Bokashi! Pronounced BOO-KA-SHI. Is what exactly? Let me tell you.
One thing we realised with going regional, is that it means dealing with greater amounts of unprocessed food and its consequent organic waste. More leaves, more peels, more inedible bits. This is because usually a processing plant, whether it is the factory that makes your tomato sauce or the supermarket that cuts and peels your carrots for you, deals with the processing phase of your food. You never see the amounts of organic waste that is produced to supply you with your already prepared stir-fry mix, and I'm sure it also does not get composted and sent back to the farmer to rework into the soil.
So, once you start buying more unprocessed foods directly from producers, this means dealing with the organic waste yourself. Ideally turning it into something that the farmer who produced your food can work back into the soil. Why? Well, because the nutrients in our food come from the soil and have to somehow be replenished. We're in actual fact borrowing nutrients from the soil and if we want the soil to sustain us, then we have to return nutrients to it. So guess what allows us to do this? BOO-KA-SHI! :)
If you are familiar with vermiculture or earthworm warming, bokashi bins will make more sense. If not, here is a short explanation. When you recycle your waste, the first step is to separate the organic stuff (leaves, peels, egg shells, left-overs) and the non-organic stuff (glass, plastic, paper, tins). Recycling the non-organic stuff is pretty easy and straightforward, and you could give Mr. Recycle a call to pick it up from you each week for a small fee. The organic stuff is a bit more of a challenge. If you have a big garden and a wormery and/or compost heap, stop reading here. If, however, like us, you live on the second floor of an apartment building, with your herb pots having to substitute a garden, all that organic material becomes a hassle. Well, that is until you buy your first bokashi bin!
A bokashi bin works on the same principle as a wormery. It consists of two buckets, one inside the other, and a small tap at the bottom of the outside-bin. The inside-bin has is a bit shorter than the outside-bin and has holes in the bottom. Every day you add a layer of organic waste to the inside-bin. Layers of organic waste are sprinkled with bokashi, which is a bran housing effective micro-organisms (commonly known as EM) that break down the organic waste for you. AND NO, IT DOESN'T SMELL. If you do it right, it actually smells like freshly baked bread. A little bit. :) Once a week you drain the juices by opening the small tap at the bottom of the outside-bin. The juice can be diluted 1:10 and sprayed on your plants or poured down drains to keep them clean. Works like a charm!
It takes about a month to fill up one bin, which then needs to sit around for a week or so before you can take it to the organic farmer that produced your food! S/he and the soil will LOVE you for it. Because you won't be able to use it during the fermentation week, you'll need another one. You'll also need about 3 packs of bokashi to fill up a bin. So, you need 2 x bokashi bins and 3 bokashi packets per bin.
The bins come with instructions and your first tub of bokashi. You can buy the bins and the bokashi either from A Green Cafe at the Sustainability Institute, or from Die Boord Spar. Students receive a discounted price from A Green Cafe.
Let's close this loop. Happy bokashifying.