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Collaborative Food Web Safety: Bio-Suppression of Foodborne Infestations, Pathogens, and Herbicides

Measuring the acidity of SoilFeeders bokashi ferment with a pH dye tester strip.

The recovery and storage of putrescible, organic matter in the hotel kitchen can raise concerns about attracting critters and spreading disease to the soil. To prevent such nuisance at the source, our bokashi-based resource recovery relies on airtight containers with the addition of specific, sanitizing bacterial cultures that ensure a controlled and speedy digestion process. Once bokashi is fermented within two weeks' time, it becomes very acidic, thus unappealing as food for rodents or insects. At the farm, the fermented bio-fertilizer is buried in the soil and will not be dug up or eaten up, instead quickly disintegrates in the ground.

Bokashi fermentation is a bacterial-dominated process. It means that the digestive transformation relies on lactobacilli first and then on finishing successions of yeast and fungus strains, akin to kimchi. Lactobacilli are knocking out any other bacterial life because the acidity in this pre-composting process is a major hygienizer. On the pH scale, bokashi measures at the mid-3s, which is an effective suppressant of salmonella bacteria, and wide-spread foodborne pathogens like viruses, mold, mites, and fungal diseases. Since bokashi matures best at room temperature (14°C to 35°C) and in sealed containers, the kitchen team does not have to ever worry about smell emissions, critters, or occupying valuable refrigeration space. Also, the farmer planting crops in a field amended with bokashi does not have to worry about spreading common fungal diseases like Botrytis that affect many plant species, most notably wine grapes. In a disease-fungal bioregion, bringing more probiotic organic materials into the soil suppresses the fungal pressure, thus reducing pathogens entering the crop.

Bokashi entails up to three tiers of successive, bio-sanitizing microorganisms including lactobacilli, yeast, and phototrophic bacteria.

When industry kitchens make their excess organic material available to the farmer using bokashi, then local agriculture can break away from its reliance on external inputs and much better control what is applied to the soil. External inputs like horse manure or municipal yard trimmings often contain persistent herbicides, which are not present when the farmer can utilize foodwaste from the hospitality industry. Thus, the ferment-based collaboration and trust between chef and farmer actively contribute to bio-safety in our local food web.

Keywords: Nutrient autonomy, agri-input control, persistent herbicides, sanitizing acidity.


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