Adina Lichtman, 11/13/14
It was only about 3 years ago that my brother was dating someone completely insane… I would see her take all our scraps of food from our plates or from the salads my mom and I would cut, and put it in a bag. My only reaction was “eww, that’s disgusting.” I could not understand why she would do it, and all she would say is “I’m composting Adina, it’s good for the environment.” I would just look back at her with one eyebrow raised and a face twisted in disgust. My left over eggshells from the eggs I made that morning or the corn on the cob that I couldn’t finish suddenly became her greatest excitement. She would tuck it away in a plastic bin and dump in some pile outside that I never even took the time to look at. Quite honestly, I thought it was beyond bizarre; my family doesn’t even have a farm! The most we ever did was plant a few flowers in our front yard, but it was those few flowerbeds that she placed her compost.
Then a year later I came to NYU, and saw signs for composting everywhere but I figured – well at least here it makes a bit more sense, at least logistically, its next to all the other garbage cans in the cafeterias! And I just throw it in the garbage; I don’t even have to look at it! I still didn’t quite understand the whole logic behind composting, I just figured cow manure is good for the soil, and there is no reason for any farmer to need my leftovers.
Then came the first day of Urban Agriculture class, which I took partially because urban Ag is all the rage these days and I wanted to be a little more familiar with the importance of farm-to-table markets and why it is so beneficial for our farms, nutrition and communities. The first day of class we were taken to the farm, and we were brought to the composting bin. Before the bin was opened, the teacher explained how people throw their old eggplants in there, and eggshells and lettuce that was rotting and more! As she began to open the lid, I pinched my nose and looked away. I eventually caved and turned my head really slowly toward the direction of the composting bin, and my eyes surprised me. I saw luscious beautiful rich brown soil, a saw a few beautiful pieces of carrots sticking out along with some bits of green lettuce poking through. But the soil was flawless. I slowly took my hands off my nose and very lightly sniff a bit of the smells, and all I could smell was pure fresh dirt. No rotten or moldy smells at all, I even put my head closer to the bin, my nose just inches from the compost and all I could smell was pure soil. I was blown away; all I wanted to do was touch it with my hands. When everyone walked away I went back a touched it with my hands, so fresh, so earthly. I couldn’t stop smiling; the beauty of composting enchanted me. How our garbage can become our most precious resource. There are so many lessons to learn from that one concept alone. And I will never judge any of my brother’s girlfriends for composting ever again… although I can’t promise that for other things as well! 😉