of oranges in a dumpster

Our latest adventure led us to oranges. Bag after bag after bag after bag. Sure, each one had one or two moldy little orbs. But each bag also had ten in the perfect condition to fill our mouths with vitamin C and cover our chins in juice.

I was slitting open net bags and separating the moldy from the edible when the Carpenter came into the kitchen. Slice open a bag, toss the squishy, moldy oranges into the compost bucket, toss the good ones into a plastic crate. I take a perverse joy in sorting dumpster booty, in adding bucket after bucket to the compost pile/chicken buffet, in placing produce in pretty, color-coded patterns. You could call me neurotic, and you’d be right. But beyong the obsessive compulsive side of my love of sorting dumpstered vegetables is a deep respect and love for the food that keeps me alive.

The Carpenter grabbed a bag of oranges and ripped it open as I tossed another orange into the compost bucket. “You know, you can’t put oranges on the compost.”

This was news to me. Disturbing news. Oranges, he said, were apparently treated so heavily with pesticides that they were technically considered Sondermüll (special trash that needs to be disposed of at a drop off point and cannot be mixed with the regular trash). I’ve scoured the internet for further information, but have come up empty handed, so if you’ve read about this as well, pretty please tell us all about it in the comments.

Despite the gaping hole in Google results on the subject, I don’t doubt the the Carpenter did hear or read about this somewhere, and I don’t doubt that oranges are sprayed with obscene amounts of pesticides. And contemplating the crate of oranges that I later turned into round after round of apple-orange-pepper-cucumber juice, I have to ask myself this: if our fruit is so poisonous that it is considered appropriately placed right between electronic equipment and rusty cans of turpentine and paint on the trash scale, do we really want to eat them?

0 Comments on “of oranges in a dumpster

  1. I had heard that citrus doesn’t compost well. In particular, I’d heard that it was bad for vermicomposting – even organic citrus. It sounds like that’s an urban myth. Googling citrus composting turns up a bunch of people saying it’s bad without evidence or references, and some people saying that the rind must be broken down by bacteria before the worms will go at it. Also some people swear that adding citrus to their compost helped it… I suspect the fact that orange extracts can be used to clean and the fact that orange peel feels so solid might lead to this assumption.

    I mean, you can tell that oranges decompose… just look at your moldy oranges.

    The pesticide question is an interesting one. I can’t believe that the german government would allow something to be sold AS FOOD that needed to bisposed of as toxic waste…

  2. Adina: Yeah, it does seem to be a myth about them not breaking down. I’ve been putting oranges on the compost for years, and when I shovel the soil onto my garden years later, I’ve never once found a whole orange (or even bits of orange peel).

    As for the chemicals, I can’t imagine the government allowing the sale of something that poisonous either. At the same time I feel like the Carpenter must have heard this somewhere. But maybe where he heard it is from another urban-myth spreader. For now, I’m still putting orange peels on the compost at least.

  3. I’ve definitely heard the citrus fruit shouldn’t be put on compost before but not for that reason. I thought it was something to do with how acidic it is but to be honest never paid much attention because any time I have had a compost heap the main reason was to dispose of my kitchen waste rather than to creat award-winning compost to use.

    I’ve just checked what few books I have and the only thing mentioned not to use is meat (you can get certain types of composters suitable for meat but mostly meat, oil and dairy aren’t suitable for ordinary heaps, mostly due to the rat attraction factor). In fact, here’s a direct quote from How to be a Gardener by Alan Titchmarsh and he should know being a VIG and all that (very important gardener that is – was head gardener of the BBC’s Gardeners’ World for years):
    “Use kitchen waste, such as tea leaves, orange peel, potato peelings, crushed eggshells and vegetable waste, as well as lawn mowings and weeds.”

  4. Well, if a big deal gardener puts orange peels on his compost, then it can’t be that bad. I’m with moonshine on composting for food scrap management and not the perfectly balanced compost. We don’t put meat, dairy or oil on our compost because of the rat issue too (though I think with some sort of a more rat-proof corral I would). We try to avoid cooked food, though not all the time because as far as I’m concerned a compost pile is for food scraps and because the chickens tend to eat most of the cooked stuff before the rats come.

  5. I have never composted citrus peel, having been told when I was small that it didn’t decompose, but you’re right – I don’t think I’ve ever discovered one refusing to break down. And I’d believe Alan every time…

    I’m sorry, I must admit to lurking heavily but I never seem to have anything constructive to contribute… 🙂

  6. We put a ton of orange peels in the compost with no problems.

    I’m curious about the potential toxic nature of oranges though. I mean, bananas, sure, but oranges? Curious. I for one looked at all those oranges and thought MARMALADE.

  7. Frau Dietz: Hi! Well, there’s nothing wrong with a good lurk is there?

    Fishie: Thinking about all the pesticides they spray on oranges makes me shudder to remember pissing in the orange fields while Katey and I were hitchhiking in Spain (aka hopelessly walking beside the orange fields for a couple of hours after being dropped off in a terrible spot by a big jerk). Marmalade would have been a good idea. I made juice. Mmmmmmmm.

  8. I don’t know if you write poetry, but your comment has the potential to become such a delightful little poem. Something about traipsing through an orange field and making juice (which is a delightfully saucy pun).

  9. MoonWAVES: hahaha, so I did. 🙂

    Jill: Love the making juice pun. Didn’t even cross my mind. But I’ve never been much of a poet.

  10. Pingback: Thrifty Threads | Angela Barton - My Year without Spending

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