We’re the first to admit that it’s hard to sex up a story about new legislation governing recycling and compost. It’s worthy and good for readers to know about this stuff, but for a writer attempting to insert some color into the story, it’s an uphill battle.

So we have to applaud the Chronicle’s John Cote for his evocative ledes as he’s covered this issue:

From today:

Throwing orange peels, coffee grounds and grease-stained pizza boxes in the trash will be against the law in San Francisco, and could even lead to a fine.

From August 8, 2008:

San Francisco residents who don’t sort their banana peels from their used aluminum cans may still face a fine, but it won’t cost them nearly as much as originally proposed.

From August 1, 2008:

Garbage collectors would inspect San Francisco residents’ trash to make sure pizza crusts aren’t mixed in with chip bags or wine bottles under a proposal by Mayor Gavin Newsom. And if residents or businesses don’t separate the coffee grounds from the newspapers, they would face fines of up to $1,000 and eventually could have their garbage service stopped.

From this, one might extrapolate that John Cote’s diet is comprised of orange peels, coffee, pizza, bananas, food from cans, chips, and wine.

We contacted the American Dietetic Center’s Consumer Nutrition Hotline, outlined this diet for them, and got this response:

This diet is very concerning. The lack of protein, of green vegetables, and fiber worries me, as does the reliance on “convenience foods.” I suggest you seek the help of a physician or nutritionist as soon as possible. Because if you’re not in trouble eating like that, soon you will be.

Chilling! So, let’s hope Cote’s colorful ledes are just that — color — and not an accurate representation of what’s going into his blue, green, and black cans.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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