Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Day 2: You should never waste a good egg!

Blimmin' 'eck. I hope I've not put you off your breakfast or made you splatter your coffee over your keyboard.

But look at me. Not my usual calm self, I admit.

But this is how I used to feel on bin day! When I would drag the wheelie bin, with its huge bags of rubbish and couldn't believe the weight of it all.

Would you believe half of it used to be food waste?

There'd be meat bones and chicken carcasses as well as kids' leftovers. Dig deeper and you'd find gone off food, often still in its packaging, as well as a bunch of banana skins stuffed in too - all because the kitchen compost bin was overloaded.

Like most households across the land I'd be scraping the plates and bunging in dregs of the day's menu into the kitchen bin and a few days later it would stink like a troll's armpits after a bath in a ditch of rotten slime.

I never valued leftovers, or the time I'd spent cooking, or even the cost of the ingredients.

But I did care about the smelly old bin and the stink it caused as well as the flies and maggots in summer.

Consequently when I started the Rubbish Diet, one of the first tasks was to eliminate food waste. I soon realised that this was a serious issue and by reducing what we could we would be reducing the methane that such biodegradable matter could create when buried in landfill. I knew we'd save money too, by buying less and using up more.

After all, according to the LoveFoodHateWaste campaign, the average household throws away one third of food that otherwise could have been used.

It's like a whole load of your shopping falling into a blimmin' black hole.

Hmm....so that'll be a bit like this then!

So we quickly held a family meeting to gather ideas and the kids had a lot to say. And I cooked more of their favourite things. It helped to reduce some waste, but we still had more than a few leftovers to manage because I was hopeless at organisation, terrible at planning and awfully lacking in the ability to deal with my three-year-old's fluctuating appetite.

Then I discovered was one thing that could really truly help.

A Bokashi!

Yes a Bokashi!

Now it might sound like a nasty old sneeze, but it's indeed a landfill saver for those who don't have a local authority food waste collection.

And it's magic. You just bung unusable food in a special bucket, sprinkle over some bran that is impregnated with Effective MicroOrganisms and a few weeks later after leaving it to ferment, you can add it to your compost, wormery or even dig it into your garden and it will break down into nutrient-rich organic matter. Much better than landfill and because the temperature of Bokashi is significantly lower than if buried along with the rubbish, there is no issue with methane.

But how disgusting does that sound in practice?

The idea of lobbing your slops in a bucket and letting it hang around for a few weeks, then a month later you end up putting the fermented matter in a corner of your garden. Eurgh!

It's hardly an attractive proposition is it? And it took me a long time to convince myself that this would be more favourable than a stinky old bin.

I worried about the smell of the Bokashi and quite rightly so. It could have been one step too far. But I was reassured that if I could cope with a pickly scent I'd be fine. A whole year on, the system is still fully operational and it's great. Indeed last year's contents have broken down into fabulous compost that we've now spread on the vegetable patch. And the liquid it creates as a by-product has been used as plant food as well as drain cleaner.

But the interesting thing is when we first started out, we'd easily fill it up in just a couple of weeks. That's how much food waste there was. But thanks to careful food preparation and reducing and then reusing leftovers, it now takes up to six weeks to reach capacity, which I would say is a real result.

However, a year on we still have a problem with some food waste - thanks to the lovely lad with the fluctuating appetite. It's not much but still enough that it continues to need managing.

So with potential rubbish on my hands, I have asked the question could I go back to throwing it in the rubbish bin?

After all, this is my Maximum Waste Week.

So this morning I sat and gave it some deep thought and I then seriously considered the consequences.

I then looked at the bowl of leftover Weetabix - or rather the slops of the Sainsbury's Wholewheat Biscuits, the ones that we bought only the other day.

Then I thought about adding them to my rubbish, actually holding the bowl in position, ready for the dregs to slip into my almost empty bin.

Now that made my stomach turn.

The thought of having food waste languishing in my kitchen bin for a whole week or even two, remaining untreated and gradually decaying all seemed a horrible proposition.

It now seems a step too far.

And just imagine the stench once you add scraps of meat, slops of baked beans and anything else that stinks the house out. Then there's the thought of the flies and the maggots as soon as the weather warms up.

Yuk! I don't think I could go back to that.

I never even got as far as thinking about the methane, in the unlikely event that my small amount of food waste would actually end up in landfill.

So folks, I guess another one bites the dust as far as this Maximum Waste Week is concerned.


Landfill is dead! Long live Bokashi!

Or so you might think.

You see, on the journey along the road of wasting less and enjoying more, we've made another discovery that will help us make even better use of what little food waste we have.

And they come in the form of three special girls, who came clucking our way just this weekend.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to Speckly, Snowflake, and Chickie, three gorgeous little hens who are settling into their urban crash-pad in our garden. Perhaps you can guess which is which. It really shouldn't take long to work it out.

I would never have guessed that the road to reducing food waste would result in such a fantastic experience. And the great thing is, the money we've saved in the process has paid for the hen house!

And our lovely chooky chooks have even got cracking on laying eggs. Just look what we found yesterday.

So on day 2 of my funny old Maximum Waste challenge, I must be the happiest failure alive. I'm most definitely a convert and apart from the old giblets, I don't think we'll be throwing out any food waste to landfill again.

What was that about giblets?

Blimmin' 'eck

What in the heck's name is that squawking?

What was that? You say you now know why the chicken actually crossed the road?

Oh dear, I don't think we'll ever be able to eat a roast chicken again.



Maisie said...

I wish I had space for chickens9 looks on whistfully).

With the bokashis can you put cooked meat bones in it??

That is really the only food waste we have that has to go into the landfill bin. Any other scraping etc go into a tub and are taken to the work dogs at DH work.

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

I am a Bokashi nut as well. Meat/fish/fat/bone are all digested by the active fungus. Using it for months, food efficiency has increased markedly.

Great to see the new arrivals. It will be fascinating to see the egg-laying facts and figures. I hope the boys are ready to help with the various chores.


Hi Maisie - we've just got a small suburban garden, so not much space at all. However there is enough space for them to have a good scratch and peck around through the course of the day.

I feel bad at the moment because we have to keep the hens in the Eglu for a few more days, but very soon they will be able to enjoy the space in the garden.

Yes you can put meat bones in, but I'd only recommend the smaller more tender variety. I've gradually got used to using mine for chicken bones after I've made stock. So they're much softer to break down.

Looks like there'll now be an end to that. :-D

Hi John - it's great isn't it to see how little food you start throwing away once you're conscious of such things. The boys are getting right into the thick of it with the chickens already, feeding them and changing their water. It's coming to the point in the week where we now need to change clean out their droppings tray. :-D

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Chickens are great, they are also addictive, as I expect you have already found out!

Compostwoman said...

Hurrah! Another chicken convert!

But wait till you see what they can do to a garden......

Layla said...

YAY for the chickens!! They're so lovely!! :) And the EGG!! :))

Wish we could have them too, not enough space here..

And the bokashi is VERY interesting! - Just curious, are there worms inside it or not? and do you also have a compost heap or just the bokashi?

/plus, what will you do with the chicken poo?:)/

Condo Blues said...

I'm wondering if you have to have a compost heap to use a Bokashi too. I'm looking for alternatives as my composter and contends froze this winter with all of the ice and snow we got last winter. And be honest, does it smell?


Thank folks for all your comments. I'm afraid that following a couple of really late nights, my eyelids are now drooping and I just have to go to bed. Will be back to follow up the comments in the morning..."night night". :-D x


Hi Peter - ~LOL, they are getting addictive. And I am bemused how long you can stare at them when all they're doing is scratching the ground and pecking. But there is something so relaxing about that gentle clucking sound. They are gorgeous. :-D

LOL Compostwoman, I've already seen what they've managed to do in the run...I now know what you mean. I'll find out soon because in another couple of days, they'll be let loose in the garden...aargh :-D

Yay Layla. The egg was such a wonderful surprise. And we've since got ourselves another!

The Bokashi bucket is an enclosed container which doesn't need worms. The trick to the system is the Bokashi Bran which is "a carefully controlled mixture of microscopic bacteria, yeasts and fungi that work together to speed-up composting, suppress pathogens, prevent putrefaction and eliminate foul odours."

I borrowed that last bit off the Wiggly Wigglers website, as they are the experts.

When full, we take out the juice from the nozzle in the bucket, then pour the contents into the compost. As half of the contents can be quite wet I like to mix it into the rest of the compostables and add some cardboard or newspaper on top.

Now as for the chicken poo. That'll go into the compost bin too, as well as be dug into the ground. :-D

Hi Condo Blues. If you've got a temperature issue with the composter, then I'm not sure whether the Bokashi will help, because the contents are too much as you'd need to bung in it in the compost or into the ground...and digging in freezing conditions would be difficult.

Regarding the smell, yes it does but only when you take the lid off the bucket as it is securely sealed. The smell doesn't bother me because it's like a vinegary cider, probably caused by the yeast working at it.

I hope that helps. The important thing to remember is that it needs somewhere to go once it's broken down. :-D

Layla said...

Thank you so much for the explanation!!

It makes much more sense now..
I did research these things a bit in the past, I guess I sort of mixed them up a bit!!
(maybe the name of the company confused me!)

Big thanks & a hug to your part of the world!
+ YAY for the new egg!!

Karin said...

Wonderful to see your chickens. You'll be able to tell them apart easily. Is the white one an Amber? I think it may lay white eggs.

Apparently having an egg in the first week doesn't seem to be all that usual when buying point of lay chickens, but, like us, one of your birds, presumably the brown one as your speckled hen/pullet looks like she has white ear lobes, must have been pretty much 20 weeks when you got her.

Our first layer has only missed one day since 19th February.

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