The average American household has become accustomed to recycling. Diligently separating out the paper and cardboard items from glass and plastic households appropriately sort their trash for disposal. On trash day the generic household trash is carried to the curb and is set next to the pre-sorted recyclables ready to be picked up by the sanitation service.
It’s time to take the recycling to a new level. What about recycling your food scraps? Before you click away because the idea sounds too gross, let’s talk about the process of bokashi.
What is Bokashi?
Bokashi, which means fermented organic matter, is a way to ferment your food scraps (including meat, bones and other food items) prior to returning them to the earth for decomposition. The fermented matter decomposes at a much faster rate than the traditional compost pile.
With bokashi food will fully decompose in about 4 to 6 weeks. Compare that to the several month decomposition time for food in a traditional compost bins.
The Bokashi Process
The bokashi process requires food, a receptacle with a lid and bokashi bran. Bokashi bran is made from wheat bran (or sawdust), molasses, water and effective microorganisms. The food and bran are placed in the container in a lasagna layering fashion. A couple of inches of food followed by a handful of bran sprinkled over it. The process is repeated until the container is full.
Because the effective microorganisms in the bran ferment the food, the food does not rot. Therefore, when you open the bucket to add more scraps your nose is not assaulted by the smell of rancid, rotten food.
Disposing of the Fermented Food
When the bucket is ready, the last step is to bury the food in soil so it can fully decompose. For folks with yards, burying is no problem. However, apartment dwellers might have to get more creative.
Households without yards can still bury bokashi scraps. All it takes is a large container with dirt. Bury the scraps in the dirt container and let it sit for 4 to 6 weeks. The bokashi will decompose leaving nothing but nutrient rich soil that can be used on houseplants or lawns.
Bokashi and City Living
Bokashi has become a favorite for folks who live in apartments. In the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, Vandra Thorburn, owner of of Vokashi has a thriving business whereby she provides fermenting bins and bokashi bran for apartment dwellers. When the bins are filled, Vokashi swaps the full bin for an empty one.
The full bins are collected and buried it in a community lot. In that well-nourished soil in the community lot they grow vegetables. Vokashi brings a bit of the farm to a Brooklyn community where they get to have organic, nutrient-rich fresh vegetables. How’s that for sustainability?
In the suburbs, just like in the city, bokashi is used to grow vegetable gardens, household plants and maintain chemical-free organic lawns. Bokashi not only nourishes the soil, but it significantly reduces the amount of household trash.
This article provides a brief bokashi overview. I hope it was enough to plant a seed of interest to encourage you to find out more.