Food Waste & Backyard Composting

Why Should Winona County Care?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply and is the largest category of material placed in municipal landfills. This is the equivalent of a family of four throwing away $1,200 each year. The best approach to reducing food loss and waste is to not create it in the first place. Any part that Winona County can play in food waste reduction efforts is an attempt to give back to the land, water, labor, and energy that went into producing, processing, transporting, preparing, and storing our food.

Food Waste Reduction Ideas

Here are several ideas on how you can reduce the about of food waste you produce.

  • Utilize Your Freezer - Wrap and seal food tightly with foil, plastic wrap, or freezer bags to help protect food from freezer burn. Enjoy your leftovers up to six months later! 
  • Learn the Best Storage Practices for Fruits and Vegetables so They Last Longer -  Did you know the best way to store cut celery is to have it submerged in water? How about that you can put fresh herb stems in an inch of water to make them last longer!
  •  Consider Donating - Winona Volunteer Services accepts food donations Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm. They also accept produce from your garden or purchased from local grocery stores. Make sure the food items you are donating are unopened, safe and not exceeded its expiration date. 
  • The FoodKeeper App - Provides guidance on the safe handling, preparation, and storage of foods. The app offers specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for various products including meat, poultry, produce, seafood, dairy products, eggs and more. This app will educate consumers and provides different resources that can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness. 
    • With the app, users can:
      • Access cooking tips and methods for various types of meat, poultry, and seafood products.
      • Add products to their device's calendar and receive notifications when they are nearing the end of their recommended storage date.
      • Receive information on food safety recalls.
      • Search food and beverages in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Apple Store

Play Store

Backyard Composting 

Composting is a great opportunity to turn organic food and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil through a microbial process! Composting is another food waste reduction effort.  

What You Can Compost
What You Should Not Compost 
Nitrogen-Rich Material ("Greens")Meat, fish and bones
Glass Clipings
Cheese and dairy products
Vegetable Scraps
Pet waste
Coffee grounds and paper filters
Fats, oils and greases
Paper tea bags (no stables)
Glossy paper
Crushed eggshells
Painted wood
Carbon-Rich Materials ("Browns")Diseased and pest-infested plants
Dry Leaves
Cooked food
Shredded paper & paper bags  (cannot be glossy or colored)
Dryer lint
Small sticks
Herbicide treated plants
Plant Trimmings
Aggressive weeds/weeds with seeds

6 Steps to Composting

  1. Collect and store your browns and greens. Collect and store your food scraps in a closed container on your kitchen counter, under your sink, or in your fridge or freezer. 
  2. Setting up your compost spot. Choose a spot in your yard that is easiest to get to year round and has good drainage. Next, decide what type of bin you want for your pile. If you choose to build one, bins can be constructed from materials such as wire, wood, and cinder blocks.
  3. Prepare your compost material. Before adding your compost materials to your pile, chop and break them into smaller pieces. By doing this, you will help the material in the pile break down faster. 
  4. Layering your pile. Start your pile with a 4-6in layer of bulky browns such as twigs and wood chips. Then layer your greens and browns. When adding in your browns and greens, try to have two to three times the volume of browns to the volume of greens.
  5. Maintain your compost pile. Air and water are key ingredients! As your pile begins decompose make sure to turn your compost occasionally to increase air circulation and that your combined materials have the consistency of a damp sponge.
  6. Harvest! A well maintained pile will be finished and ready for use in about 3-5 months.