Praise the Table Scraps

Posted on Jan 14, 2015 | 4 comments

There is a silver can on the counter for kitchen scraps. In the mornings we put used coffee grains and the paper filters, now cold after the aroma has faded, into the bin. By midmorning broken eggshells, a paper towel and a bit of leftover oatmeal have been added. Lunch and supper bring additions of lettuce trimmings, those last beans left in the pot, the bruised end of a banana.

If it’s been a big cooking day, there may be a large bowl out on the countertop to put all the carrot ends, the potato peels and celery bits. The fridge clean-out that adds some old yogurt and stiff spaghetti noodles can create a golly-wow bonanza for you chickens. We use the bowl, not the silver bin for the chickens. They are not allowed coffee as the thought of caffeinated poultry is a bit scary.

few chicks and buckwheat

Between the chickens we had in Arkansas and the new chickens of Five Apple, there was a long gap where the compost bin was the only destination for scraps. This is something of a letdown compared to a dozen biddies going bonkers over the influx of treasure in a mosh pit of chicken joy.  But the composter does make lovely fine compost for the garden and it was far far better than throwing away the raw material of the next great garden season.

After you’ve been composting a while, or feeding chickens a while, seeing other folks throw away food scraps feels like such a waste. It’s a waste in the sense of ‘dang that was great stuff lost’ —like you threw a perfectly good sweater you really liked in the trash can— not waste in the sense of ‘I compost therefore I am greener than you.’  Though the aghast look on your face watching that big bowl of stale cooked rice hit the garbage can be mistaken for the latter. It’s not.

eggs in bowl

Composting is just one way to close the loop at the homestead. This sounds so clinical somehow, but there is this visceral satisfaction when you grow things, you eat things, you have food waste, the waste feeds the animals or soil (and also entertains and pleases the animals), the animals produce waste, their waste feeds the soil, the enlivened soil grows even more things, and the cycle goes on. It’s full and abundant, a circle, everybody wins. How rare is that in this modern world? You feel clever, lucky, and humbled too. All from tossing your food scraps in a bucket and feeding it back to your land. What a bargain.

yellow butterfly on ironweed


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love, Leigh

—A Larrapin Garden in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Posts may be boom or bust depending on the season, but if you subscribe here you’ll get one weekly email with selected posts. You are also invited to get garden related miscellany at the Facebook page or on Twitter. The Pinterest boards (habit forming!) are here.

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  1. Dear Ms Larrapin — I SO get what you mean about seeing the waste go to, well, waste. I hate it every time I do it. One of the things on my long list of “to do’s” is to start a vermiculture bin. Your blog post has nudged me just a bit further. There’s a one day course on it at the local AB Tech, very cheap, and you go home with a bin ready to use. Perhaps this is the year of the worm! Thanks for all you do. Your blog is not only stimulating, but the photos are beautiful. Marianne

  2. Enjoyed your food scraps article! I too cringe when I see friends and family throw those precious scraps in the trash……gasp! I live in Arkansas, where did you live?

  3. Love your garden thoughts! Thanks.

    • Thanks so very much Jeanne! Do you garden?