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Guest Opinion | Joan Aarestad: A Call to Do the Right Thing on Food Waste Management

Published on Monday, January 24, 2022 | 9:18 am

The Pasadena City Council has the opportunity to propel our city down a path that honors everything our City has to offer—art, science, beauty and our environment. The topic is not sexy, but at its heart is the artfulness of Mother Nature and our deep connection to her.

Simply stated, the City Council needs to choose whether to embrace returning our food waste to soil locally or whether to cede our power to a clunky commercial bio-fuel hauler program that, frankly, stinks to high heaven.

Like any good fight, we have contenders.

In one corner, we have the Rose Bowl, a gem in our City that needs our continued financial support. The Rose Bowl isn’t just about football and raucous music concerts. The Rose Bowl is also the site of a food waste to fertile soil program that has operated successfully for years.

Food that gets tossed in the trash by hordes of visitors gets scientifically managed until it turns back into the dirt beneath our feet. So the roses planted outside the Rose Bowl stadium grow more beautiful because of the mystery of Mother Nature and the innovative oversight of the people at the Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl also operates as an incubator that teaches students about our integral connections with the environment. They earn a little spending money and learn lessons that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Their education may even lead to careers as environmental scientists. We need more of this.

In the other corner, we have Big Garbage. These guys want to convince us that the only way to deal with our food waste is to put it in plastic bags, dump those plastic bags into our yard waste bins and then haul them miles and miles down the freeway.

The end result—bio fuel from food waste—sounds good, but the methodology is absurd when local options make so much more sense. Not to mention how much it will cost the City of Pasadena—and the taxpayers—to foot the bill for hauling. Small scale food waste to bio-fuel facilities already operate in our city and can be scaled up.

With greater vision, we the people of Pasadena can position ourselves as leaders in finding innovative local environmental solutions. The projects can engage our entire community, create new jobs, provide educational opportunities and draw others to Pasadena to see how it all works.

The right thing to do is as clear as the San Gabriel mountains on January 1st—provide more support to the Rose Bowl’s inspirational food waste to soils operation and expand the concept to every other district in the city. Support other local food waste operations so we can all engage in the transformation of our unwanted foods into the soil that grows the roses we love . . . and beyond.

Joan Aarestad

President, East Arroyo Residents Association

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