I've only had experience getting coffee grinds for my worm bin. It's never been that hard. Usually just ask the clerk if they have used coffee grounds and if I can have them. Sometimes they'll ask that you supply your own buckets and they'll fill them, kinda depends. Starbucks often times has them bagged up and at the register.
I am curious about this myself.
My chickens could really tear up some scraps.
I'm thinking you would either need to rifle through their garbage on the down low, or be incredibly reliable and frequentin picking up the waste.
Either way, a mom and pop local place is probably a better target than the big chains.
Chinese buffets seem like a logical place to start.
On a different track, local food banks often throw out produce,as it's already long in the tooth when it gets to them.
A fishmonger might have fish heads to spare.
A traditional butcher might have tallow.
Im looking into adding used frying oil to alfalfa pellets as chook feed.
I approached a local coffee truck and asked about their waste grinds, offering to buy lidded buckets for them to use and agreeing to pick up three days a week. Since I've ALWAYS picked up as agreed and always provide cleaned replacement buckets, I've been able to keep this arrangement going for years. If there's a day when I know I can't pick up, the coffee people know about it in advance, and I make sure that they have extra clean buckets on hand.
Other people around here have the pickup arrangements with the food markets and restaurants, so I've had no luck there. But I have trained my egg buyers to bring me their kitchen waste when they pick up eggs. So I have a steady influx of both chicken food and compostable material. I have local hunters who want taro, so I trade taro for slaughter waste. And I trade eggs and veggies for fish waste from the fishermen.
William, my own chickens don't like alfalfa pellets. They will eat a little if it is mixed in with their cooked slop & glop, but by itself, they won't touch them. I can sneak a cupful of pellets into a gallon of slop & glop. As for used cooking oil, I can get by mixing about a 1/2 cup into a gallon of slop & glop.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
We asked around at a few family restaurants and struck gold at one. It also has a butcher shop. We've been getting a 55 gallon bucket of kitchen scraps daily for a few years now - sometimes it's only a third full, but it's all good. They buy local organic produce. And for a while we were getting the fat trimmings from the butchery that we rendered into tallow/lard for making soap, which we sell in their storefront. And on a few rare occasions we got slightly outdated meat that we gave to the birds for extra protein. One day I came home with over a hundred pounds of ground beef!
A couple of years we've had pigs that also get some of the scraps. And then we get pictures of them for the restaurant so they can use it for promoting how they're not being wasteful.
The chickens and ducks love it, but don't eat even half of it. But that's cool because it's a great source of compost which we need lots of. We use a front end loader to manage the compost piles.
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We pick up out of date produce 5 days a week from one of the largest chain stores in the country. We raise pigs for sale, on lots and lots of free vegetables and fruit. The pigs are super healthy, and tend to have lots of fat. The fat we use for soap making, which we also sell. The store sorts their selves every morning, then puts the throwaway in the cooler. We pick it up before noon. The "trick" to the whole thing is that we called the chains head office for permission. They like to be known as recyclers. They told the local store to do it. ....Side benefit (but don't tell anyone) is that we have not needed to buy produce for ourselves for a long time.
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My wife manages one of those drive through coffee shops and she collects about 10 gallons of grounds a day. We take about half for our compost and a lady who does worms gets the rest.
I have inquired at grocery stores for vegetable scraps, but they told me they are not allowed to give them away due to code violations for feed, so make sure you say you will be composting them. I guess in the long run you will.
My local breweries also have huge amounts of spent grains, great stuff for composting, but I'm not sure what nutrition they have after brewing a wort and extracting all the sugars.
We get weekly throw outs from our local grocery store.
Many grocery stores do not allow this since it does put them in a liable situation and thus the toss out food is rendered inedible by the store pouring "nasty" things on the food then locking the lids to their dumpsters.
The best way to find out if the Home office will allow you to pickup the throw outs is to ask the local store manager and or the produce manager.
If the company allows it and no one else has first dibs, then you can get lucky.
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I once lived with a kid who left a tote with the local food co-op that they filled with spent produce for his 'pig'. He had some pigs but we also high graded the score for human food. The same co-op was not into giving me a bin for potential human consumption or 'composting'. My take away is that having a scapegoat or pig or turkey might help. Even if they're only mythical.