Note: I am a Vitamix affiliate and received the product to test out and receive a small commission if you make a purchase through affiliate links at no extra cost to you. As always, the opinions in the article are my own.
I have been been using the Vitamix FoodCycler for two months now. These are my initial thoughts and opinions of the FC-50. I will continue to update the review as I use it more and incorporate the resulting fertilizer into garden soil.
The Vitamix FC-50 FoodCycler is super easy to use and a surprisingly quick way to turn all your food scraps into soil-ready nutrition. You simply place all your food scraps into the bucket, press the power button and 4 to 7 hours later, the result is clean (clean feeling and smelling) fertilizer ready to feed the garden.
When I found out about the Vitamix FoodCycler through the Vitamix email newsletter, I was so excited and intrigued. Throwing food scraps into the trash just seems like a shame. Not only is it bad for the environment (methane gas in landfills, etc.), but it is potential nutrients for the garden going into the trash. A complete waste.
We have been thinking about compost for a long time; but one of those large bin composters just isn't an option. They take up a lot of space and it takes quite a while (up to a year) before you can use the compost in the garden. Maybe we can blame instant delivery these days for making that an issue.
This is why a countertop food scrap processor that makes garden-ready fertilizer perked my ears and got me so excited.
So, yep, I got one (Vitamix sent it to me to test out). Let's dive into what I love and what I don't love about the FoodCycler FC-50.
- Drying Phase: Removes moisture from the food scraps.
- Grinding Phase: Grinds and continues to dehydrate the scraps into smaller pieces.
- Cooling Phase: Cools the waste mixture, so it is safe to handle.
How to Use It
Always read the manual and follow manufacture's instructions.
- Keep the removable bucket on your counter, under the sink or anywhere convenient.
- Place your food scraps in the bucket and cover with the lid equipped with a carbon filter to prevent smells from escaping.
- When the bucket is filled to the capacity line (or after a few days), place it into the FoodCycler machine, secure the processing lid and press the power button to start the cycle.
- Wait until you hear the beep and the cycle is complete, 4 to 8 hours later.
The Good: What's to Love
Some of the good and some of the bad are the same, just depends on your specific situation.
- It really works! It kinda feels like magic. What comes out looks nothing like what went in.
- Gives almost instant gratification: Go from food scraps to fertilizer in 4 to 8 hours (mine usually runs about 5 hours). Seriously, it's pretty amazing.
- There is only one button that means start: No need to program it, use an app or understand any complex steps. Just press start and it does the rest.
- You will take your trash out less often: Your food scraps are often the ones that will stink up your trash. When you run them through the FoodCycler, they don't smell anymore.
- Takes up only 1 cubic foot of counter space. If you already keep your food scraps out of the trash; then you likely already keep a container on your counter.
- No smells! (Unless you leave unprocessed food in it too long.)
- Better than composting: It takes less effort and you can include items like meat and cheese into the FoodCycler that you wouldn't put in compost.
- Attractive design! Great color and look to it, which is important since it is likely going to be visible.
The Bad: What's Not So Great
- Counter space: If you have a compact kitchen, taking up 1 cubic foot of your valuable counter space isn't optimal. If you have a huge kitchen, it's not a big deal. Or if you have an area in your garage with a power outlet, even better.
- The capacity of the bucket can be too small: We fill up the 2.5-liter bucket about every two days. Sometimes I wish it could fit more, but if it lasted longer, then the contents could start to smell. So it's not a big deal. If you need more space, you could buy another bucket or a separate bin to keep on your counter for overflow.
- Noise: Sound is about as loud as a loud refrigerator or dishwasher when it's running. Really though, the sound doesn't bother me at all, especially when running it at night.
- Power usage: It doesn't run on air and does use some power. Vitamix says that it uses 0.8 kWh to run a cycle, which isn't much.
- Cost: Probably the biggest negative to the product is the cost. It retails at $399.95, but does go on promotion for $50 off or more. This is definitely a high-quality premium product like all Vitamix products are. And you pay for that.
What I Put in It
Food and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, cheese, meat scraps and other produce that has gone past its prime in the fridge.
What I Don't Put in It
- High-sugar-content items like candy. They can caramelize during the dehydration process and stick to the blade.
- Bones: The instructions say you can put meat scraps and soft bones (like chicken or fish bones) into the FC-50, but you should then not use it as fertilizer in your garden. I prefer to be able to incorporate the "recycled food compound" into the garden soil.
- Breads and pastas.
- Fats and oils, hard pits, nut shells, strong leaves like pineapple leaves.
*Always follow the manufacture's instructions.
Advantages Compared to Regular Composting
- Time: It takes only 4 to 8 hours instead of three months to a year.
- Fill it and press start. That's all you have to do. No maintaining it, adding water, mixing, etc. It does everything for you.
- Space: Sure, it takes up about a 1x1 cube. But that is way smaller than a composting bin.
- Wildlife: Compost bins can attract rodents and insects.
(W) 12.6 " x (H) 14.2 " x (L) 13 "
The manufacturer specifies that each cycle consumes approximately 0.8 kWh. You can figure out the cost by multiplying 0.8 x the cost per kWh that you pay on your electricity bill.
The retail price is $399.95, but there are sometimes promotions available.
Place all your qualifying food scraps into the bucket and then into the machine. Press start and it dries and grinds everything into a garden-ready fertilizer in 4 to 8 hours.
For a full list of FAQs, visit the FoodCycler website.
Where to Buy It
The Vitamix Food Cycler FC-50 helps eliminate your food waste from going into the trash by turning scraps into fertilizer in hours. It is a solid, premium product that comes at a price, which is worth it if minimizing waste is important to you.
- FoodCycler FC-50 Collection Bucket Lid Filter (3-pack)
- FoodCycler Replacement Filters
- Replacement Bucket and Lid
Read my 12 Steps Toward Zero Waste (and yep, it includes the FoodCycler)