San Francisco's Table Scraps Make for Much Healthier Wines

Categories: Environment
Thumbnail image for compost.jpg
Allan Henderson via Flickr
... tastes like fine wine
San Francisco residents may have groaned when the city passed mandatory composting laws in 2009, but now they might be sighing in relaxation as they sip wines grown on soil enriched with their city-mandated table scraps.

A record amount of San Francisco compost is being shipped to Napa and Sonoma Valley vineyards this season, acting as an important chemical-free and nutrient-rich fertilizer that grows healthier grapes.

According to Robert Reed, a spokesman for Recology, Inc., the city's waste management company, San Francisco's composting laws provide ample fodder for the finished garbage that is trucked up daily from Recology's compost plants around the Bay Area. The compost makes its way to organic farms and other agricultural outposts -- including Napa and Sonoma vineyards.

"Because the compost we're sending to vineyards is made in part from food, the compost itself becomes food for worms and bugs and microorganisms that live on the vineyards," Reed said. "It stimulates microbial activity on the vineyards and brings life to the soil of the vineyards, which means healthier vines, healthier grapes.

Fall -- right after grape harvest -- is the busiest season for vineyards buying compost, Reed said. And San Franciscans are ready to lend a helping handful of banana peels, yard trimmings, and coffee grounds. As much as 50 percent of all compost that Recology ships to vineyards comes from San Francisco, according to Reed.

Recology picks up 600 tons of food scraps and plants per day from San Francisco, Reed said -- up from 400 tons a day before the law was passed . Households and apartments have "tremendous participation" alongside restaurants, and the city has "completely embraced curbside composting," inspiring other cities and universities to model their composting programs after San Francisco's.

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