Grocery food waste is feeding farms

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 5:53 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 21 at 11:26 AM

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- A Kirkland grocery store is resolving to waste less food in 2014 and made a mighty investment to keep that New Year’s resolution.

The Bridle Trails Red Apple purchased a Harvester, a large machine that basically blends food into a slurry-type substance that is converted to a registered organic fertilizer.

Redmond startup WISErg created the harvester and has already sold them to PCC stores in the Seattle area.

WISErg CEO Larry LeSueur said he and co-founder Jose Lugo are both dedicated to renewable energy and were trying to find a way to put value in the billions of dollars worth of food that is wasted every year. They came up with the Harvester. Grocery stores and other food producers buy the machine and use it for wasted food that is not eligible for a food bank.

Bridle Trails Red Apple Manager Duane Pearson said the staff used to toss the aged produce, bread, meat and other items into the dumpster or compost bin. He said that resulted in expensive disposal fees and a messy and smelly area behind the store. Pearson said the harvester is easy to use and produces no unpleasant odors or noise.

The harvester feeds the liquefied food into a tank that is emptied and trucked to WISErg’s Redmond facility, where it is then converted, through a secret process, into an organic fertilizer that is rich in nutrients without the need to import nitrogen and other chemicals.

The fertilizer is currently being tested with promising results on farm fields in Eastern and Western Washington.

WISErganic Liquid Fertilizer can also be used on residential lawns and gardens. LeSueur said it is made of the same kind of balanced diet healthy people eat. He said plants need those nutrients just like people.

It is available at PCC markets and the Bridle Trails Red Apple.

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