Vandra Thorburn | Food Forward | PBS Food

Food Rebel: Vandra Thorburn



Occupation Founder & President of Vokashi Location Brooklyn, New York Favorite Food Broccoli Rebel Story I am a waste rebel how bout that? I just have fallen into this sort of golden years of a completely new life as a composting queen and when I thought about setting up a composting service a couple of– 3 years ago– I knew I lived with compostors, there were people who were taking their food scraps down to the market and I thought to myself perhaps, there’s an opportunity here for me to help households recycle their food waste by collecting it. That seemed like a nice idea, but then I thought, “How am I going to be handling rotting food?” There was no way that I was going to handle rotting food so I did some research and that’s when I came across a Japanese method of fermenting food waste called Bokashi. The whole point about Bokashi is that you can change rotting food, you can do something else with the food, you can pickle it, you can preserve it, you can manage it, you can take the time as needed to put it, to put your food waste into a bucket, very easy put the lid on it and go to sleep. It’s like this wonderful little cycle that everybody is now into on the first Saturday of the month, I come through and I’m going to pick up your food scraps.


What is the problem with food waste in America today? The big problem is we don’t even think about where our waste is going but where it is actually going is the landfills. A third of our landfills are organic waste; and that’s what’s really destroying the ozone layer. What is the solution? A Composting service is the way to go. Just think local, just think about your neighbors. Think about the collection of your waste, whether it’s food waste or any other kind of recycling. If you have a community garden, you go down to the community garden, and you say Hi, who’s taking the food scraps here? What is your earliest food memory? I do remember farming and it’s actually a memory of a little picture that I have of me in New Zealand at a dairy farm and it’s a picture of me with little gum boots on and a pale and I’m going to go milk a cow. I just love being here and in my gumboots and I always go back to this little moment and this 6 year old me, and going back to that farm land but in terms of food it’s baking. I remember sort of baking cookies and licking out the pot, and bowl at the end and actually when I was a teenager I used to love to cook and I made a wonderful soufflé. I used to make some great cheese soufflé and in fact, my father always told me to be a cook which I always thought was such an insulting suggestion. Be a cook? No! I wanted to be a teacher, be a nurse, be an actress be something, but a cook?! And now I’ve realized well, I could’ve been a cook really and it wouldn’t have been so bad.

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