Healthy Soil, Healthy People: Why Composting Food Waste Is So Important
May 9, 2018
Every year, a third of the food we produce is wasted. That alone is a travesty, but what’s even worse, is the wasted food often ends up in landfills, where without proper airflow, it decomposes and emits methane into the atmosphere. One of the most effective ways to cope with food waste is something we can all easily do: composting.
Have you ever looked into your kitchen garbage and seen nothing but scraps of food? By transforming that pile into compost, we can return fundamental nutrients back to the soil, an incredibly important natural resource that must be constantly nurtured. The concept is so easy; what you take out, you must put back in!
Here’s Why You Should Care
There’s a very close link between soil health and human health, with 95 percent of our food starting in the ground. But our soil is under a lot of pressure these days, and our farms are on the verge of big trouble. The world’s population is expected to hit 9.8 billion by 2050, which means increased food production and more competition for land and other natural resources.
According to the Compost Council of Canada, the level of organic matter in our farmland is rapidly dropping, which results in compacted soil with low-fertility, and crops left prone to diseases and pests. It’s a vicious circle, and poor soil quality means farmers become more dependent on fertilizers and pesticides in order to increase and protect their yields.
There’s a great line in a book I’m reading called Compost: How to make and use organic compost to transform your garden. The founder of the organic farming movement, Sir Albert Howard, once said, “Artificial fertilizers lead to artificial nutrition, artificial animals and finally to artificial men and women.”
Composting Is Essential To Food Security
If we take the food we waste and compost it, we can put all of those nutrients back into the soil and create the perfect environment for our plants and crops to grow well. Healthy and good quality food can only be produced if our soils are healthy. If plants have the ability to drink up all of the nutrients in good soil, then you can only imagine what we’re eating when foods are grown in heavily-polluted and nutrient-deficient soils. Protecting our soil means we are also protecting ourselves.
So Many Birds, One Stone
In addition to ensuring food security, composting is also one of the best weapons we have in fighting climate change. A study out of California found adding compost to grazing lands actually pulled carbon dioxide out of the air and into the ground. In fact, researchers say that composting one ton of food waste resulted in the long-term capture of at least one ton of CO2 from the atmosphere. More soil carbon means better soil fertility; the grazing land involved in the study saw a 50 percent jump in productivity. And get this: the carbon-trapping results of just one application of compost lasted 10 years!
We All Have A Roll To Play
The responsibility can’t just fall on the farmer’s shoulders. We can all do our part! Composting has the ability to help mitigate many of the issues facing our world today. By properly recycling our food waste, we can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change, while also ensuring food security. Compost is time-tested and so fundamental to keeping our planet healthy, and yet many of us still don’t do it. Even if you don’t have many gardens to fill at your own home, you can get involved in community composting initiatives.
Brushing your teeth is a part of your daily routine, and some say making compost should be too. It makes sense, doesn’t it?