As a new blogger for Taste Before You Waste, I was feeling pretty good about myself for joining the fight against something I truly believe in. Like many people, I was raised not to leave food on my plate, because there are starving children in third-world countries somewhere. My family used leftovers and froze rotten bananas to make smoothies and made French toast out of dry bread, my mom even going one step further and scrupulously inspecting all my chicken bones before she let me dump them into the compost.
When I got older and began cooking for myself, I very wisely realised that vegetables in my fridge did not tend to see the inside of my stomach. I’m a picky eater and as soon as they were the least bit slimy I would throw them out. So, I soon stopped buying vegetables; or if I did buy vegetables, I bought only enough for one or two days, to be sure I would eat them and not throw them away (for health’s sake, I now make an effort and buy one green thing every time I go shopping, and then cook it for hours to disguise the nasty worm-eaten parts). Apart from that, I have a stellar record, and I have been witnessed powering through an entire pot of burnt rice or dry leftover pasta just to avoid throwing it away. If I’m honest, the main reason I signed up for Taste Before You Waste was to help other people reduce their food waste.
But as I read more into food waste and learned the ins and outs, a sinking feeling set in. When I was in Vancouver, I merrily chucked all my potato skins, carrot peels, chicken bones and apple cores into the compost. The municipal garbage service came and picked up the compost bin every week, and I could sleep well knowing that my greens were being properly disposed of. But when I moved to Amsterdam, with no easy way to compost, I started throwing all these things in the garbage instead. It’s kind of hard to claim I don’t waste food when I throw away all the trimmings of every meal, every time I cook. So I think it’s time again to take another look at my culinary disposal habits and see what I can do.
As luck would have it, it turns out it’s not completely impossible to compost in Amsterdam, though it is a little complicated, especially since so many of us live in high-rise buildings without our own gardens. But there are several organizations that help provide facilities or tips on how to make your own compost.
Residents of Amsterdam West have it easy – the Luistervink, or “Curious Finch,” provides a public compost as part of their community garden. Le Compostier has a wealth of information about composting projects going on in the Amsterdam area. Stads Compost and BuurtCompost both provide information on setting up neighbourhood composts, and BuurtCompost has recently initiated an exciting underground compost pilot project in Amsterdam East.
If you live near one of these compost facilities, here is your chance to put those vegetable peels to good use! I live in Amsterdam West so my compost of choice is the Luistervink. Of course, apple cores and mouldy berries are only part of the problem, and there is still much work needed to combat food waste before it even gets as far as your unusable greens. But composting does help prevent the greenhouse gases that are created when rotting food slumbers away for years in the landfill, and it’s a good place to start.