Yosh and I got a worm composter for our wedding – it’s true, we are just that dorky! For the last week or so (yes, we got married in November, but the composter arrived in mid-February, and I finally got around to getting the worms last week), I’ve been the proud mom of a brood of about 1,000 wriggling, very hungry worms.
They live in the Worm Factory, pictured above (p.s. definitely not our kitchen), and I couldn’t be more excited. Yosh on the other hand, is a bit more squeamish about the whole thing, though I can’t blame him. He suffered through a bit of worm trauma when his last roommate neglected to properly feed worms, and the bin quickly self destructed.
But aside from the nachas I feel over the little munchies - which was a definitely surprise – I was certainly not counting on our compost bin bringing up halachic (Jewish law) questions. Then Passover entered the horizon.
Inspired by Arlyn’s recent post, “Can You Be Chametz-Free in 29 Days?” I started raiding the kitchen for old ends of challah, bagel halves, and loaves of stale bread that I shoved in the freezer instead of throwing them away. According to the Worm Factory guidebook, worms like to eat fruits and vegetables, starches of all kinds – pasta, doughnuts, rice, cereal, stale bread, etc. – and what they call “healthy snacks” – coffee grounds (a standout favorite among our worm crew), crushed egg shells, and tea bags. What better way to slowly rid the house of chametz that we aren’t going to eat, then feed them to the compost bin?
But what happens if, when Passover begins next month, there is still some starchy debris hanging out in the pile that has not yet been converted to soil? Do we own that chametz? Are we benefiting from it because our worms are happy and healthy? Do we need to, gulp, sell our bin to the neighbors? Like any Jewish mother, I’m reluctant to let go and entrust them in someone else’s care.
I thought about consulting The Shmethicist on this one (and I’d definitely love to hear her thoughts), but I think we’re in need of a rabbinic opinion here – or three – on this one. Help a worm-loving sister out!
Photo Credit: BWCN Farms