A Food Recycler for the Sustainable Kitchen

A Food Recycler for the Sustainable Kitchen - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Photo Courtesy of Vitamix

Product reviewed: Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

As a registered dietitian and avid gardener, having a way to recycle food scraps and turn them into fertilizer using one tool is the most sustainable way to feed my vegetables. That’s exactly what the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 does. It can reduce grocery waste because almost all leftover food and ingredients can be recycled and used as compost. It features a recycler box system that has a removable waste bucket with carbon filters and a special lid to mask food scrap odors while storing in between uses. Its compact design allows you to store the FoodCycler in a kitchen cupboard. After setting it up, fill the bucket with scraps, close the lid and press the “on” button to start a cycle. Marketed as easy to use, the machine can turn virtually all kitchen scraps into waste, including fruit and vegetable peels, animal protein, coffee grounds, eggshells and pet food.

I am a minimalist in the kitchen, so I try to keep my gadgets to only those that are absolutely necessary. As a busy mom and a professional recipe developer, though, it’s sometimes difficult to use all the food that’s prepared in my kitchen. Adding the Vitamix FoodCycler to my kitchen seems like a no-brainer (even if it takes up a bit of real estate in my bulging cupboards). When the FoodCycler arrived at my house, I immediately noticed how heavy it is – 26 pounds, to be exact! I quickly realized why, though, as I set it up and noticed it’s made of mostly high-quality materials. The removeable bucket is made of heavy steel, so I know it’ll hold up over time. I read the directions, which were incredibly easy to follow, and the entire unit was quick to set up. In just a matter of minutes, I was able to toss some of my food scraps into the machine and turn my leftovers into garden food.

I was excited to find that my fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, meat trimmings and eggshells could go through the machine, as those are waste products I tend to toss into the garbage (with the exception of onion peels and carrot and celery scraps, as those go in a freezer bag to make stock). A Food Recycler for the Sustainable Kitchen -Some of the other items I often toss out, like citrus rinds, starches, condiments and high-sugar fruits like cherries, can go through the FoodCycler, but in small quantities and only when mixed with other food scraps. Unfortunately, you cannot send nut shells, pineapple leaves, hard pits, cooking oils or grease, candy and gum, or large, hard animal bones through the FoodCycler. Still, I feel pretty good about how many items I can recycle.

It is noted that the system works best when combining different types of scraps and mixing up heavy food pieces with lighter, dryer ones. I followed this instruction when I combined a few banana peels, some pork trimmings, a couple of lemon rinds, a bit of leftover casserole and some eggshells — and I had no problems. When the cycle was complete, I placed the storage lid on top and left it under my sink for more than a week. When I grabbed the bucket for a sniff test, I didn’t detect any odors until I removed the lid to use the FoodCycler to make another round of fertilizer.

Although there are a few limitations with the machine, it is pricy and it’s another appliance to store in my kitchen, I do think it’s worth it. I like that I’m “giving back” to my food supply by feeding the fertilizer to my garden, then recycling that waste again rather than tossing it in the garbage. And I enjoy that it’s easy and quick to set up, plus it recycles things like banana peels that don’t have a use from a culinary standpoint. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 to those who don’t garden or have a use for the fertilizer, or for those with limited space in the kitchen, but for people who love to garden and are passionate about sustainability, this machine is a great investment.

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Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD is a food and nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, chef, food photographer, culinary media expert and food writer. She is the creator and owner of TheGourmetRD where she create recipes, food photos and food videos for clients and brands. She also leads workshops for culinary skills, food styling and photography and leads cooking classes. Julie is regularly featured on television and in the media, where she showcases simple, wholesome and delicious recipes from her blog.