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Evans: Pulper great addition to the kitchen

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | AUGUST 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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It’s been a while since I’ve been in a university dining hall. It’s surprising, I know, because they hold rare and delicious delicacies like flaccid French fries and globular Oreo goop.

This is why most of my food ended up in the trash or was left on the tray or table — that, and lunch ladies scare me.

But, in my absence, the Hillcrest Marketplace seems to have gotten wise to the outbreak of throwing away uneaten scraps: The dining hall installed a food pulper to mash, mush, and mitigate the problem of leftovers.

Students may want to get rid of the dried ribs and hard spaghetti, but thanks to the $58,000 pulper, they (or their remnants) will be sticking around for a little while longer.

The leftover food is sent through the pulper and is transformed into water for washing dishes, new compost sent to the Iowa City Landfill, and fertilizer for the future.

Amazing.

Yes, $58,000 sounds like a massive amount of money for what UI Office of Sustainability Manager Liz Christensen described as “a glorified food dispenser.”

But look at the benefits here. It could save the UI 1.5 million gallons of water and around $18,000 per year — which could pay for a full ride scholarship for one in-state student (hint). Forget about tuition set-aside, let’s install some more pulpers.

And look at the compost the university can help generate. With the new pulper, it’ll be around 137 tons of food composted for fertilizer.

When the compost is ready, some is returned to campus and the rest is sold to the public as part of the Iowa City Community Compost. More funds for the university equal more funds for the students (hint).

And, if nothing else, it is a good faith installment on the UI’s promise to become more environmentally friendly.

Over the past decade, the university has been railing about its sustainability goals for 2020, one of which is to decrease its production of waste. The pulper decreases the dining hall’s production of waste.

So, yeah, it’s a glorified food dispenser. But it’s good for the environment, it’s good for the city, and it’s good for the university. And for that, I salute it.


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