USDA Food Waste Climate Initiative Tells People How to Compost

Essay by Eric Worrall

Your tax dollars at work – I read this three times and it still looks like a word salad. But there is a disturbing question – why?

Community Resources to Combat Climate Change and Food Loss and Waste

Posted by Nina Bhattacharyya, Natural Resources Specialist, USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production inClimate Initiatives

Jun 21, 2022

Local communities face many challenges when mitigating and adapting to climate change. Cities across the country are experiencing the effects of increased natural disasters, limited resources, sea-level rise, and other impacts. Municipalities and stakeholders have an opportunity to curb greenhouse gas emissions and increase food security through addressing food loss and waste.

It is estimated that 4% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is attributable to uneaten food[1]. In the U.S. and beyond, food is wasted along all parts of the supply chain. Therefore, a variety of local strategies and tools are needed to tackle this issue, including preventing food waste, connecting wholesome excess food to those who need it, and composting food scraps. Resilient cities are those that have a sustainable and equitable food system that includes a strong food recovery network and food waste reduction solutions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes the need for community resources to address food loss and waste. Through the 2018 Farm Bill, the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) established the Composting and Food Waste Reduction pilot program. The program supports projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing food waste reduction plans and composting plans. OUAIP has announced the latest funding opportunity for local governments, school districts, and Native American tribes to host pilot projects for fiscal year 2022. Applications will be accepted on until September 1, 2022. Learn more about the program and past recipients by visiting the webpage for Composting and Food Waste Reduction Cooperative Agreements.

Finally, and on a related note, learning from others is a great place to start exploring solutions. The USDA has compiled food loss and waste resources for farmers, businesses, consumers, schools and more. Our partners at the Environmental Protection Agency have assembled helpful links on wasted food programs across the United States and have regional representatives available to answer questions about how to reduce wasted food. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration provides important information on maintaining food safety while also avoiding food waste.

Get started today and be part of the solution to combat climate change and food loss and waste.

[1] Food Waste: The Challenge, REFED, (last visited April 1, 2022).


I clicked the link food loss and waste resources for farmers, and it mostly seems to be about cheap loans for better onsite storage, and advice on how to turn berries into jam. The finance might be welcome, but seriously?

The easiest way to reduce food waste is to eat that droopy looking carrot in the bottom of the chiller drawer. And I’ve done that, when money was tight. You have to spend half a minute cutting off the rotten bits, usually the tip of the carrot and the skin, which can go a bit mouldy. Even after all that, there is still a risk the trimmed carrot will taint the food, and a very small risk it will make you sick.

I’d much rather have fresh vegetables, remove the risk of taint in tonight’s dinner, and throw the out of date food in the trash.

Food waste is a luxury people with money can afford. We’ve all seen Venezuelans chasing garbage trucks, and people in poor countries who live in trash dumps, scavenging discarded food. It is amazing what you can live on if you have to, those multi generation survivors, people scavenging scraps from trash heaps are so adapted, they can eat things which would kill most people. But personally I’d rather not have to learn to live that way.

Frankly I find it a bit alarming that Biden’s USDA suddenly feels the urge for people in the USA to learn skills only really poor people need to know.

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June 22, 2022 6:17 pm

Hate to tell them, but the compost pile releases CO2 and methane, uses water, and houses pests. Unless you’re using it right there where it is produced, or have a direct line to a gardener, still has to be hauled off for disposal. Farmers usually have enough compost, and don’t need more pest control. Organic farmers need to control the sources of their compost, so casual donations aren’t appreciated.

Last edited 14 days ago by dk_
Peta of Newark
Reply to  dk_
June 22, 2022 7:42 pm

Quote:”but the compost pile releases CO2 and methane, uses water, and houses pests.

Nice accurate description of Climate Science btw

A properly built and functioning pile will not release methane – methane comes from anaerobic decomposition. You forgot Sulphur, likewise.
i.e. from heaps of stinking shit. If anything smells bad, it is bad.

Pests are like weeds, things you you personally don’t like in places where you think you don’t want them.
There are no real pests. Learn to love them, they are trying to be positive and helpful

Water and CO2 are the Stuff of Life.

Ideally, what is referred to as Food Waste, would go back to the farm, field and or soil where it was grown.

No real matter otherwise.
Stuff, any stuff, all stuff is only really actually truly wasted if when it is ever set fire and burned

Do Not Ever Burn Stuff that was once and recently alive.

Simply putting it back where you found it or where it was created is The Best Thing you could ever do for anyone, everyone, anything & anywhere.
Doing so will genuinely help the climate.
Anything else involves the consumption/waste of other resources and thus is a big phat negative for climate

Which is where USDA and their ‘advice’ all falls flat.
In their minds it is all about money money money = the acquisition & love of same

We all know that little cliche and it’s never more applicable to almost all of contemporary western governmental thinking.
it cannot end well

edit to PS
Quote:”Farmers usually have enough compost

You could not be more wrong, a quick glance at Sri Lanka’s recent little experiment tells you that

Last edited 14 days ago by Peta of Newark
Eric Schollar
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 23, 2022 2:30 am

Absolutely! Sri Lanka has provided a definitive refutation of the idea that organic farming can be taken to a national scale. It’s fine for the rich urban hobbyists but its a nightmare for hungry rural peasants. Let’s hear no more nonsense about large-scale organic farming.

Last edited 13 days ago by Eric Schollar
Reply to  Eric Schollar
June 23, 2022 3:06 am

funny? the rural peasants survived for thousands of years using natural product composts etc

Dave Fair
Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 23, 2022 6:25 am

Yeah, but not many could be fed that way and lives were short and brutal.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 23, 2022 8:29 am

Lacking proper fertilizers, rural peasants eked by on the edge of starvation.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 23, 2022 3:06 am

some stuffs good to burn
in Aus caltrops sure are to kill the hard seeds that can last 25yrs in soils, and ash is a good additive as is the charcoal

Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 23, 2022 7:27 pm

Of course rats are not pests. Baltimore knows that rats contribute to human health in multiple ways. Tending a compost “pile” properly is not a task most Americans are willing to do.

Reply to  dk_
June 23, 2022 3:04 am

not everyone who hates waste is a warmist prat. i dont care what compost gives off gas wise its what it saves nutrient wise

Richard Page
Reply to  dk_
June 23, 2022 5:32 am

Ah yes but consider this – food waste is considered a source of anthropogenic CO2 and is bad, whilst composting, even with food waste, is considered a source of biogenic CO2, which is fine. It’s ridiculous hair-splitting and muddled or delusional thinking based on pseudoscience and religious ideaology.

John Bell
June 22, 2022 6:22 pm

There is a Thunderfoot video where he debunks an in-home food composter.

June 22, 2022 6:26 pm

I wonder how much is the USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production yearly budget.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Curious George
June 22, 2022 8:05 pm

Since bureaucracies exist to grow as big as possible & waste as much taxpayers’ $$$ as they can
get away with, I’m sure it’s grown a lot since it began in 2018. Farm bills are seen by libs as boondoggles & this is one way to get urban congressmen to support the bill. Increasing food stamps (SNAP)
is another. If you read their website, they’re scope is contradictory & nonsensical, typical of
of useless nanny state programs.

Last edited 14 days ago by Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
June 23, 2022 6:32 am

Unfortunately it is also seen as a cash cow by “conservative” politicians as well. Beyond the low cost crop insurance and basic research into crop conditions, the government should stay out of the farmer’s way.

A j Cross
Reply to  Curious George
June 23, 2022 5:29 am
UAIP appears to be a grant program of indeterminate buffet. Indians and low income urban are targeted so maybe a DEI slush fund but not higher education. Only 1-3 year grants, $50,000 to $150,000 per year, supplies and equipment rentals.

Dave Fair
Reply to  A j Cross
June 23, 2022 6:28 am

And we are told there is no way to cut the Federal budget.

Reply to  A j Cross
June 23, 2022 12:50 pm

American Farmland Trust will leverage and add to existing research and on-the-ground partnerships to examine the state of farmland and pathways to access for new generation urban farmers.

Gobbledy gook.

June 22, 2022 6:36 pm

“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Reply to  Ivo
June 22, 2022 8:17 pm

But to help you I will need more people in my department and more pay because my job is now more complex.

Old Man Winter
June 22, 2022 6:51 pm

They never considered how much food will spoil in blackouts during a heatwave because of
unreliable RE!

Steve Case
June 22, 2022 6:51 pm

… Biden’s USDA suddenly feels the urge for people in the USA to learn skills only really poor people need to know.

When we throw a party, we save the leftovers. The younger generations don’t, in the garbage it goes.

On the other hand some of the younger generations don’t put out three different kinds of potato salad and enough hot dogs so everyone can eat four.

In other news:

Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced a new city ordinance Dec. 15 that would prohibit Chicago restaurants from serving sugary drinks as the “default beverage” with kids’ meals. LINK

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Steve Case
June 22, 2022 8:13 pm

Given all the illegals pouring in through the border from all over the world, this is perfect timing for
them to grow the bureaucracy by offering these programs in several languages, too. Never let
a crisis you created go to waste!

Last edited 14 days ago by Old Man Winter
Chris Hanley
Reply to  Steve Case
June 22, 2022 8:58 pm

“Lightfoot trying to save Chicago youngsters from kids’ meal soda pop” meanwhile at least 276 kids 16 and younger have been shot in Chicago since 2021.

Last edited 14 days ago by Chris Hanley
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Chris Hanley
June 23, 2022 2:40 am

Yes, Biden ought to be making a weekly trip to Chicago to lament the many murders that take place in Chicago every week. Like he does when there is a school shooting.

Chicago voters must be really stupid to elect a mayor like Lightfoot. She’s the problem, Chicago. And you keep electing her, so you are the real problem. Elect idiots and you get an Idiocracy. A deadly Idiocracy.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Chris Hanley
June 23, 2022 6:35 am

Their solution: More bureaucrats, social workers and mental health clinics.

No discussion of adding more patrol police, locking up career criminals and disbanding gangs.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 23, 2022 11:22 am

Don’t forget hiring more sign language interpreters.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 23, 2022 1:43 pm

They are actively reducing the size of the police force and making plans to get rid of prisons.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
June 23, 2022 1:43 pm

And almost everyone of those shootings was done using a gun that was already illegal for the shooter to own.
The idea that the next layer of gun laws will finally get the criminals to turn in their guns, will never die.

Reply to  Steve Case
June 23, 2022 1:40 pm

While it’s been awhile since I’ve had a kid young enough to want a “kids meal”, the only ones that came with a “default drink” was at fast food outlets, and that “default” was usually milk.
At sit down restaurants, I have never seen a “default drink”, they always asked, though whatever was selected always came in a smaller “kids” cup.

At least she didn’t try to outlaw sugary drinks for kids. Other cities have done that.

Last edited 13 days ago by MarkW
June 22, 2022 6:52 pm

Here in Melbourne, our local council is forcing everyone to compost. They’ve cut our weekly garbage collection to fortnightly and have given us small bins to compost food scraps. The stupidity from government bureaucrats is only getting worse as the younger and woker employees move up the public service ranks.

Reply to  ggm
June 23, 2022 9:18 am

…unintended consequences.

What percentage of homes in Melbourne have in-sink garbage disposals?

Reply to  DonM
June 24, 2022 3:01 am

very few if any
insinkerators were a 70s thing but costly prone to blocking drains and pretty much a non event

Reply to  ggm
June 23, 2022 1:44 pm

There was a time when those who worked for government, were considered servants of the people. Now they regard the citizens as their servants.

Last edited 13 days ago by MarkW
June 22, 2022 7:02 pm

As EW notes, careful shopping and attention to detail eliminates food waste in the frugal household.
A basic compost pile is almost to easy to manage. Composting harder things like tree branches requires a bit more thought and time. Although we think sometimes the hobby gardeners way over do it. In any event a good compost pile is a joy in the spring when it is time to prep the garden for planting.

Kenso Ghost
June 22, 2022 8:07 pm

In Randwick, Sydney they have the FOGO program. In the green bin you put compostable garden waste like leaves or lawn clippings. Food waste is collected in a small bin on the kitchen floor. The council supplies thin stretchy plastic compostable bags which line this bin. Any food scraps, raw or cooked, as well as food-contaminated paper are put in the bin. When the bag is full it is lifted out and put in the green bin and you put in another liner. Food-contaminated Pizza boxes simply go in the green bin. The council already composts its own shredded green waste eg tree trimming in the streets. The green bin collection, amounting to tons, is put in with their own waste and composted. The council sells the compost. No one has to do their own composting or even learn to compost. The scheme according to the council is working well.
We have 3 bins of equal size, red for garbage, yellow for paper, compostable plastic and aluminium cans and the green bin. The green bin is collected weekly whilst the other two are collected on alternate weeks.

John I Reistroffer
June 22, 2022 8:08 pm

Frankly I find it a bit alarming that Biden’s USDA suddenly feels the urge for people in the USA to learn skills only really poor people need to know.”

Maybe they’re sending us a message!

John Hultquist
June 22, 2022 8:32 pm

 In fruit-tree growing areas, much of the “pick” goes to the ground. The amount will surprise most people. Still, apples that go into storage will have many (months later) that won’t be sold at retail outlets. Some go for juice and some for livestock feed.

Use this string with an images tab to have a look:
“apples on ground after harvest”

I live in a rural area with plenty of garden space. I dig a trench and throw food waste in, and cover it up. When I need that space a year or two later, I just plant over top of it.
Most folks can’t operate this way.

June 22, 2022 8:49 pm

Cities across the country are experiencing the effects of … sea-level rise,


Reply to  asiaseen
June 22, 2022 9:59 pm

Yeah, noticed that one also. How landlocked cities are experiencing sea level rise is almost as hard to understand as how Martha’s Vineyard isn’t. Oh wait, I remember, Obama moved there and commanded it to stop.

Dave Fair
Reply to  asiaseen
June 23, 2022 6:39 am

That, and other lies about worsening weather.

Mike Dubrasich
June 22, 2022 8:55 pm

Down the road thankfully a fair piece Farmer John recycles culled onions, which he gets for free from the big growers, by feeding them to his cattle. I’m not sure of the chemical composition of the gases released, but they are beyond redolent.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
June 24, 2022 3:05 am

a lot of the processing food waste was used by cattle pig etc farms then? the supplements companies stepped in to grab it and use it for a HUGE profit. a lot of good soil and animal nutrient was lost, after the second processing and chem use to do so it would be close to useless for feed but then? they probably do onsell to petfood makers for fibre/bulking as fillers to cut costs. every cent shall be extracted

John the Econ
June 22, 2022 9:28 pm

Academia spits these people out and government hires them to nag the productive economy. It’s a racket.

James H
June 22, 2022 9:50 pm

I believe it was yesterday that The administration started warning about imminent food shortages, citing Russia/Putin as a cause.

This article appears to have the purpose of trying to 1) blame food shortages on climate change and 2) make people want to waste less and compost by trying to link rotting food to climate change.

June 22, 2022 11:57 pm

The age of ‘electrolytes’ and the ‘crystals all the way down’.

More and more of what does not work and what causes the problems… with ruinables leading the way and the rest following in lockstep revolutionary fashion… funnelling more and more of taxpayers money to the ‘reset revolution’ of the ‘day light robery’ and social anarchy.


Last edited 13 days ago by whiten
Tom Abbott
June 23, 2022 2:21 am

From the article: “Local communities face many challenges when mitigating and adapting to climate change. Cities across the country are experiencing the effects of increased natural disasters, limited resources, sea-level rise, and other impacts.”

The article starts out with a lie. There is no evidence of “increased” natural disasters. This is a blatant lie.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
June 23, 2022 9:58 am

Along with the incessant claims of hottest month ever somewhere, by .01 degree F, measured against a downward adjusted historical record .

Reply to  Slowroll
June 23, 2022 1:48 pm

And measured inside a growing UHI.

June 23, 2022 2:55 am

I rated this a ONE Eric because of the offensive:
“skills only really poor people need to know.”
and the comment a limp and spotty carrot might taint the meal or make you ill. if its not slime city, or a mass of serious mold then the risk would be near zero.

the massive amounts of GOOD food thrown out should offend everyone.
teaching people that its NOT “off” if its a tad less than perfect crisp and perfect shaped would be a wise thing. Truth is a lot of less than perfectly formed attractive foods(,that for some reason( HA! advertising) everyone thinks are the aim in perfection, are better..
perfect huge waterladen and chemically forced fruits are for the most part also tasteless and lower in nutrition than a smaller hardier more naturally grown product even one using some chem inputs. commercial peaches apricots and plums in Australia are sold rock hard at huge prices they tend to rot very fast they have zero scent and flavour either. theyre a huge part of the reason a huge amount of kids now say they dont like fruit. Cant blame em either!
I am one of the “poor” by your standards. I sure cant waste food and I do not., if its really off then its chickens or petfood, past that? it IS composted. even a few small containers of composted food waste with lawn clippings/leaves whatever old boxes papers etc rotted down is useable for plant pots or gardens in a few weeks. Handled by a community garden its a massive saving for fertiliser and a sane use of nutrients otherwise utterly wasted

Last edited 13 days ago by ozspeaksup
June 23, 2022 3:36 am

There used to be a large composting yard in the Coachella valley of California in a rural area. (Lots of farming in the east valley).There was definitely a pretty obnoxious odor. When the wind was blowing from the east the people in the gated housing area, particularly one called Trilogy complained (La Quinta). So it was abandoned.

June 23, 2022 3:40 am

‘Frankly I find it a bit alarming that Biden’s USDA suddenly feels the urge for people in the USA to learn skills only really poor people need to know.’

11.4% of the USA live in poverty…

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
June 23, 2022 6:44 am

“… really poor people …” doesn’t describe most poverty in the U.S.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 23, 2022 1:50 pm

On the other hand, poverty does describe griff’s mental capacity.

Reply to  griff
June 23, 2022 9:27 am

“poverty” is a relative term. If the standard of living for everyone in the USA increased, there would still be ‘poverty’.

It’s kinda like someone that is a ‘dipshit’. If everyone was 30 IQ points higher, there would still be the random ‘dipshits’ running around spouting meaningless (to everyone but the ‘dipshits’) bits of ‘dipshit’ wisdom.

Reply to  griff
June 23, 2022 11:27 am

But all people in the USA that live in poverty have government assistance to lift them out of poverty.

And if they are too stupid to know that, they also get NGO and churches to help them out.

Reply to  griff
June 23, 2022 1:49 pm

And always will, since poverty is defined as a fraction of median income.
Regardless, people at the poverty line in the US live better than do many middle class people in Europe.

At least in the US the poor don’t freeze to death in the winter because they can’t afford heat.

June 23, 2022 4:59 am

Dollars are one indirect measure of energy or food calories. So the USDA and the cited NGO (ReFED) talk about food waste and $73 billion that could be saved annually. It is certainly a worthy goal to reduce waste (as if the entire value chain were not already working to reduce waste and losses).

However, that same government is allowing millions of illegals into the country placing an added cost/energy/food burden on the order of $500 Billion/yr. Then they create $trillions out of thin air and ramp up inflation, costing Americans about $5 trillion per year and borrowing from future taxpayers.

Border security alone could save 5x as much as this program hopes to attain. Government fiscal responsibility could save 70x as much. Withdrawing from the Ukrainian conflict would immediately save all that this food waste program seeks to save.

That is not to say that continual improvement in food efficiency isn’t a worthwhile aim, but couching it in terms of supposed climate change and greenhouse gases is a complete nonstarter. None of this amounts to more than a drop in the ocean of government waste and largess.

Bruce Cobb
June 23, 2022 4:59 am

When we were young we were told to eat everything on our plate because of the “starving children in China” or something. The logic escaped me, but the sentiment didn’t. Food is precious, and not to be wasted. So, we don’t. It is rare to have to throw food out. It’s also a thrift thing. If you waste money, then you might not have it when you really need it. Life throws you curve balls, in addition to things like inflation, especially now, eroding how much your money can buy. I don’t know about younger folk, but that is how we were raised in the 50’s and 60’s.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 24, 2022 3:09 am

same here , Mother was a 1930s depression baby so she and by extension I also lived frugally as you never did know if youd have a wage or a roof over your head. and those times appear to be coming round again

June 23, 2022 5:39 am

Thanks to the EPA, mostly, farmers face restrictions on how manure is handled. The large numbers of manure lagoons sprouting on dairy farms is testament to that. I suspect they give off a lot of methane. No it is not food waste, but it is compost of a sort. Eventually it may get spread on the fields (returned to the soil), or not.

Reply to  starzmom
June 23, 2022 6:50 am

Many dairy operators have two lagoons, one filling and one preparing for disbursement to the fields. One year to fill, then a few months to cook, then spread on the fields, with a few months left to perform any maintenance and prep for filling before switching back to fill.

In the old days youngsters in rural areas got paid to use wheel barrows and forks to clean out the feed barns and pile the manure in large piles behind the barns. When a pile got too large to dump the barrow on, you started a new pile. After about six months a tractor turned the pile over, then six months later it was spread on the field.

So not really that much different, but the very tiny amount of waste material that would run off in a thunder storm is now contained and the cleaning of the barns is automated with a flow of water to carry the waste to the lagoons. There are fewer youngsters in the rural areas now, but those that are there do not get the pocket money jobs as their starter jobs either.

Reply to  starzmom
June 23, 2022 10:00 am

But it can only go on hay field or feed corn fields, not marketable crops.

Reply to  Slowroll
June 24, 2022 3:10 am

which is utterly insane!!

Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 24, 2022 4:42 am

Pun accepted

June 23, 2022 11:17 am

Our city garbage collectors are handing out 5 gallon buckets to put food waste into because a new California state law prohibits dumping food waste into dumps.

They are concerned about methane emissions.

Apparently, they are not concerned with vermin, ants, mold, smell and angry housewives tasked with cleaning the buckets.

Reply to  Doonman
June 23, 2022 11:39 am

What happens to the full buckets? Do they take them away?

jeff corbin
June 23, 2022 2:21 pm

Put the cabbage in the soil and it will compost. We have mountains of composting garbage all around our metro areas. Better yet, give the garbage to your chickens…. you will get eggs, compost and fertilizer for the garden in little time and meat if you don’t mind offing your older hens. We don’t the older hens lay giant eggs.

June 23, 2022 7:23 pm

It is surprising that food waste contributes an “estimated ” 4% of all US carbon dioxide emissions with zero uncertainty associated with the estimate. it seems there is a blanket assumption that food waste is homogeneous across America.

Eric Vieira
June 23, 2022 11:15 pm

What is quite worrying for you people in the US: a lot of food production is being sabotaged, and in a quite systematic manner. So if you don’t watch out, this could end up in a situation where there is no more excess food to waste:( and (

June 24, 2022 4:41 am

Just eat it all and let your bowels do the rest.
Where’s my million dollar grant?

Michael E McHenry
June 24, 2022 7:42 am

When you eat food the body converts it to CO2 and water. So what’s the point with waste and CO2?

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