The Smells of Real Life

They say “smells ring bells.” As humans, our sense of smell is strongly linked to our memory. Well, after filming this most recent story about food waste, I’m certainly left with many new “memories.”

Imagine heaping piles of decomposing produce being pushed around by a bulldozer. A large truck pulls up, unloading slabs of expired processed “mystery” meat from a pet food manufacturer. Around the corner, a man hoses thousands of gallons of cow manure into deep pools to bake in the intense Colorado sun. This is the recipe for stench I endured.

I stood on piles of rotting food and in pools of bile to get epicly disgusting shots. I wore my good boots. Stupidly, stupidly, I wore my favorite pair of boots. I’m not really sure what would’ve been the ideal footwear in this situation. Maybe just a couple of garbage bags? Filming the delivery from a dairy farm, I even got misted with a nice, refreshing breeze of liquid cow manure. My most vivid recollection from the whole experience is when I walked by a vent from the digester that spewed warm air so putrid that I became slightly lightheaded and disoriented upon its intake. Once home, I scrubbed my boots for twenty solid minutes. I showered and rinsed away the smells that had been absorbed by my hair and skin. I washed my tainted clothes.

But as our subject Scott Pexton says so eloquently in the video, “these are the smells of real life.” Nature works to break down food and produces gas just like our own bodies (which we know can be quite stinky, too). They’re putting this food waste to incredibly efficient use, using it to generate renewable natural gas instead of rotting in landfills, damaging our ozone layer. If some terrible smells are the only negative byproduct of this environmentally friendly and energy efficient process, I’m okay with that. In fact, I think I’ll remember it fondly.



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Hunter and Scott Pexton enjoying a clean indoor environment.