In the Field: Interviewing an EPA scientist
Farmer D interviews an EPA scientist about food waste. (Nick Scott/MNN)
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Farmer D: Alright, I’m here with my friend, Mary Beth Van Pelt. She’s a scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency, aka, the EPA. And, Mary Beth, tell us a little bit about what the EPA is doing to help pollinate the good food movement?
Mary Beth: Well, I work with materials management within EPA, and that does -- that’s a very broad term, but our main goal is to divert materials from the landfill. And so my focus is on removing food residuals from the landfill and finding other uses for them, whether they’re diverted to a food bank, or to a homeless shelter, or to a composting operation. And a lot of this is all about education. We all want to be environmentalists; it’s just people don’t know what they can do.
Farmer D: What can people do?
Mary Beth: Well, recycle. Another thing, as far as the food is concerned, is source reduction. You know, think of how much, when you open your refrigerator, you say, “Well, that’s not any good, and that’s not any good, and that’s not any good.” Well, maybe you need to reconsider, at home, what you purchase and what you actually do consume. So, source reduction and, you know, working with food banks brings a real, you know, enlightenment to us as to exactly how lucky we are in this country to have such a readily available supply of food to most of us. You know, and so we need to be grateful for that, and to be considerate, you know, and not be wasteful.
Farmer D: Well, it’s been an honor working with you and the rest of the EPA and, and, in our composting initiatives here, and I hope that our work is something that will be a successful model.