Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A question for the carnivores

A blog reader named Brandon emailed me (a while back and i'm just now responding) about what to do with meat scraps. They can't be worm composted and he didn't know what else to do. i mentioned thinking ahead (don't cook more than you'll eat) and feeding scraps to the dog as well as an outside public composter if one existed.

That said, as a veg, I'm afraid I don't deal with this subject too much. Without getting into a huge discussion of the pros and cons of eating meat (or maybe that is what we should be doing) anyone have any illuminations?



Anonymous said...

I'm not an expert on it, so I'm just curious, why can't they be worm composted?

Dave said...

I;m not positive but i have always suspected three things.
1) Worms won't eat meat (doubtful)
2)Meat is too tough
3)It'll compost but will take so long it'll get nasty first.

Not sure whihc is correct, but since i have no meat to add to the tray I haven't given it much thought.


Anonymous said...

what about a bokashi bin? They compost meat scraps. I think you have to add a special product to the bin, so it's not free like regular backyard composting, but apparently it works. Also, my friend cleans her animal bones and takes them back to the butcher where they send them to someone for bone meal.

Eric said...

I like the idea of just fixing what you need - and with this economy - that shouldn't be hard to do. I would think that meat would do just fine with the worms or a composter. However, you probably don't want what comes with decomposing meat in your compost or worms...

Dave said...

Bokashi hmmmm? I'm intrigued.....to the GOOGLE MOBILE!


Dave said...

Agreed Eric, alhtough I'm assuming that there is still stuff like bone and fat leftover from meat prep and eating. I'm assuming he was talking more about that than making too much.


Dave said...



Interesting. I must germinate on this for a while.


Elise P said...

In Mary Appelhof's book, 'Worms - Eat My Garbage', She states that decaying meat can smell bad, Mice and Rats are more likely to be attracted to a worm bin with meat. She tried chicken bones and didn't disturb it for a while - ending up with well picked bones and great vermicompost.

She suggests that small amounts of meat can add nitrogen into the system which is good for the worms.

There is also a suggestion to add a carbon source (like sawdust) to reduce decomposition time.

I just started my own worm box 2 weeks ago and I'm thinking about adding tiny portions of meat at a time - it isn't usually something that goes to waste!

Dave said...

Ahh yes, that's where I remember reading it. Great book, sort of the worm bible if you will. I had forgotten about sawdust, will have to add some.


Anonymous said...

I was going to say that I believed this was 'frowned upon' because of the slow rate of decomposition and, therefore, the funky smell. However elise p totally rocked that answer.

In a similar, albeit completely different strain, I have a question about certain recyclables. A local natural foods grocery I love has a fabulous little cafe I almost love even more. Trouble is, I've accumulated a few of their packages, which I'm reusing for as long as seems possible. I don't know if anyone has heard of Bio-Plus packages (http://www.fold-pak.com) but they make take away containers out of 100% recyclable fibers. They're essentially 'cardboard', but as they're lined inside to prevent leakage, I'm concerned as to A) their ability to biodegrade and B) whether or not I can recycle them.

Any suggestions?

Dave said...

Hey Shannon,
I've seen these and haven't been able to find the comapny that makes them to ask. I just emailed a retailer and asked if they would pass along my email and answer the question.
Having said that, whether they are or aren't, it still takes energy to make and recycle them, and once they have food on them, most recycle places won't take them. Any chance they'd give you to go in your own container?


ms_well.words said...

I hesitate to state the obvious, but I'll go ahead anyway…

Humans have been burying their dead for thousands of years, and guess what archaeologists find when they start poking around - the bones.

Composting speeds up the natural process of decay by keeping the material contained, and thus keeping in the heat (which helps the bacteria to work more quickly). Even modern crematoria have to use grinding techniques to destroy bones (as well as very high temperatures, not found in compost heaps … we hope.)

Worms can only digest the soft stuff. I suppose they might eat meat, but certainly not the bone. The downside of putting meat scraps in the wormery (or compost) is that it attracts vermin.

Here in the UK waste is a BIG issue, and my local council provides each household with a big green wheelie bin for food and garden waste. The material gets carted off to municipal compost heaps. Here's a handy link for composting questions: http://www.compostthis.co.uk/item/meat

And finally, don't forget that once you've made your compost, you will be spreading it on your garden, possibly growing vegetables etc. then eating what you've grown. There's surely a risk of accidentally introducing disease or, at least, inappropriate nutrients, if your compost contains meat products.

I'm with Dave - go veggie!

Dave said...

An email from the Bio-Pak people.
Hello Dave,

Thank you for your e-mail and good luck with your project. Yes, our products (Bio-Pak and Bio-Plus Earth) are recyclable in any commercial recycling program that is recycling food contact paperboard. Presently we are also working to add a 100% compostable line (commercial and home compost acceptable) and hope to have this out by the end of 2008.

Thanks again,


Sounds like in many places they won't be recyclable then, but the compostable solution would be great.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Look at you with all the research--why didn't I think of asking them myself?

Thanks very much for all the suggestions.


Dave said...

Just an email. Glad I could help and thanks for turning me on to them.


Anonymous said...

Dave- thanks for commenting on my blog. I replied there, but I will also say something here. First of all, what you are doing is a great and respectable thing, and I apologize if my post seemed a little condescending. I was going off of the article rather than from your website. But like I said in my comment reply, I hope that this will help change people's perspective on how much waste we actually generate.

Thanks again!

Dave said...

Thanks Adam, I truly appreciate your stopping by and stepping up. Very cool of you. I wasn't actually mad (I've read much worse), just wanted to set the record straight for your readers.



arcticcircle said...

I'm planning on getting a bokashi bin, but if I had a large garden, I'd just bury the meat and bone wasted deep. That's what happens to pets when they die and I don't remember that ever attracting rats etc.

Rosengeranium said...

Well, since everyone already said "bokashi" and "meat smells bad while decomposing" in one way or another I'll just add another piece of advice; the best way to dispose of meat is to eat it, so my first choice is to reuse leftovers in the next meal (steak one day - cut up the leftover meat and warm it in good broth the next day to make a stew for example). That works with the things left in crocks and pots - items on the plate that has been "messed with" must be disposed of, so investing in a bokashi isn't a bad idea.

Remember to cool any leftovers as quick as possible, though, to avoid excess bacterial growth.

BTW; I've linked to this blog since I found "Sustainable Dave Explains Vermicomposting" on YouTube and used it at my blogs (hope it's ok?) - great vid! Keep up the good work!

Dave said...

Of course, link away. When i was growing up my uncle lived on a farm and they always had a pot on the stove (wood stove) that had soup. Bones and whatnot would go in there. I must confess I never had anything but it always smelled good.


Dorothea said...

Yes, if you can't eat it all yourself as left-overs or soup, then why not feed it to chickens?

David S. said...

The Naturemill kitchen composter takes meat scraps... they maintain a higher temperature to encourage rapid breakdown, and filter the air to manage odors, which keeps vermin out.

It seems a little odd to plug in a garbage bin, and slightly odder to rot stuff in your kitchen (anywhere but the fridge, of course), but they claim to use less electricity than a nightlight and the turn time on compost is supposed to be weeks, not months.