Learn how the Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco uses the Four Course compost program, where all its food scraps are recycled into compost, which in turn helps in the growth of vegetables that are served in the restaurant.
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Pam Mazzola: Oh, it's absolutely fabulous. It's what we all want. We wanted to nurture the earth and to keep this cycle going, very important. Toan Lam: From scraps, to soil, to succulent dishes. The Four Course Compost is where food comes, full circle. Pam Mazzola is head chef at famed Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco. Pam Mazzola: Everyone from the owner, Nancy Oaks down to the bus boys, the waiters are involved in the program and everyone is responsible for recycling properly. Toan Lam: The program called Four Course Compost takes restaurant food scraps that leaves this kitchen, becomes compost and eventually returns to Boulevard in the form of healthy organic produce born from that soil supplement. So, how much food scraps are accumulated in a single day? Pam Mazzola: I think we have one or two regular garbage cans. We have four green bins that we put out and two of the metal, glass and plastic bins. Toan Lam: Californians toss out a staggering 5 million tons of food scraps each year. For the past decade, more than 2,100 restaurants in northern California have taken part in this program, where nothing goes to waste. Every single piece of food scrap and table scrap gets reused. Garbage trucks haul away the waste daily and it all ends up here, about 70 miles northeast of San Francisco at Jepson Prairie Organics in Dixon. So Robert this ramp is where all of the composting process beings? Robert Reed: We're at the compost facility, this ramp and the trucks back into this ramp and it tips up in the air, and the food scraps fall out, 25 tons from one truck. Then a tractor scoops up those food scraps and loads them into this sorting system. Toan Lam: Wasting no time, the scraps go through an intense 10 step composting process and turns into nutrient rich soil. It smells really bad out here. I mean we see a lot of decaying apples and produce and what not, but that's a good thing, right? Robert Reed: Well, the smell. When we smell this that you're referring to, this odor, we know there's organic material there. So that tells us that there is a resource there, that there is something there that we should go after; that there are nutrients and there is organic material; and that needs to go back to a farm. Toan Lam: It takes more than a century for food to fully compost in landfills. However, with this modern way of composting, it takes only 60 days. Most of the compost goes to vineyards; the rest goes back to farms like EatWell. Nigel Walker buys about a truckload a week and says he wouldn't dabble in any other dirt. Nigel Walker: Composting is an amazing process. It breaks down all those things, time, and the heat of the composting process. You saw the steam coming off of those composting process has a fabulous effect. What I like about the food scrap is that it doesn't come from factory farms. The food scraps are recycled nutrients that come from the city. So I send a truck of tomatoes up to San Francisco. Then, really, what I'm exporting is all these nutrients. They're used to grow these plants. So we have to replace that, so that it's completing the circle. Toan Lam: Part of that circle includes the weekly truck to San Francisco's farmer's market at the ferry building. Every Saturday, Nigel sells the goods back to restaurants like Boulevard. Nigel Walker: The compost brings the nutrients back to the farm, so that we can grow more produce and send back to the city. Pam Mazzola: I think it just reinforces our connection with the farm. I mean we think it's very important to contribute as much as we can to the cycle that produces all this wonderful food for us. Toan Lam: Pam says the program saves her a lot of money on the trash bill. Farmers save too. Nigel says the difference in price isn't in the soil, but in the cost of transporting it. Both agree the big payoff is taste. So tell us a little bit about the salad that you have here. Pam Mazzola: This is an heirloom tomato salad. These tomatoes have reaped the benefits of the

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