Worms eat my garbage
by intern Jorge Cubas
MAKE is a quarterly DIY magazine for geek hobbyists and everyday item-hackers who gladly void their warranties to unlock the hidden potential behind their Robosapiens and old iPods. I inhale every issue; Cory Doctorow’s insightful essays on intellectual property (which I often cite to defend my rampant file-sharing), potato-guns, cigar-box guitars, soldering lessons, and lately, humanure and vermiculture. My worm bin is my latest obsession, and this one might stick. But first, a bit on how I got here.
I had once proudly placed Norman Borlaug at the top of my personal heroes list. His passing last month was, for me, eerily emblematic. At school, among scientists, the Green Revolution was framed in such a way that I could never doubt its nobility and the urgency with which it was executed. Borlaug had saved a billion lives. How could that be wrong? One evening last winter, my friend Evan angrily (over cheap Trader Joe’s wine and pierogies) began me down a path of revelation: food aid had been used by the US to gain political power over developing nations. GMOs threatened food sovereignty by providing absurd legal power to companies like Monsanto. I read Raj Patel’s work, watched King Corn. I sadly gave up my dreams of feeding the world. I felt betrayed by science.
I traded Borlaug in for an urban farmer named Will Allen. Most intriguing was his curious affection for the worms he keeps. He seems to measure the worth of his farm by the health of his worms. People had been responding to agribusiness all around me and I had never before paid attention, because I believed them to be radical, and traditional farming techniques antiquated. I learned about CSA’s and composting and a non-profit called Slow Food USA.
So when the Re-Make America issue of MAKE arrived this July with instructions for an indoor worm bin, I thought it serendipitous. I ordered worms from the Lower East Side Ecology Center and bought a plastic container, into which I drilled many many holes. A neighbor’s giant bag of shredded legal documents provided the bedding and my family’s immense supply of kitchen scraps meant my new pets would never go hungry. My worm population soared. Now I have a bin full of food-growing power.
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