Our members are working on some exciting projects, from pop-up dinners, to recipe development, to marketing for local producers and farmers. Check back on the progress of each special project that our members are involved with.
Chefs Noah Sheetz and Annette Nielsen have been documenting the urban compost movement in the Northeast and New York City. Once they have finished compiling material, they will self-publish a book that documents the latest trends through interviews with local composting gurus and advocates. Here is a sample from one of their chapters:
The Perpetual Food Cycle
I've always been fascinated by food. I love walking the produce isle of a grocery store and checking out hundreds of fruits and vegetables, knowing their story started as a single seed planted in the earth somewhere. What’s more interesting is that every one of those fruits and vegetables is part of a perpetual cycle. They start as a seed that is pushed into the damp soil of a garden or a farm field. They sprout and grow into seedlings, mature into plants that produce a fruit or vegetable crop, and they are harvested, cut up, cooked and eaten. For most plants, their life cycle stops at the end of the growing season, the plants are yanked from the soil and tossed on a compost heap. The plant’s degradation contributes to the fertility of new garden soil. When the next growing season begins, the compost is tilled into the soil, new seeds are planted and the cycle starts over again. This process happens in a perfect world where there is little or no waste, the sum of vegetables grown and harvested is equal to what is sold to retail customers. Sadly, roughly half of all the produce bought for sale in retail grocery stores never reaches an end consumer. It gets tossed out with the regular garbage. Sometimes it is separated out at the landfill and processed into soil fertilizer but often it ends up in the same place with the other trash.
“It causes me a deep pain to think about all of the wasted potential in food that goes in the garbage. As someone who annually sweats, cries, and bleeds to produce vegetables for people to eat, it is hard to think about all of those collective hours of labor represented by the mountain of wasted produce,” says Annie Metzger of Laughing Earth Farm in Glen Falls, NY.
She says that it’s also hard to think about the wasted biological energy in that pile – from the seeds someone grew, the germination that started from nutrients in the soil, the microorganisms and fungi that facilitated the nutrient uptake, and the enormous amount water needed to grow food. Annie says
“All that energy in photosynthesis. All that carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere. It gets dumped into the landfill to dissipate back into the environment. Any vegetable not eaten or composted is a waste of human capital and natural resources.”
Chefs Noah Sheetz and Ric Orlando were given a limited supply of Stony Brook WholeHeartedFood's latest product - hemp oil. Over the next few months they will be creating recipes with the delicate, grassy cold-pressed oil. Last summer Governor Cuomo granted provisional licenses to ten farms who grew hemp. After it was harvested, Stony Brook pressed the oil and plans to distribute the product for sale in New York. Writer and Consortium chef Annette Nielsen has been documenting the story behind the hemp trials with hopes of having an article published in a main stream news outlet.