South Korea’s tremendous success reducing food waste through composting

composting decaying vegetables

Throughout the world, the problem of food waste keeps growing, compounding the larger problem of waste and garbage.

There are a number of ways to tackle this problem. One involves wasting less food.

Another involves better management of food waste through composting, and the incredible success of this approach in South Korea can be a model for the entire world. South Korea has managed to increase food waste recycling levels from 2 percent to a staggering 95 percent according to the linked article.

South Korea has embraced composting and linked it to urban farming, with training programs that teach people how to compost food waste.

More importantly, sending food waste to landfills is now banned, and South Koreans are required to discard food waste in yellow biodegradable bags. The cost is typically around $6 per month, which is very reasonable but also puts on cost on throwing out food. This provides an incentive to be more careful about wasting food and also encourages composting.

This is one of those ideas that should be embraced around the world. Perhaps California can start?


Rooftop urban farm in Chicago

Imagine a 75,000 square foot greenhouse on the top of a building in a cold city like Chicago!

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Urban farming in Cleveland

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When you think of a farm, you think of a classic rural image like the one above. But with the emergence of urban farming, the idea of farmland is changing. Older cities like Cleveland and Detroit are starting to use land in the inner city area for farming purposes, and the urban farming trend is starting to grow.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an article about the emergence of urban farming in Cleveland:

Old MacDonald had a farm, but probably not on an abandoned city lot tended by a farmer from Burma and supported by some of the top restaurants in town.

Cleveland, however, has such unconventional growing places. After only a few years of operation, they are bringing home surprising harvests.

Taut-skinned eggplant and fragrant parsley are being snipped off a row and, within minutes, walked three blocks to Flying Fig, Great Lakes Brewing Co. and other popular dining spots in the city’s Ohio City neighborhood. Off East 55th Street, a flower and vegetable farm provides cherished jobs for folks with developmental disabilities.

A few forgotten acres in the Kinsman neighborhood are now a green training ground for farming entrepreneurs. And a vineyard in Hough hasn’t made its first bottle of wine yet, but the vines look good, and the first cork is expected to pop next year.

Check out the whole article and you can see how an economic ecosystem is being built around these farms. The potential is staggering. It’s also interesting to read how the local restaurants are supporting these efforts by using these farms as a source of fresh fruits and vegetables, and you even have Great Lakes Brewery growing hops for their craft beers.


Venture capital starting to look at sustainable agriculture

This is a very encouraging story. Serious early-stage investors are taking a close look at what many are calling Agriculture 2.0. Trends like urban farming have tremendous potential, and innovative trends like that can accelerate with the backing of Silicon Valley.

“Sustainable agriculture is a space that looks as big or bigger than clean tech,” said Paul Matteucci, a venture capitalist with U.S. Venture Partners in Menlo Park, Calif. “Historically, we have not seen a ton of entrepreneurial activity in agriculture, but we are beginning to see it now, and the opportunities are huge.”

A catch-all phrase for environmentally beneficial farming, sustainable agriculture has long been the province of organic enthusiasts. But venture capitalists say a growing awareness of conventional agriculture’s contribution to climate change and concerns over its consumption of water and energy are creating markets for technological innovation to minimize those effects.

The Johnny Appleseed of what is being called Agriculture 2.0 is a 33-year-old former Wall Street investment banker named Janine Yorio. Her New York firm, NewSeed Advisors, brings together sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs and investors.

At the Four Seasons hotel in East Palo Alto, Calif., last month, NewSeed Advisors attracted a crowd of well-dressed investors from some of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms. They packed a ballroom to hear entrepreneurs pitch start-ups developing everything from nontoxic pesticides and analytical tools for soil analysis to indoor urban farming systems.

I think the urban farming trend in particular has huge potential, particularly in Rust Belt cities like Detroit and Cleveland.


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