Would You Cook Food in a Compost Pile?

A compost pile in a community garden.

audaxl / Getty Images

Building a hot compost heap is a rewarding experience for most of us TreeHuggers, but what if you could also use the excess heat from that pile for good? The other day I posted a video on how to heat your shower with compost, and now I've come across a number of accounts of people actually cooking their dinner inside compost heaps. I can't decide if this is genius and energy efficiency at its best, or one of the most spectacular food hygiene fails we have seen. I guess it depends on how well you wrap your food.

Cooking with Compost Widespread

A compost pile in a community garden.

sanddebeautheil / Getty Images

As somewhat of a compost geek, I'm surprised at myself for never having entertained the idea of cooking in my heap before. If Lisa Kaplan Gordon over at HouseLogic's round up article on cooking with compost is anything to go by, there are individuals all over the world experimenting with cooking food in steaming piles of rotting biomass.

Broad Range of Culinary Compost Recipes

A chocolate cake on a patio outside.

Roberto Aronica / EyeEm / Getty Images

Covering everything from a group of school kids baking chocolate cake, to a farmer roasting an entire Thanksgiving turkey, there are undoubtedly some impressive culinary creations coming out of compost piles around the country. And while there are some reported failures too—one urban composter's experiments with rice ended up with chewy results after a full 24 hours—there are enough success stories to suggest that this is a viable if tricky process.

Food Safety and Cooking with Compost?

A compost in a community garden.

Jonas Rönnbro / Getty Images

It seems most people conducting these experiments wrap their food very carefully in sealed vessels and/or multiple layers of foil—yet I am sure there will be plenty of people who aren't too keen on food cooked inside what is essentially a steaming pile of dung. For the squeamish, then, Kaplan Gordon also covers the capture of methane gas from compost heaps that can be stored and used as a regular cooking fuel, with no need for your food and your compost pile to be in even close proximity to each other.