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Turning food waste into fertile soil

project-image“Every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted around the world. This would be enough to feed over three billion people (almost half the world).”

This is why food composting is so important to Rodrigo Castellanos, Director at ZEA Hungry Goods, which is a social impact brand of high quality, responsibly manufactured apparel and durable goods.

“Only one kilogram of food waste could help to grow between 10-20 kilograms of fresh food by feeding the soil instead of feeding landfills,” Rodrgio continues

“To think that we have combined problems of food waste, hunger and soil erosion at the same time in the world is crazy. It’s ironic that we see all of these issues as massive world challenges instead of perfectly interrelated opportunities.

“Furthermore, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after the United States and China.  However, by adding organic matter to the soil (e.g. composting), we not only avoid methane generated in landfills but also restore the soils capacity to hold and sequester carbon through plants’ photosynthesis. It’s a win-win. Immediate and direct.”

ZEA partners with schools that are interested in developing garden programs where the students areCCS2
deeply involved and the school leadership is committed for a long term activity.

“Ten kilos of food waste are transformed into fertile soil with each ZEA item purchased because the funding is directed into composting systems at the schools,” says Rodrigo.

“Food education is critical in schools. Food connects us. It connects our societies, our cultures and us to our environment.”

ZEA started the sales of its products only six months ago and has already supported five urban agriculture projects across Australia and Mexico, adding a total of 5,000 kilograms of food waste.

“Our mission is to transform one million kilograms of food waste into fertile soil.”

IMG_2656An example of ZEA’s support includes the amazing edible forest called Huerto Tlatelolco in Mexico City. The garden was created on the site of a public housing tower damaged during the 1985 earthquake and abandoned until recently (1,650 m2). The garden includes an edible forest with 45 tree varieties, a seed bank and a large section of bio-intensive gardening. Read about my visit and see photos in ‘Urban agriculture grows in Mexico City’.

“The main objective of the project is to involve the local community through urban agriculture and soil restoration related activities. Members of Huerto Tlatelolco conduct a program of social bonding through workshops, school visits, volunteer programs and community events,” Rodrigo says.

“Being one of the biggest cities in the world with over 23 million people, urban agriculture plays a critical role not only in the production of fresh and healthy food but also in restoring the social fabric of the city.

“Once upon a time Mexico City was possibly the city with the biggest urban agriculture system in the world! This was about 500 years ago and we think that is time to do it again.”

According to Rodrigo, the problem with food today is that it is taken for granted.

“Until we don’t remember how to appreciate the origin of our food (the soil), our attempts to solve the many social, environmental and economic problems we have will be like trying to hit a Mexican piñata blindfolded.”

Have you ever tasted a Mexican Christmas apple salad? You must try Rodrigo’s delicious recipe here!

Louise FitzRoy
Founder | From Paddock to Plate

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