Cows, Compost and Kilowatts — Anaerobic Digestion to Power Our Future?


We’ve been paying a lot of attention to food waste lately, and hopefully more people will continue to follow this vexing problem with us. The Resource Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that up to 40% of food produced in the US is thrown away! There are plenty of solutions to reducing food waste, but implementing them is a matter of creating awareness around the issues and engaging innovative folks.

Erin Fitzgerald of National Geographic’s The Plate, explains how one such solution can be paired with our energy and fertilizer needs. The answer? Anaerobic digestion of discarded produce mixed with cow manure:

An anaerobic digester simply provides an environment for nature to do its work – the manure and food waste we put into the digester are broken down by microorganisms, and the process produces the bio gas we use to generate electricity,” explains Randy Jordan, dairy farmer at Jordan Dairy Farm located in Rutland, Massachusetts. “In addition to electricity, the process leaves behind an odorless fertilizer which we apply to our fields to help grow more food.”

This food waste/manure-to-energy/compost system is a pretty amazing example of how informed systems-based thinking can solve multiple problems and create a more sustainable world.

PHOTO: courtesy of


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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