Sustaining Farms with Supermarket Food Waste

This is a California company that diverts a great many pounds of wasted food from landfills and onto farmlands without time-consuming composting strategies.

You don’t need to dumpster dive before you realize that supermarkets divert a constant flow of uneaten nourishment to landfills.

When it gets dumped, the waste accomplishes more than smell terrible. It likewise adds to environmental change by discharging methane, a greenhouse gas, which is about 30 times stronger than carbon-dioxide. Actually, landfills are pegged the third biggest supply of methane emanations in the U.S., as per the Environmental Protection Agency (a major cause the USDA as of late promised a 50% national decrease in food waste by 2030).

However, after another California state law [PDF] became effective this April, substantial supermarkets in the state are obliged to jettison the landfill and recycle or compost all their wasted food.


For large grocery stores to conform to the imminent law they  require more locations to keep the waste materials —and a Sacramento-based company gives off an impression of being very much situated to react to this issue. California Safe Soil has built up a procedure that changes truckloads of store food waste into ranch prepared compost it refers to as Harvest to Harvest, or H2H.

“This was something that made perfect sense to me,” CEO Dan Morash says, who established the franchise in 2012, in the wake of resigning a career as an investment broker in the energy industry. “There’s this huge stream of waste from the supermarkets that is no longer safe to eat as it gets to the end of its shelf life, but it still has a lot of nutrients.”

Making use of compost, produced using food waste likewise eliminates the requirement for for synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, he says. This can reduce the amount of nitrate runoff into local rivers and streams, which often lead to dead zones.


The company claims that ever since its launch in year 2012, it has redirected more than 2.2 million pounds of wasted food from landfills, inhibiting the outflows of about 3.2 million pounds of conservatory gases and averting the requirement for more than 1.1 million pounds nitrogen fertilizers.

In what way is Morash’s product different from standard compost? He worked with soil and  fertilizer expert Mark LeJeune to build up a technique that quickly advances the fertilizing of the soil process (which is energized by high-impact assimilation, or microbes bolstered by oxygen that decomposes natural matter). The procedure transforms food waste to fluid compost within three hours.

To start with, the waste is ground into a fluid, and then treated with chemicals to separate the protein, carbohydrates and fat into the unsaturated fats, amino acids, and basic sugars. At that point, it becomes pasteurized (i.e., warmed at very high temperatures) to destroy any pathogens still available.

“The average particle size is very small—26 microns,,” says Morash. “This [allows it to] blend effectively with water.”

A different stream for natural and conventional food exists in the company, as California Safe Soil offers for sale an all-natural form. Both are introduced to farm crops through drip irrigation system.

In year 2012, Morash and LeJeune established in Sacramento, a pilot plant to improve the innovation. The product was popularized in 2013 and is managed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“The California Department of Food and Agriculture is concerned about food safety, so we had to prove that [the fertilizer production process] eliminates pathogens,” Morash says. “So we did a research project called a challenge test at the University of California, Davis.”

To show that the product was effective, the company conducted additional experiments with researchers, including one at U.C. Davis and a strawberry expert at U.C. Cooperative Extension.

Morash claims that use of his fertilizer on tomatoes has upped the rate of food production by between 10 to 15 percent.

California Safe Soil’s target market is mainly large farms that grow crops like strawberries, tomatoes, leafy greens, almonds, and wine grapes. Several of the berry growers that he works with supply for Driscoll’s, Morash says.


But orchard crops like fruit and nuts are especially well suited for this liquid fertilizer. Traditionally, orchard-based farmers “need to till the soil to get organic matter in without cutting up the roots,” he says. “So the ability to deliver organic matter to the soil in liquid form is a big positive.”

At the moment, the company processes food waste from 15 stores across five supermarket chains (Grocery Outlet, Nugget, Safeway, SaveMart, and Whole Foods) in Sacramento. Six days a week, the plant processes about 3,750 pounds of food from between seven to eight markets a day (each brings in an average of about 500 pounds daily).

The Sacramento facility is operating at capacity, but he hopes to build others in the coming years. The idea is to locate plants, like the one Sacramento, near grocery distribution centers. This way, after delivering goods to the stores, the centers’ trucks can fill up with food waste for the trip home, Morash says.

There are additional economic and environmental benefits to locating California Safe Soil plants near distribution centers, he adds. Turning food waste into fertilizer not only saves grocery stores the fees associated with sending it to a landfill, but it also prevents the greenhouse gas emissions and extra transportation costs often needed to deliver it there.

“This has a very positive environmental impact across the board,” Morash says. “It’s going to increase the sustainability of agriculture starting right here in California.”


California Safe Soil’s H2H Fertilizers


All five photos in this article: All courtesy of California Safe Soil

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