Recently, I read an article by someone promoting hydroponic grow towers (growing vegetables in chemical nutrient water). One of her arguments was the claim that our soils are depleted and therefore the future of agriculture was in systems like hydroponics. Statements like these really annoy me. It’s like saying, “The polar ice caps are beginning to melt, let’s start building a sea wall.” If indeed our soils are depleted, then that is a call to invigorate our soils, not grow food in chemicals! Instead of always looking forward to slick scientific solutions, maybe we as a society should look back and see what we might have done differently…and start doing that.
For at least a dozen reasons, composting makes sense for everyone. Here are a few. Did you know that 20-30% of all landfill waste is food? That food is buried and never decomposes, but remains an oozey sludge forever slowly releasing methane gas into the atmosphere. If however that same food and other organic matter are composted, carbon dioxide is sequestered from the atmosphere and nutrients are broken down and available to grow new things. You guessed it; compost is the best way to revitalize depleted soil. Plants grown in soil amended with compost are far more nutritious than those grown in soil treated with chemical fertilizers (or hydroponically). More important than nutrients, are the countless microorganisms thriving in healthy soil. Chemical fertilizers actually destroy microorganisms leaving the soil depleted.
So the next time you wonder what you can do to help the environment, consider composting. It may seem like a small thing (and it is), but it can make a big difference when compounded. Where I live in Routt County Colorado, we even have an industrial sized compost facility operating next to the landfill. Individuals not wanting to compost themselves can have their food scraps picked up and delivered to the facility for a nominal fee. The facility also picks up food waste from local restaurants, etc.