John Oliver totally nails our food problems

In 17 minutes, John Oliver totally nailed everything that’s wrong with food in America:

When I was a barista, I set up a donation program for our morning pastries. After 2pm, whatever wasn’t sold went in the garbage, so I arranged for someone from a residential mental health facility to come and pick them up on a daily basis. Sandwiches and salads had a one-day shelf life, and for all the reasons John Oliver discussed, we couldn’t donate them. Our solution was to bag them and place the night’s sandwiches next to the trash bin on Michigan Ave., rather than out in the dumpster, thus unofficially “donating them” to the homeless in the area.

Our dorms here in Dublin have common kitchens, each consisting of four waste bins: glass, waste, plastic and paper, and food. That’s right, food and waste aren’t the same thing. It’s been really great to live in a place where composting isn’t weird, but also a little bit frustrating to watch my American flatmates try to adjust. Not to rat on them, but I’ve found spinach in the waste bin, and plastic bags in the food bin (bins with labels on them as to what you should and shouldn’t throw in). To me, it’s a sign that we’ve conditioned ourselves into thinking that once we’re done with something it doesn’t matter where it goes. Just stick it in a bin, and it’s not our problem anymore.

I could go on, but if seeing this gets one person to eat around the bruise on an apple and throw the core next to a tree rather than tossing the whole thing in the trash, then I feel pretty good about today.

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Video: How to core and quarter tomatoes

I spent a lot of my Labor Day in the kitchen with lots and lots of tomatoes.  I bought 10 pound from my local farmers market and though my intended sauce turned out like juice (this is the topic of another post, perhaps), I thought that it would be fun to start a tiny little how-to video series!

I have tons of recipe books, but sometimes instead of browsing through index after index I find it’s just easier to google stuff that I want to know instantly.

So here I am on the YouTube, in my teensy apartment kitchen (hey, a lot of awesome stuff comes out of that little room…), giving a quick lesson on how to core tomatoes.  The video is tiny, like my kitchen, because it was taken by iphone… but you’ll get the idea.

So, what do we think? Yay? Nay?  Want more of these? Let me know!

Even Master Composters kill their worms

Through a series of unfortunate events, I’ve endured a couple casualties over the past two weeks.  I’ve been worm-sitting for the Glenwood Sunday Market, and am sad to report that not everyone has enjoyed their stay with me…

In short, I killed them.

Ok, well, let me preface that with the fact that many of them are doing just fine, but I crammed them all in close quarters knowing full well that they were too crowded, and a few days later there were dried runaways on the countertop and a not-so-nice smell coming from the bin.

These worms are too crowded, and so were mine.

Then Nancy put the bin outside in really hot weather (she does not have an appreciation for smelly worms).

Then it rained.

All I have to say is, that Darwin guy was pretty smart with the whole natural selection theory, and bravo to the survivors who weathered those storms and are still alive and kickin’.

Moral of this story:

Even Master Composters screw up and kill worms sometimes.  The only difference is that we know why we killed them.  And we’re good at making worm babies to make up for the loss.

Lauren Warnecke, M.S., M.C.


You know you are in good company when a group full of middle aged women in applique vests, young eco-hipsters (like myself), and old men who rent greenhouses for the winter can share a potluck dinner while passing around gifts of worm poo while the mistress of ceremony tells stories about her lifelong passion for compost and childhood trips to the circus to pick up elephant manure.

Last night I proudly and officially assumed the title of Master Composter. So far I think it’s safe to say the I’ve used this title much more than the one for which I owe the US government an ungodly amount of cash.
The MC program was something I did on a whim, but in hindsight it was exactly what I was looking for to engage a change of lifestyle, and perspective. I met new people who are doing incredible things to conserve our resources and reduce waste. Without this program, I wouldn’t look at garbage and wonder if my worms can eat it; I wouldn’t want to make things from scratch, or clean things with vinegar, or mend old clothes instead of buying new ones.
Humbling, indeed