Dairy cows know which side their bread is buttered

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A mountain of “thrown out” bread is piled in the corner of the recycling factory instead of making its usual route to landfill. The squashed rolls and leftover loaves from bakeries, supermarkets and fast food chains are tipped into the specially designed “do want don’t want” machine, plastic wrapping and all. The end result? Breadcrumbs for the cattle and recycled plastic for garbage bags.

Aussies throw out over eight billion dollars of edible food every year. That’s over $1000 on average by every household. But what people think is waste, perhaps isn’t actually waste.

According to Ed Meysztowicz who invented this recycling process, “everything gets turned into something. There is no waste in nature. We have a habit of taking something from nature and using energy to convert it into a material that will soon be thrown into landfill. Food waste, if we must have waste, should not be disregarded. We need to process waste into useful substances and support the land that supports us.”

“Bread is 20 per cent cheaper than using grain in our cattle feed. It also means we don’t have to crack the grain as it’s already broken down, making it more digestible and nutritional for the stock and increasing milk production,” said South Gippsland dairy farmer, Peter Hanrahan.

So what does food waste mean to you?

Australians waste about four million tonnes of food annually. It’s enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks and placed end to end, the convoy would bridge the gap between Australia and New Zealand just over three times. We either cook too much food, don’t use leftovers, forget to check the pantry or fridge before grocery shopping, leave the shopping list behind and shop when we’re hungry so we buy more food than we need.

What’s the big deal?

Besides rotting food in landfill giving off a greenhouse gas called methane which is 25 times more potent than the carbon pollution that comes out of a car exhaust, when you throw out food you also waste the water, fuel and resources it took (as you’ll see in our From Paddock to Plate videos) to get that food from the paddock to the plate.

Mat Pember from the Pop Up Patch picks up a big handful of worms as the Melbourne skyscrapers glisten in the morning sun around him.

“Nothing is wasted here in the community garden. People put so much love, passion and dedication into growing their own fruits and vegetables in these veggie crates that there is no way they are going to throw anything away with a slight mark or bruise on it. In fact, people learn to appreciate these small defects because the flavour and nutrients in the food when picked ripe, is all the reward you need.”

An estimated 20-40 per cent of fruit and vegetables are rejected before they reach the shops mostly because they don’t meet the consumers and supermarkets high cosmetic standards. But not at this urban sky farm that was once an unused car park.

Then there are the vertical foodwalls that embrace the challenge of growing food and managing food waste in even the most confined spaces.

Marc Noyce is the man behind this highly water efficient vertical wicking garden bed, which is capable of producing over 130 kilograms of vegetables per year in a tiny 4m2 space. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this foodwall system could produce enough fresh vegetables to meet the average vegetable consumption of two Australians, 56kg per person, for an entire year.

“Fresh produce in a typical Australian food basket may travel a combined 21,000 kilometres, or more than half way around the earth, from its origins to our kitchen tables. Imagine the fuel consumption! We can reduce those food miles from thousands of kilometres to mere metres. Our vision is to turn cities into catchments and food bowls. We want all Australian households to boost their self-sufficiency and sustainability by producing a large chunk of their own vegetables,” said Marc Noyce, Chief Executive Officer, Biofilta Pty Ltd.

At Monbulk Primary School, students are encouraged to bring lunch to school without disposable packaging (which has reduced the school’s rubbish by 85 to 90 per cent) and compost all food scraps. The compost is then used on their flourishing vegetable garden, which students harvest to create school lunches.

“We decided to create a compost bin and we had an electric composter donated to us to put our food scraps in. We now save money on our skip not having to be emptied as much and the garden, chickens and worms benefit,” said Harry Edwards, School Captain.

“Since reducing our food packaging we have saved money to buy more resources for our classrooms. We feel we are making a difference to the environment and looking after it. We’ve also noticed that the students are eating healthier food,” said fellow School Captain Amy Archer.

This video will be available to teachers who are subscribed to the national From Paddock to Plate Schools Program in January 2017. Click here to subscribe.

Louise FitzRoy | Founder & Director
From Paddock to Plate

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After all our recent weather events, here is a photo that is definitely worth sharing! Thank you to Barb Eulenstein at Boola in NSW for your amazing photography skills to capture this incredible moment. #FromPaddocktoPlate #feedyourmid

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