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Old 03-19-2013, 07:26 PM   #1
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Cool Composting and free food

Recently started composting in earnest. Went by our local supermarket and asked the produce manager if we could use any veggies that they were throwing away for our compost. He invited us to come by in the mornings and get a box of stuff - whatever might be left after the 4-5 others who routinely do the same have grabbed what they wanted.

Started going to the store in the mornings and I'm dumbfounded by how much produce they throw away daily. Probably half of what we've grabbed was still perfectly good to eat too - just not "perfect" for display/sale. Wish I had started doing this sooner.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:59 PM   #2
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dumpster diving freegans everywhere these days
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:42 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
(..) I'm dumbfounded by how much produce they throw away daily. Probably half of what we've grabbed was still perfectly good to eat too - just not "perfect" for display/sale. Wish I had started doing this sooner.
yep, I remember watching some documentary about one guy in the UK, who is running commercial biogas production, to heat his greenhouses. His feedstock, was mainly bananas, discarded from supermarkets 9local, i presume). The guy was moving it around using bulldozer, he had literally small mountains of them
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:25 AM   #4
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Another good source of free organic matter for the compost pile, or for tilling into the garden is OPFL (Other People's Free Leaves).

Around here, people bag their leaves in the fall and put them along the road in front of their house for the city trucks to come pick up. You can get mountains of organic material this way.

Leaves contain lots of carbon, so it is best to balance it out with green material or some source of nitrogen when you compost.

Sometimes you hit the jackpot when someone has shredded their leaves before bagging.
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
Recently started composting in earnest. Went by our local supermarket and asked the produce manager if we could use any veggies that they were throwing away for our compost. He invited us to come by in the mornings and get a box of stuff - whatever might be left after the 4-5 others who routinely do the same have grabbed what they wanted.

Started going to the store in the mornings and I'm dumbfounded by how much produce they throw away daily. Probably half of what we've grabbed was still perfectly good to eat too - just not "perfect" for display/sale. Wish I had started doing this sooner.
I am a produce clerk at the only grocery store in a town of 5000. We cater to about 10,000 people a day (we cater to the surrounding county also). We throw away about 1500 pound of produce a day. People will not buy something if it doesn't look like its squeezed out of a tube. Watch the banana rack. Almost every single person buys a) from the top, as high as they can reach. b) breaks one banana off the hand c.) won't buy if the rack isn't three quarters full. It's all psychological, and believe me, it's all been mapped out. I fed my fifty chickens for five years on throw away produce, had a compost pile as high as a house.

The grocery I work for made taking home throw-away stuff a dis-missable offense, the party line was that someone was getting it for their hogs and selling it and someone got sick and sued. whatever.

Thirteen years of watching the behaviour of the people in the grocery store, I don't give us much hope.
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Last edited by Jay; 03-20-2013 at 07:50 AM. Reason: edification
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:55 AM   #6
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So your store doesn't even give it away to the public any more? That's a shame. What an incredible waste of organic material and energy.
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:55 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Unobtanium View Post:
Another good source of free organic matter for the compost pile, or for tilling into the garden is OPFL (Other People's Free Leaves).

Around here, people bag their leaves in the fall and put them along the road in front of their house for the city trucks to come pick up. You can get mountains of organic material this way.

Leaves contain lots of carbon, so it is best to balance it out with green material or some source of nitrogen when you compost.

Sometimes you hit the jackpot when someone has shredded their leaves before bagging.
we've been doing this for about fifteen years. Since we had a sawmill, I dumped five ten yard trucks of sawdust, five trucks of turkey litter from the nearby turkey farm, about five hundred bags of leaves every fall, and all the chicken litter from the free produce I brought home. We have about eighteen inches of nice garden soil, but nothing will grow very well anymore. The climate has changed and the intensity of the sun has changed. The plants incinerate, no matter how well they are mulched. I thought I was imagining this, but I just read a paper on it, so apparently its real. We have destroyed the earth. Nothing will grow after May on the west side of our house (I'm in Central Texas) but the east side, which is more sheltered from the sun, does OK. Unfortunately, that is not where we amended the soil.
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:57 AM   #8
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Sounds like you need to plant some deciduous trees (fruit/nut bearing preferably) to give filtered shade in the summer.
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
So your store doesn't even give it away to the public any more? That's a shame. What an incredible waste of organic material and energy.
I work for a major grocery chain (Here Everyones Bigger). We provided the food banks in Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and North Mexico with all the damaged goods (dented cans, etc.) to the tune of billions a year. Its a cushy tax right off. The chain cut a deal with the vendors to get a 10% rebate on purchases to cover damages (buy 1mil worth of CocaCola, get back a check for 100,000). Then, we donate the damages to the food banks and write it off. The meat scraps go to the dog food company. (old meat is ground into hamburger). There is no law regarding shelf life of meat in Texas, other than it must be removed from the shelve when it begins to smell noticeably or when it turns green. The sell by dates are for the convenience of us. Only the produce and dairy go into the trash now. (granted, thats a LOT)
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:05 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
Sounds like you need to plant some deciduous trees (fruit/nut bearing preferably) to give filtered shade in the summer.
yeah, we planted pecans. Right now I have peaches, nectarines, plums which are doing really well but they don't provide much shade.
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:06 AM   #11
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My local grocery is part of that chain. They are letting us grab some of the produce they are throwing away (we have only asked for produce - not anything else).
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:30 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
My local grocery is part of that chain. They are letting us grab some of the produce they are throwing away (we have only asked for produce - not anything else).
good. Not everyones an idiot.
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:35 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
My local grocery is part of that chain. They are letting us grab some of the produce they are throwing away (we have only asked for produce - not anything else).
If they have a deli/bakery, you might want to ask them to save five gallon food grade buckets for you. We throw away about 10-15 a day, free for the taking (but no one wants them). I have so many they are stacked empty everywhere....
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:40 AM   #14
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Will do. Thanks for the tip!
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:24 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jay View Post:
We have destroyed the earth. Nothing will grow after May on the west side of our house (I'm in Central Texas) but the east side, which is more sheltered from the sun, does OK. Unfortunately, that is not where we amended the soil.
watch this ted talk and be amazed -


its all about getting the right amount of litter etc on the surface at the right time
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Old 03-21-2013, 03:46 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by rblong2us View Post:
watch this ted talk and be amazed -

Allan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change - YouTube

its all about getting the right amount of litter etc on the surface at the right time
we have gardened with six inches of mulch and lasagne gardening. What I was referring to is the difference in intensity of the sunlight and the UV rays. The plants die no matter what the soil is like. I read an essay on this, I thought it was my imagination but apparently its real, and a result of geo-engineerig.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:51 PM   #17
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Re:Composting and free food

New Green City 2012 is a unique platform for New Yorkers to help make New York more sustainable.Take a closer look and get to know this year's participants
at http://www.greenmarket.grownyc.org/n...ity/exhibitors
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:12 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by sharon_honore View Post:
New Green City 2012 is a unique platform for New Yorkers to help make New York more sustainable.Take a closer look and get to know this year's participants
at http://www.greenmarket.grownyc.org/n...ity/exhibitors
with all due respect, NYC is the epitome of unsustainable. as are LV, LA, and any other place that requires water and electricity.
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:05 PM   #19
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I once had a guy working for me who dumpster dove for food to eat, even after I was paying him 6 figs as a programmer - it's the habit of his entire extended family to do so. This cat paid off a house in Blacksburg VA (not cheap!) while working at McDonalds, never even making manager, doing this as a way to save money. And I thought *I* was Scottish...

No, most places won't give you the stuff. But if you find out when they toss it, you can come and get it. Depending on where you live (eg how many poor people there are around who actually need the stuff), it can be quite abundant, no competition for the good stuff.

And most of it is fine to eat. You just have to use a bit of judgement, there's usually so much that what you wouldn't want to eat you can toss back in the dumpster - or compost. I don't do this myself, but I learned how from my guy, just in case. At this point, my time is worth more. But that might not always be the case.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:48 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
I once had a guy working for me who dumpster dove for food to eat, even after I was paying him 6 figs as a programmer - it's the habit of his entire extended family to do so. This cat paid off a house in Blacksburg VA (not cheap!) while working at McDonalds, never even making manager, doing this as a way to save money. And I thought *I* was Scottish...

No, most places won't give you the stuff. But if you find out when they toss it, you can come and get it. Depending on where you live (eg how many poor people there are around who actually need the stuff), it can be quite abundant, no competition for the good stuff.

And most of it is fine to eat. You just have to use a bit of judgement, there's usually so much that what you wouldn't want to eat you can toss back in the dumpster - or compost. I don't do this myself, but I learned how from my guy, just in case. At this point, my time is worth more. But that might not always be the case.
I ate out of dumpsters for years, and only got sick once, and that was because I was drunk and the guy TOLD me the meat I was getting was bad, and I ate it anyway. (That was a BIG mistake, puked for days). Your employee sounds like my filipina wife, who cherry picked every box of produce trash I brought home for the chickens and gave it away to her friends. Lots and lots of good stuff there...
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