announced the winners of its inaugural microgrant program that awards $2000 for businesses to help implement new strategies for managing organic waste. Continue reading “4 Local Businesses That Are Fighting Food Waste in NYC”

Kingston Food Waste Management Plan Still Two Years Away

Kingston, NY has been granted $63,000 in federal funds to create an organic waste management program. Photo by Rebecca Murphey/Creative Commons

Kingston residents eagerly awaiting the possibility of citywide compost will have to be patient. Officials stated last week that the Kingston Organic Waste Management Plan is underway but will likely take two years to realize. Continue reading “Kingston Food Waste Management Plan Still Two Years Away”

Corbin Hill Food Project Connects Upstate Farmers to South Bronx Families

Corbin Hill Food Project founder Dennis Derryck at Corbin Hill Road Farm. Photo courtesy of Corbin Hill Food Project

The Corbin Hill Food Project is forging new connections between upstate farms and residents of the South Bronx, all while redefining the traditional farm-share model.

Continue reading “Corbin Hill Food Project Connects Upstate Farmers to South Bronx Families”

Don’t Miss: NYC Food Waste Fair

Last year, New York City began requiring businesses of a certain size to recycle their food scraps, either by hauling it themselves or hiring a private carter. The law is part of the city’s effort to deal with the 650,000 tons of food waste produced by businesses annually, and eventually send zero waste to landfills by 2030.

A change on this scale is not easy to implement, and in order to assist businesses on their food waste journey, the Foundation for New York’s Strongest will host the NYC Food Waste Fair, an expo-style event with workshops, digital content and live demonstrations, on June 27, 2017.

The organizers hope to equip New York City business owners and managers with the knowledge, tools and connections they need to build a food waste prevention plan from scratch, or take existing programs to the next level.

What: NYC Food Waste Fair

When: Tuesday, July 25, 2017 // 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Where: Brooklyn Expo Center

Price: $50

More info: NYC Food Waste Fair website

The exhibit hall will showcase dozens of vendors offering food waste prevention, recovery and recycling services. And workshops will provide information from city government officials on how to comply with laws and regulations, as well as tips from experts on how to achieve tangible, cost-effective results.

5 Reasons I Love Composting in NYC Right Now

I know this sounds crazy, but moving to an apartment with curbside organics pickup has changed my life.

In my last apartment, I saved up my food waste throughout the week, storing it in the freezer to reduce smells, and then hauled it to the local greenmarket on Saturdays.

Sounds easy enough, but over time it drove me crazy. My refrigerator was old and small, and one or two bags of compost took up almost all of my freezer space. If I missed a weekend drop-off, things were suddenly out of control and, critically, I had no room in my freezer for actual food ice cream.

It was also just gross — I tried my best to keep things tidy and sealed, but there were leaks and drips, and at least once I had a fruit-fly massacre in my freezer. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds.

But now that I have curbside pick-up, I have reclaimed my freezer (yay, ice cream) and I find myself composting even more because there are no space limitations: into the bin goes paper, bread, dairy, even meat and bones.

The Department of Sanitation hopes to make curbside composting or neighborhood drop-off sites for food scrap/yard waste available to all of the city by the end of 2018. Photo credit: Scott Lynch/Gothamist.

My love for the brown bin goes beyond the size of my ice cream stash, though. Read on for five big reasons why I can’t stop composting.

5 Reasons I Love Composting in NYC Right Now

  1. It’s really easy—and getting even easier. Organics collection in NYC just keeps on growing—more than a million residents now have access to the program, and city officials estimate that all residents will have access by 2018. Game changer! Literally all you have to do is collect your food waste and dump it in the bin. Move it to the curb on trash day, and whoosh, your compost disappears, along with your garbage and your recycling. Thank you, DSNY!
  2. I never take out my trash. Well, almost. The DSNY estimates the single largest portion of our trash is organic material—meaning it could be composted. If you’re an avid reduce-reuse-recycler (that’s me waving my hand frantically), then after sorting properly, there’s almost nothing left to throw away. My trash can takes forever to get full, and I estimate that I’ve saved roughly $5 million on trash bags already.
  3. No stinky smells. This is huge, especially in the summer. Because my kitchen trash can isn’t full of decomposing food, my household garbage basically never smells. It’s awesome. I won’t lie, though, the brown bin outside can get pretty stinky. Luckily, biodegradable compost bags or bin liners are sanctioned by DSNY and help cut down on the ick-factor quite a bit.
  4.  Pest-free living. Some folks are hesitant to try composting because they fear the bins will attract pests. I’m here to tell you that’s a myth! In fact, the opposite is true: putting food waste on the curb in plastic trash bags is essentially inviting rats, roaches and other critters to have a midnight feast at your expense. Locking all those tasty food scraps inside the city-provide brown bins, however? That actually does keep pests at bay…unless your neighborhood rats have super-human strength and opposable thumbs, in which case we’ve got bigger problems.
  5. A zero-waste future. NYC’s organics collection program is about more than just composting—it’s part of a larger, city-wide effort to go completely waste-free by 2030. Is it possible? Who knows, but composting our food waste is an easy way to get a little closer towards that goal. Plus, in the not-to-distant future, you could help power the city with your used coffee grounds and old pasta salad…how cool is that?

Do you participate in curbside compost pickup? Share your composting tips in the comments!

My Favorite Countertop Compost Bin

One of the best parts about composting is that it requires no special equipment to get started. Anything can be a bin — an old yogurt container, a large tupperware, even a plastic bag in the freezer. As long as you have a place to take your compost regularly, you can get started right now.

That being said, sometimes having the right equipment can make things easier. I’m not a huge proponent of buying more stuff (or kitchen clutter or single-use gadgets or plastic, to be honest) but I recently upgraded my countertop compost bin and I’m not mad about it.

A Better Bin

For many years, I used a classic ceramic jar to collect my scraps (you know the one). When the jar got full, I’d empty the slop into a plastic bag and store it in the freezer. It was fine, but there were occasionally issues — especially when dealing with particularly ripe or *juicy* food waste. Plus I always forgot to replace the charcoal filter.

Now that I have curbside organics pickup, I’ve changed my system a bit. Our building has asked that all residents use biodegradable bags in order to keep things tidy—a compromise I’m happy to make if it keeps people composting—and I decided to get a bin specifically made for these bags.

Not me or my kitchen counter…but I do use this compost bin!

Enter the Full Circle compost collector. This bin is specifically designed to work with biodegradable bags and even though it has a few little flaws, I really, really love this thing.

Here’s how it works: the bag (I prefer these 3 gallon Biobags) clips in around the top with a stainless steel bar and essentially just hangs down inside the grey shell — this enables air to circulate around the compost. The air flow is key: not only does it evaporate any excess moisture, it also keeps the bag from breaking down too fast and magically eliminates almost all odors. It sounds weird but I find that it actually works. Also? Zero fruit fly infestations.

Once a week, I take the whole thing apart and pop it in the dishwasher.

My only complaint is that the lid, latch, and the bar that holds the bag in place all feel a little flimsy–like, if I get a tad overzealous in my composting, something might snap off. That being said, I’ve been using this container for eight months now and it’s still working just fine, so…maybe I’m just paranoid!

If I have any complaints I’ll be sure to update this post, but for now, I’m smitten with my new bin and find it a completely reasonable investment.

Now, let’s hear from you: how do you store your compost?

 

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Your Morning Latte is Seriously in Trouble

Whether served up like art at a high-end coffee bar or sloshed into a paper cup at the corner bodega, New Yorkers drink a lot of coffee. In this city, thousands of independent shops go toe-to-toe with Starbucks without flinching, and we even have our very own annual Coffee Festival.

But the city that never sleeps may soon face a caffeine shortage (along with the rest of the world), thanks to our inability to curb carbon emissions. A new report released by the nonprofit Climate Institute indicates that climate change will have a stark effect on the world’s coffee supply.

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A coffee farmer inspects his crop in Colombia’s southwestern Cauca department. Photo credit: CIAT/Creative Commons

The study warns that coffee-growing regions could see a 50% drop in the acreage suitable for growing coffee plants, which need a precise combination of temperature and precipitation to thrive.

In addition, the report highlights the way warmer weather could lead to an increase in diseases like coffee rust, and pests like the coffee berry borer.

Major coffee-producing countries in the “bean belt”—including Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Vietnam—are already facing challenges because of shifts in weather patterns.

To make matters worse, more than 120 million people in more than 70 countries rely on the coffee industry for their livelihoods.

“It’s a severe threat,” said Doug Welsh, the vice president of coffee at Peet’s Coffee and a member of the board of World Coffee Research.

Think about that next time you brew up your morning buzz.

 

 

Here’s What You Should Know About Apple Season This Year

If you want to get technical about it, apple season officially started back on September 1st. But if you’re anything like us—feeling just a smidge of denial that summer is over—it’s possible that typical fall activities like apple picking haven’t been exactly top of mind.

Turns out, we may be rewarded for our procrastination—according to author and apple expert Dan Bussey, the best apples are those that actually ripen later, around October through December.

So, as the calendar inches ever deeper into autumn, maybe now is the time to visit one of the many family-owned apple orchards near New York City! But don’t book your trip before you read these five things:

  1. Above Average: Despite a challenging growing year (think frost, hail, and drought, to name a few), New York growers are on track to pick some 30 million bushels of apples this year, slightly above the states average crop of 28.6 million. New York is the largest apple-producer east of the Mississippi, and second only to Washington state nationally.
  2. Smaller but Sweeter: About that aforementioned drought—the lack of water, while stressful for trees, made this year’s apples crunchier and sweeter. With less water content, the concentration of sugar in each fruit is higher, even though they may be a bit more petite. Sounds good to us!
  3. Hard to Pick Just One: New York grows more apple varieties than any other state, and that includes classics like McIntosh, Empire, and Red Delicious, as well as new favorites like Honeycrisp and Ginger Gold. Some types aren’t even available in stores, only at roadside stands or orchards.
  4. A Family Affair: There are nearly 700 commercial apple growers in New York State, and many of them are family-owned businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation. When you support those growers, you’re supporting farm families and keeping jobs here in New York State…not to mention keeping some 55,000 acres in farmland.
  5. Go Beyond: In addition to fresh apples, New York State is also home to 22 cideries, so you can grab a bottle with your bushel. And, don’t forget, New York City Cider Week is coming October 21-30! And do we even need to mention apple cider donuts?

Now that you’re in the know, check out this list of the best apple orchards near New York City—go forth and pick!

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Freshly picked apples. Photo credit: Shinya Suzuki/Creative Commons