Jacob Turkey Drawing

Use the WHOLE Bird!

I don’t know about you, but my Thanksgiving plans were thwarted by Kate Brown’s newest COVID-prevention orders. My outdoor buffet-style gathering of 7 from 6 different households is no longer ok. Sigh. And we already bought the turkey. In the spirit of #nofoodwaste, in honor of the life that was taken to feed me and my friends, and taking into consideration all six ways I’m making myself more aware this November, here I will talk about how to use the whole bird.

Note: if you haven’t bought your food yet, think hard about the quantity that you buy. Only buy what you will be able to eat or store! It’s a fact that people in the US produce 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Can we reduce that number?

  1. Roast that Bird.

    –A traditional roast is just fine, but “spatchcock”  is more fun to say. This is when you flatten the carcass after cutting out the backbone. (Make sure you save the backbone for your stock!) You roast it for a shorter time at a higher temperature.
    –On the plus side, it makes more crispy skin, which is one of my favorite parts! Another plus: a 10-pound bird will cook in 45 minutes compared with the 4 hours it would take to roast whole.
    –Downside, the high oven temp does cause a little grease splattering. But it’s not terrible

  2. Eat your fill.

    –I  got a 10-pound bird to feed my party of 7 and I know M and I can’t eat the whole thing in one sitting. So there will be leftover meat.
    –Save all your bones! Bones from a roasted bird still make a great stock.

  3. Package up your meat.

    –Refrigerate what you know you will be able to eat in the next week.
    –Set aside some to make some soup!
    –Shred and freeze meat in small packages for later.
    –Set aside all the bones and cartilage pieces for stock!

  4. Make some stock.

    –Hopefully, you saved some vegetable pieces and ends as you were making other dishes. If not, you can use bones only. Simmer your veggies and bones for a few hours. Strain and jar it up! Use some for your soup and freeze whatever you know you can’t use up!

  5. Make some soup!

    –Eat some, freeze what you know you can’t eat.

  6. Compost!

    –If you live in Bend or Redmond city limits, you can put all wasted food in your yard debris bins including the bones you boiled for your stock!
    Here is more information on composting.

And there you have it. Here are the main takeaways:

  • Don’t cook more food than you are prepared to eat or store.
  • Your freezer is your friend (especially if you already bought that turkey-for-12).
  • Use all the bits and bones!
Jacob Turkey Drawing
Jacob’s Turkey Drawing

A few thoughts about waste, awareness, and November.

Imagine your perfect 4th-Thursday-in-November holiday scenario. What does it look like? In the year 2020 (an election year, at that), the economy isn’t doing great and many people have lost their jobs due to a global pandemic. It’s unsafe to travel and gather in large groups. And we are in the midst of the biggest civil rights movement since the 1960s. There is a lot of hard stuff going on in the world. Does that change the image of your November holiday?

I encourage folks to gather (safely) and be grateful and waste less during this holiday season but to have awareness around historical and current times while it’s happening. Should you choose to celebrate in some way (traditional or not), do so with appreciation, intention, and reflection during this unique moment in time. Here are six ways to Rethink the November holidays in the name of waste and humanity:

1.) Give yourself a history lesson.

The 4th Thursday of November is a national holiday with an ugly, violent history. If you need a refresher, here is a good place to start. Take time this month to learn about the history where you live, whose native land you’re on, and how you perpetuate ongoing colonialism. If you’re not Indigenous to this place, have these sometimes uncomfortable conversations with your peers and family. Truth is powerful! 

2.) Give back, get involved.

Be an active part of the community, not a sideline observer. Acknowledge your own privileges AND the suffering of friends, neighbors, community members, and family. This year, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted historically marginalized communities, especially Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and neighbors of color. Learn about people and places in Central Oregon that need support and find a way to give back, whether it’s time, money, a social media share, or otherwise.

3.) Don’t waste food.

Before COVID-19, approximately 40% of the food that was grown to be eaten ended up going to waste. The upset in our food supply chain, as Michael Pollan wrote about in the June 11, 2020 edition of the New York Review, caused an enormous amount of extra food waste AND an increase in hungry people. As you’re creating your holiday meal plan, think about that. Learn about how to stop wasting food at home.

4.) Buy less stuff.

  • Make some holiday decorations from found items.
  • Getting ready for gift giving? Think about handmade options and giving the gift of experiences.
  • If you are going to participate in Black Friday, read this.
  • Appreciate the stuff you already have.

5.) Gather with loved ones (safely).

Please, by all means: eat, drink, and be merry! But when you do so, be cautious. Consider COVID-19 protocols and remember that we’re still in this thing and people are vulnerable. Find creative ways to gather virtually, outdoors, or in smaller groups than usual. Consider the health and safety of the greater community. And consider the health of the planet. Here are a few waste reduction tips for parties, even small ones:

  • Choose reusable plates, cups, and silverware.
  • Have a compost bin in case there is wasted food.
  • Set up a waste station with GOOD recycling signage.
  • Encourage people to bring reusable to-go containers so you don’t get stuck with more leftovers than you can eat!

6.) Have gratitude…

…for the place you live, for the people who were here before you, for the food in front of you, and for those around you who you love and who love you back. Coming from a place of gratitude can help you be open to growth, ideas, perspectives, and traditions that honor and appreciate.

DIY Composter: How-to with TEC’s Youth Education!

Our Eco-Hero STEAM students got to make their own composters this fall!

What is compost?

Compost is decomposed organic material that can be used as a nutrient-rich soil amendment for indoor and outdoor gardens. This decomposition of organic material needs moisture, oxygen, and heat, which may not happen in a landfill: did you know a head of lettus can take up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill? Organic material does not decompose into compost in a landfill, but rather into methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. We can divert organic material from the landfill and create compost to help lower our carbon footprint. Composting harnesses nature’s process of decomposition to create something that benefits our yards and gardens!

Three Reasons to Compost!

Whether it is in your back yard, through a pick-up service, or through drop-off, participating in composting is important. Here’s why:

  1. It diverts thousands of pounds of garbage from the landfill.
  2. It is the ultimate closed-loop system – turning garbage into something we can reuse.
  3. When used in the yard, compost boosts plant health, helps soils retain water, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Here’s how we made home composters with the Eco Heroes:

  1. Gather materials: old plastic bottle (like a 2L soda bottle, clear milk jug, or spaghetti sauce jar), pushpin, scissors
  2. Prepare container: use the scissors to cut off the top of the bottle at the taper line, unless your container already has a large opening. Use the pushpin to make drain holes in the bottom or your container.
  3. Add compostable materials: some dirt (not potting soil), plant scraps, fruit and veggie scraps, a little coffee grounds, a little shredded paper
  4. Stir and moisten your compost using water in your spray bottle! Not too much, you don’t want it soggy.
  5. Add sunlight and time! Moisten and stir periodically. Your compost should be ready in about 2-5 weeks.
  6. Mix it in with your plants to give them nutrients!


Learn more

Although we want to do our best to reduce our waste (especially food waste, in this scenario), waste does happen. The most important thing is to keep the organic waste our of the landfill! There are many options for composting in Deschutes County: backyard composting, worm bin composting, yard debris / composting service.

Tips plus Q & A from Rethink Food Waste Challenge 2020 Participants!

Wasted food is kind of a big deal. Did you know that an average household ends up tossing 1/4 of the food they bring home. The good news is that at the household level, there are many things you can do to waste less of the food. 900 Deschutes County households have now opted-in to the Rethink Food Waste Challenge to learn more about wasted food. By collecting all of their plate scrapings, leftovers-gone-bad, and edible peels each week, folks are able to see what went bad most often and how to change their shopping, storage, or cooking habits appropriately. Want to sign up for the rethink food waste challenge self-guided edition? RethinkWasteProject.org/FoodWaste

Spring 2020 we did an interactive challenge from May 10 – June 7. Folks had great questions, feedback, comments, and even some pretty terrible food-related jokes that are worth sharing. So here we go!

Participant Impressions

  • “This was a very eye-opening activity for me and my family.  We realized that doing less fresh food shopping at Costco, only making big meals that I know my kids will eat the leftovers of, and cutting veggies and fruit as soon as we buy them are key to reducing our food waste.”
  • “I am noticing that the more I focus on food waste, the less I’m spending at the grocery store, yay! But we’re still eating really well.”
  • “Loving our ‘Eat First’ shelf…we actually look there before we plan what to eat at a meal!”
  • “This challenge has really changed how I handle my household’s food buying and cooking. I appreciate all the helpful tips and information on our local area. Thanks!”

Tips and suggestions from participants!

  • Keeping a stock bag in the freezer is a great way to use all veggie scraps.
  • To use up an old stale loaf bread: rinse it in water and put it in the oven at 180* under a hand towel for 5 minutes. The crust crisps up and the center gets moist!  Makes a great sandwich!
  • Keep your avocados in the fridge after they ripen. They stay fresh longer that way.
  • My hack of the week: pesto with anything! Whizz up those leftover herbs up before they go to mush. Cilantro with lime and a mix of peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds.
  • When your milk is on the verge of going bad, use it to make bread or add to soups. Don’t do this with raw milk, only spoiled pasteurized milk!
  • Here’s a good tip for instant pot users: When cooking meat, or anything that creates extra liquid, I always freeze any leftover liquids and add them to the next soup or stew I cook.
  • Use pizza crusts your kids leave on the plate for a savory bread pudding, make croutons, or serve them under a soup.
  • Reuse your tea bags: once you accumulate 2-3, put them in a Mason jar to make iced tea!
  • Slice and freeze overripe bananas to add to smoothies or make banana ice cream.
  • Check out An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler which inspired me to simmer my own veggie broth. I highly recommend it.
  • Michele Tam of NomNom Paleo has 2 great recipes on her website for when you need to clean out your produce drawer…one is called garbage stir fry and the other is garbage soup. Terrible names, excellent meals!

Questions and Answers

    1. What do I do with bread loaf ends?I like to dry these out completely and make them into bread crumbs! Then they can be stored in an airtight container or in the freezer. Uses for breadcrumbs? Breaded and pan sauteed proteins or a pasta dish perhaps? Or you can cube the bread loaf ends and make them into croutons for your salad.
    2. Salad greens are my downfall. Greens like arugula, kale, and spinach can be cooked, but what can be done with lettuce before it turns?This was a very common theme during the challenge. Salad gone bad. The best thing to do  is to ONLY buy what you are positive you will eat. But sometimes scheduling gets away from us or we are enticed by a slice of pizza. Here is a blog with some tips on how to use up greens other than in a salad.
    3. Saving my food waste on the counter was really stinky by the end of the week. Is there a way to prevent that?During the challenge, we ask you to save all your food for the entire week so you can weigh how much you’re wasting. One tip: keep your bucket in the fridge! When you aren’t doing the food waste challenge, you can take your compost out every day.
    4. I always get a lot of food waste in my cooler when I go camping. What’s the best way to pack a cooler?Here are my top 4 tips:
      • Don’t store anything in a ziplock, especially not the ice.
      • Instead of ice cubes, freeze water in bottles or use reusable freezer packs.
      • Anything fragile, keep in a rigid container.
      • Plan your meals so you eat the most perishable, fragile things in the first couple of nights.

      Plus, here is a good, thorough article.

    5. I have so many lemons!Ok, that wasn’t a question. But still. Lemons are so versatile! They are useful in nearly every cuisine. I’ve absolutely substituted a lemon for a lime, too.

      …not to mention all the desserts. Mmm..lemon poppyseed cake?

    6. Is there a good way to keep bananas from going bad so quickly?

      A shocking % of participants reached out telling me your bananas are going bad too fast. The best advice I have for you is:

      • Buy them on the green side
      • Only buy the ones you think you can eat in time!
      • Store them on the counter and not next to other foods
      • Store them in a basket and upside-down — sometimes if they are on their side the edges touching the counter get bruised more easily

      Luckily there are so many ways to use up bananas in baking and smoothies. How do YOU use up your bananas?

      Here‘s an article about some interesting techniques to store your bananas. I didn’t vet them, so you’ll have to let me know how it goes!

Composting when you don’t have a yard or a public service.

  • I live in a small apartment and there is no composting on the property.
  • I have a yard, but my HOA says I can’t have a compost pile.
  • I live outside city limits so I don’t get yard debris service and I don’t want to deal with a compost pile.

Do any of these statements sound like you? I’m here to help! First, learn to reduce your wasted food as much as you can. Here is a link for tips and tricks to do just that with the Rethink Food Waste Challenge. Second, below are a few options that might work for you.

1.) Get a worm bin: learn vermiculture.

Vermiculture, or worm cultivation, is for you if you mainly have fruit and vegetable scraps. In addition to produce, worms will eat eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds with the filter, and shredded paper. Some sources say other stuff as well: do your own research. Worms can live outside if you insulate their bin. The laundry room or garage is another good place to keep them. Another cool thing: our local Wonder Worman can supply your worms! Here is our guide to Worm Bin Composting for everything you need to know.

2.) Find a friend with a compost pile you can add to!

Or find one who has chickens or pigs. My chickens love any veggie scraps I will spare them.

Scrap-happy chickens from one Rethink Food Waste Challenge participant.

3.) Try out Bokashi: a Japanese method of anaerobic composting.

This method sounds really great! I’ve never seen it in action, so will you test it out for me? Bokashi actually ferments food scraps (all food scraps) using microorganisms. Apparently, it has no odor whatsoever. Check out Face Down Waste’s blog post for one person’s experience.

4.) Just want to teach your kiddos about how it works?

Or see how it works yourself? Learn more about how our Eco Heroes made their own DIY composters here.

How do you compost?

Join the Spring 2020 Rethink Food Waste Challenge!

Join over 700 households who have taken the challenge!

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we are bringing you a FREE home challenge to reduce your household’s wasted food. This interactive challenge (May 11 – June 7) will help you understand what is going to waste in your own household with tips and tricks on how to reduce that wasted food. You’ll learn why it’s an important topic and what people around the globe are doing to help combat this enormous problem. And we have $1,000 worth of prizes to give away.

Want to sign up?

Find the sign-up form here. You must be a Deschutes County resident to be eligible for prizes, but anyone can take the challenge. Questions? Send them to: ani AT EnviroCenter.org

Why does wasted food matter?

Wasting food has social, financial, and environmental implications. Especially now during this pandemic, food insecurity is a real and tangible and GROWING issue for many of us. Over the course of the challenge, you will learn many things about the state of wasted food. For starters, did you know that 40% of the food that is grown to be eaten in the US ends up not being eaten? Yet in Deschutes County, 1 in 6 people is food insecure, meaning they don’t always know where their next meal will come from?

What do I have to do?

  1. As a household, you will collect your wasted food (everything that was at one time edible — not eggshells and onion skins) in a lidded bucket.
  2. At the end of each week, you will weigh or measure your wasted food.
  3. Then you will enter the data into an online form, which will also enter you into the weekly prize drawing.
  4. After you measure your food waste for the week, you don’t have to save it. Compost it!
  5. The challenge lasts for 4 weeks starting May 11.
  6. Each week you will receive emails learning tips and tricks to reduce your wasted food.

Ok. What do I need?

  1. A bucket or container in which you can collect your food waste. One with a lid is nice to keep in any odors.
  2. A kitchen scale would be nice, but you can also record your waste by volume.

That’s it, really.

What’s in it for you?

We have $1,000 worth of prizes that we’ll be giving away including two $250 grand prizes in farm bucks good for a local farm (TBD).

Residential Composting Pilot in Bend

Last week, Bend Garbage & Recycling and Cascade Disposal announced that they’ll be introducing a residential food waste pilot program to some areas in Bend. About 300 households from each company will participate in the pilot, which allows customers to put more food in their standard yard debris bins for curbside collection and composting. (Raw fruit and veggie scraps can currently be added to this bin. During the pilot program, they will accept meat, dairy, bakery items, and more.) If all goes well, residential composting could be available to all of their customers sometime in 2019. We’re very excited to hear this news, because it’s estimated that 26% of Knott Landfill is food waste!

We have partnered with both haulers to provide food waste prevention information for those selected for the pilot, including an Eat First card: a tool from our Rethink Food Waste Toolkit that helps you separate out foods in your fridge that need to be eaten first so they don’t end up in the compost pile. Of course we want to keep food out of the landfill and turn it into beautiful and useful compost, but we encourage you to prevent food waste in the first place. Sign up for our Rethink Food Waste Challenge to learn more and access helpful resources around food waste prevention.

You can read the full press from Bend Garbage & Recycling and Cascade Disposal here.

View the article from from KTVZ.

Sign up for the Rethink Food Waste Challenge

Food waste is a big issue here in the United States! About 1/4 of what people bring home from the grocery store ends up in the trash. In this episode of EnviroAnswers, Ani provides some tips on how to organize your fridge and shop smarter – in ways that will reduce your waste.

Are you up to the challenge? Earlier this year, over 200 households in Central Oregon took the Rethink Food Waste Challenge. They weighed their wasted food each week, and received helpful resources, tips and ideas on how to reduce what ends up in the trash. Throughout the course of the Challenge, we’re happy to report that participants’ food waste dropped by a whopping 59%!

Now it’s your turn. We’ve made the Challenge available online! Sign up and you’ll receive a short email series that guides you through the process. You’ll learn what food you’re wasting in your home and how to prevent it. Pledge to waste less food! Sign up here.

Processing Your Compost for a Finished Product

The compost demonstration area at The Environmental Center is towards the back of the Kansas Ave Learning Garden. We were recently the recipients of a beautiful Little Free Library, installed on an old tree stump near the compost area. This was the perfect excuse to revamp this whole area to make it more attractive and user friendly. That involves moving bins, and if you’re going to move bins, well you might as well see if there’s any good compost in there to use. After a tough winter here in Central Oregon – with many weeks of not even feeding any fruit and veggie scraps to any of the compost bins as they were buried under snow – it was finally time to open things up and see how they look. While the top of the bins often still had unprocessed food scraps at the top, digging just beneath the surface revealed a ton of red wiggler worms – even in bins where we hadn’t put any – and well processed compost. Here’s how we deal with it so we have a nice finished product to spread.

TIP – Unless it s a tumbler/spinner kind of bin, add red wiggler worms to your bin, ASAP. Make sure they get regular food, and they don’t dry out in the summer heat. Come back to this blog post next spring.

Now, in order to get to the good stuff, and get it without the worms, I had to do a few steps. They are quickly illustrated in the pictures below,  but I’ll explain the process too.

Lay out a tarp next to your bin, and scoop it out, lift if off or dump out your compost bin onto the tarp. You can immediately scoop off bigger things like dried out paper or corn cobs, dried out avocado shells and pits, some uncrumbled eggshells, etc. These tended to be on top and around the edges where there was less moisture and less worm activity. Put them either back in the empty bin, or in a new spot or another compost pile that’s still working.

TIP – Find something you can use as a screen, not like a window screen but more like a grate, that can sit over a wheelbarrow. ReStores are good locations for these types of things.

If you have the space, pile the compost in pyramid piles on the tarp. Even one big pile will work to start. Worms like it dark and will burrow down low to avoid the sunlight. This allows us to scoop off the top relatively easy. Grab handfuls of compost, scan for worms, if you don’t see any then drop it onto the grate. Designate where you are putting your worms, like an empty bin, another compost pile, or even a temporary bucket. You can go relatively fast here – its okay if some worms are transferred to your garden bed – though keep in mind if you have kids working with you on this part, they will meticulously look for the worms, without really harvesting the compost. When you get to the clump of worms you can easily put them in their designated spot, and rebuild pyramids of compost so you can keep scooping off the top. (Eventually you’ll be at the bottom where most of the worms are, and at that point you just gather all that material to kick off your new round of composting.)

When your grate looks full, stop adding and scan it for any worms that you missed the first time. Then you can shake the grate, run your hands back and forth, anything to help break up the chunks of compost so mostly the little stuff gets through and the big stuff doesn’t. Knock off the top of the grate back into the new compost pile to continue decomposing. Keep doing this until your wheelbarrow is full. The fun part? Spreading it all out onto your garden beds. I know where I’ve already spread compost by looking for the bits of crushed eggshell pieces 🙂

You can keep going in rounds like that, or do it in spurts. Last week when I photographed this process, I did this process long enough to fill one wheelbarrow, which is a decent amount of compost to spread on garden beds. I wrapped the rest of the exposed pile in a tarp to keep it dark and moist until I have time to finish processing this week.



3 Ways to Make Your Compost Stink (and how not to!)

1. Put a stick of butter in it.

Last week I dumped out the compost bucket under the sink at The Environmental Center, and at the very bottom was part of a stick of butter. Yeah, so that stunk up the compost pail, the kitchen, and then the outdoor bin for like 2 days. So if you want to make sure your compost bin doesn’t smell, don’t add food that has any animal products or oil/grease on it. No leftover salad that was tossed with dressing. No leftover rice that was cooked with chicken stock. No bread with mayonnaise on it. And definitely no sticks of butter.

TIP: Keep your home compost (yard debris bin included here) limited to fruit and vegetable scraps, spent coffee grounds and tea bags for a stink free bin!

2. Have a big kitchen compost pail.

If you dump out your kitchen compost pail and it stinks – before even adding it to the compost pile – it’s been sitting there too long and it’s begun to rot, probably in an oxygen deprived environment. If you are using something like a 5 gallon bucket or other large improvised container, the food is simply rotting before you fill it up. If you have a small container and it takes you awhile to fill that up, it’s a good reflection of your diet – you’re eating out, or eating prepared or packaged food and so you’re just not adding enough veggie or fruit scraps to fill it up in a reasonable amount of time.

TIP: Get a smaller kitchen compost pail and/or dump it out once a week regardless if it’s full or not (and order a CSA – you’ll fill it up with kale stalks in no time!)

3. Ignore It.

Have you seen the sticker, COMPOST HAPPENS! Well it does, but here in Central Oregon we need to do a little work to create the ideal environment for decomposers (the bacteria, fungi and little critters turning your food waste into nutrient rich compost) or else your bin might stink, or just not break down at all. Decomposers, like all living things, need FOOD (your veggie and fruit food scraps), WATER (get more in by adding water to your kitchen compost container before dumping it in your compost bin), and AIR (achieved through turning a compost pile, spinning a tumbler or adding worms.

TIP: Add worms! They do the work for you as long as you keep them fed and warm.

In the end, most of the time your compost bin should smell like good ‘ol dirt! If it doesn’t that’s just your signal that somethings up. Get in touch if you need some help troubleshooting your compost bin or getting started!

Email denise or call 541.385.6908 x14


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