The Rapidian

Local Compost and Whole Foods: An Interview with Luis Chen from Wormies

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The Kent County Food Policy Council interviews Luis Chen, founder of Wormies, about food waste, local compost and access to food in Kent County
Underwriting support from:
Last year the Kent County Food Policy Council launched to strengthen and grow the food system in Kent County. As we build momentum, discuss, and prioritize issues, we are gathering information and engaging with our community through a project called Everybody Eats: Highlighting Food Experiences in Kent County. Through this project, we invite our community to share their experiences with our food system and highlight the good food work that is already happening here.

Below is an interview with Luis Chen, the founder of Wormies. Wormies was founded to provide the Kent County community a more accessible way to compost their food waste into healthy local soil.

Thank you, Luis, for your good food work and sharing your thoughts with us!

 

Tell me about your relationship with food.

Luis: I’m all about local, whole foods. I actually have been into whole foods for the past 20 years. When I say ‘whole foods,’ I take into account the locality and seasonality of the food. I really try to do my research and eat food that is in season. I enjoy cooking twice a day because I don’t like food that is left over. I think the fresher that you eat, the better it is for your health. If I had to choose between transportation, healthcare, and healthy food, I would choose healthy food. I think that it has helped my physical health a lot to place value on the food that I am putting into my body.

In what way does your organization engage in the local food system?

Luis: There is a climate crisis right now and composting your food waste is a huge part of the solution however it is not accessible for most people in our community: that’s why we created Wormies.

Wormies makes sure that food waste that is generated locally is returned to the local soil through composting. That’s our goal, that’s the service that we offer to our community. We also make sure that we engage with the community – we don’t want to be an isolated company that has no contact with the community. We offer residential services so that members of our community can learn about the waste management benefits of composting.

When someone signs up for our composting program, we give members a share of the product that was made with the food scraps. Every 8 compost pickups, we offer the resident a 1-liter bag of vermicompost. We also give them the option to donate their share to community gardens. Community gardens find a huge benefit in using locally made compost. It gives them the opportunity to grow plants that are more nutrient dense because of the indigenous microbiology that the compost contains. The key in compost is not the nutrients, the key is the microorganisms that it contains. When you have an abundance of beneficial microorganisms, it promotes growth and the plants will be a lot more nutrient dense.

If you were to design a food system rooted in equity, justice and sovereignty, where would you focus your attention and why?

Luis: I would focus my attention on increasing access to local, healthy, whole foods for everyone. We need to provide education on what good food is, increase access to growing your own food, and create access to growing your own food with local soil and compost. When we buy soil from local garden stores, the soil we get is often shipped from out of state. There are farmers in Michigan (including Wormies) who sell locally made soil.

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