Let Us Talk About Lettuce

When I was in college I spent my summer breaks working in a lettuce processing plant. We took hundreds, maybe even thousands of heads of lettuce and cleaned it, chopped it, washed it some more, spun it dry (think of a salad spinner the size of your extra-large capacity washer) and packaged bagged salads for major restaurants, grocery stores and other food distribution centers. We were supposed to process X number of boxes of lettuce during a shift. This was paramount, it was frowned upon if we didn’t make our quota. Why? Because any lettuce that was not processed by the end of the day had to be thrown away.

Cesar Zuniga gestures to piles of salad gone to waste.

Cesar Zuniga gestures to piles of salad gone to waste.  (photo: NPR)

So, when I came across this article, it caught my attention. Most of the lettuce we processed came from the West coast. To know that they have the same “use it or lose it” approach for perfectly good produce was both fascinating and sad. It was good to know that the farm donated as much as they could, that wasn’t an option for us here. It was and is seriously frowned upon.

Actually, it’s illegal.

Do you know what a headache it is to donate raw or already processed foods to pantries, homeless shelters or other places that could use it? Companies unwilling to donate or charities rejecting the produce isn’t the issue. Most of the time it’s the health department who steps in and puts a stop to the donations, but some cities have ordinances against it as well. So instead of helping people, perfectly good food gets thrown away. Combine that with what the Average Joe throws away on a daily basis and it’s no wonder our landfills are inching closer to capacity.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American households throw away $1,600 worth of food annually. Feeding America states twenty percent of American households reported either food insecurity or low food security in 2013.

What is food insecurity?

It means people don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

Think about that for a minute. You have a family that’s not sure it will be able to eat while another family is tossing out food –like lettuce and salad mix–because they didn’t get around to eating it. With millions going hungry, it makes absolutely NO SENSE for food to be tossed. It’s as mind-numbing as homeowners who water their lawns during a California drought for fear of plummeting real estate values. Because you know, dying of thirst is perfectly acceptable so long as you collapse on a lush, green lawn.

A serious change needs to occur in California and the rest of the country. A good place to start: Only buy what you need. This will cut down on the amount of thrown-away food. Also, composting; it’s no longer just a good idea, it’s a necessity. Composting is not just good for the environment because it decreases waste and the buildup of methane gas in landfills, composted soil creates healthier, more robust crops and heartier plants. More crops mean more food. More food means more people eat.

I know that most believe composting is this huge, complicated endeavor that takes years to set up and master. Well, that’s just not true. Check out our Composting 101 article and that’ll help get you started. And when you’re ready to shrink your environmental footprint, we have all the equipment you need to get you started. The link is at the bottom of the page.

It’s been several decades since I worked at the processing plant, but I remember the experience each time I buy salad mix. Now that I know the rest of the story, I’ll buy less and what’s left becomes dinner for the family bunny or material for the compost heap not part of the mountain of greens threatening to bury us all.

Composting: Do Right by Mother Earth in Minutes

We all have busy lives and sometimes adding one more thing to your “To Do” list increases stress levels. The Health Benefits of Gardening are HUGE, and you can do your part, taking just seconds of your day.

From the dirt it came, to the dirt it shall return. photo via University of Washington

From the dirt it came, to the dirt it shall return. Image via: University of Washington

Composting is the easiest and best way to nourish plant, tree and vegetable gardens. Plus, you can chat up your coworkers about scientific stuff like nitrogen and organic compounds, looking like a master gardener all the while.

#1 Composting Trend for Spring 2016:

Bokashi Tea is full of nutrients for plants and an effective, natural method for cleaning drains. Compost virtually anything – the most popular items to compost are fruit and vegetable scraps. Our Bokashi system is simple and easy to use, a more intelligent way to compost – plus, it’s environmentally beneficial.

The Bokashi revolution is upon us. Join the movement!

Home Composting Made Easy by WindowBox.com

Nitrogen (N) + Potassium (K) + Phosphorus (P)

Have Composting Questions? You can reach our skilled staff at 1-888-427-3372, Monday-Friday; 7am-5pm PST – or, email us with your questions, 24/7: Service@WindowBox.com

Ready to get started on your first [or 50th] container garden project?

Browse our current offering of Backyard, Bokashi and Kitchen Composters that are sure to benefit any garden, or read More About Composting

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