Closing the loop
In search of food rebels everywhere, Food Forward welcomes our first guest blogger, Yvette Cabrera. Yvette visited Suzie’s Farm, a 70-acre farm located near the Tijuana Estuary, 13 miles south of Downtown San Diego and spoke with three composting pioneers who came up with an enterprising method to connect the farm and the table.
Closing The Loop
by Yvette Cabrera
“Our ultimate goal is to save family farms,” said Chris Young, one of the three founders of Closing the Loop-San Diego, a composting group that aims to make organic food more affordable, help local restaurants, fix our topsoil, and get people to love their food.
Closing the Loop was just an idea 4 months ago, and starting 8-weeks ago, this idea was put into action by three people: Chris Young (farmer), Chelsea Coleman (chef/farmer), Amrita Rumberger (chef/farmer). Closing the Loop provides a “for-fee” service, in which a couple of restaurants around San Diego coordinate a pick-up of their food waste that is then redistributed through a network of small farms. The restaurant generating the food waste pays a fee for the pick-up and that fee is split between the farmers that are receiving the food scraps, thereby “closing the loop” (hence their name. Essentially, they are actually paying farmers to do composting. Instead of paying big corporations to put this food waste in a landfill, they are inspiring restaurants to redistribute it back to the farmers and the land. Closing the Loop is one of the few companies in the U.S. doing this on a commercial scale. Since June 2nd, calculations have shown that 14 tons of waste has been diverted from the landfills back to the farms with the involvement of only 8 restaurants!
So, why composting?
When I asked the three composters this question, their response was that the average American produces around 5 pounds of waste per day, and a bulk of that is compostable. In the United States alone, 1 billion tons of topsoil is lost per year. Our food is less nutrient dense than it was 50 years ago due to a lack of nutrients in the soil. “Composting is just the responsible thing to do” said Chelsea, it allows us to cut down on waste, extend the life of our landfills, replenish our topsoil, create economies for farms, remake our food nutrient dense by feeding the soil and taking care of it, and educate people about these issues.
Approaching their work from the standpoint of both chefs and farmers, Closing the Loop San Diego is growing quickly and hopes to expand to different counties and cities, and one day, to maybe even shut-down a landfill and use this model to create alternate jobs in composting. Most of all, they know that what is needed is a paradigm-shift, one in which composting is no longer just another radical idea, but the norm!
For more information, please visit: http://www.closingtheloopsd.com/
Yvette Cabrera was born in Mexico City, and moved to the United States as a child and grew up in San Diego. At UC Berkeley, she majored in Peace and Conflict Studies with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice (GPP). There she became an ally of the West Oakland food justice group, People’s Grocery and thus began her interest in food issues. Since then, she has worked on organic farms in Argentina and San Diego, interned with the Oakland Food Policy Council, traveled throughout South America, and worked at a farm-to-table restaurant in San Diego. More recently, she has been accepted to volunteer with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic with the Health Extension Program. Until then, she will be surfing, sailing, working and enjoying life in San Diego–and trying to get some good food along the way!