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Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 Review (Not Sponsored)

I have been using and testing a Vitamix™ FoodCycler™ FC-50 for a few months, and I’m finally ready to share my FoodCycler review.  This isn’t sponsored; my municipality participated in a program and was able to sell the units to a small number of residents at a discounted price.  If you’re curious about this electric composter, I’ve shared my thoughts and experiences with the FoodCycler – including answers to your own questions sent in through Instagram.

Vitamix™ FoodCycler™FC-50 Review (Not Sponsored) FoodCycler™FC-50 Review (Not Sponsored)

What is a FoodCycler?

The FoodCycler is best described as an indoor, electric compost alternative.  It is a fairly substantial machine that heats and pulverizes food waste in 4-8 hours, turning it into a sterile and crumbly fertilizer (they call it “foodilizer”).  It turns this:

Indoor Composting

into this (that’s the exact same bucket, before and after):


What Does a FoodCycler Do?

The FoodCycler doesn’t technically compost food waste, because the end result is not the bacteria rich “black gold” gardeners love.  Instead, the FoodCycler heats and dries food waste before grinding it into small particles. The resulting fertilizer is sterile and dry, but once it’s mixed in with soil it releases nutrients.  At the very least, it substantially reduces the volume of food waste.  Even if this fertilizer is simply thrown away, it isn’t creating the methane (a greenhouse gas) that unprocessed food waste generates.  But if you don’t need it, a better option would be to give it away to a gardener or plant lover who does!

How Do You Use a FoodCycler?

Using a FoodCycler is so easy: just collect waste in the included bucket (which has a lid to contain smell completely).  When it’s full to the line, set it inside the machine (lining up the arrows).  Then set aside the bucket’s lid and place the locking lid onto the machine.  Press the button and that’s it.  It literally could not be any easier to use!  The machine goes through the cycles by itself.  It beeps politely, to let you know it’s finished.

Is a FoodCycler worth it?

What Do You Do With FoodCycler “Fertilizer”?

You can add the fertilizer to soil (which includes lawns, plants, and gardens)!  Even though it’s a sterile substance, devoid of bacteria, eventually the soil’s bacteria will mix with the FoodCycler by-product and microbes will rebuild.  Of course, the “fertilizer” created depends heavily on what you put in it so the “healthier” you eat, the healthier the by-product will be.  The FoodCycler comes with content ratio guidelines to help guide you.

What Does a FoodCycler Do?

How Much Fertizilier Should You Add to Soil & When?

Allow the FoodCycler by-product to “cure” for at least a week before adding it to soil.  Once it has cured, add 1 part “foodilizer” to 10 parts soil, ideally 4 weeks before planting.  I have not yet added the fertilizer to my soil, as it’s winter, but I will update this review when I have had a chance to use my foodilizer.  I can’t wait to see if it helps my vegetable garden!

How Do You Store the FoodCycler By-Product?

After storing it an open air canister for a week, I have been saving the by-product in a big 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid.  It can apparently be stored for up to a year in a closed container.  According to the manufacturer, the “foodilizer” has no pathogens or bacteria, so it is safe to handle and store indoors.  They claim it has no odour, but it does – luckily it’s very faint and mostly just smells like dried orange peels (I ate a lot of oranges in December, lol).

How Long Does the Vitamix FoodCycler Take?

The cycles are supposed to take 4-8 hours, but almost every cycle I did takes the full 8 hours.  The manufacturer suggests running this overnight, but I don’t think appliances like this should be run when people are sleeping because there’s always a risk of fire.  I run mine when I’m at home and awake.  The nice thing is that you can turn it off before it’s finished and start it up again later or another day, meaning that you can run a cycle over the course of more than one day if you need to.

Is the FoodCycler Loud?

No, not at all!  I find it very quiet, although every now and then I hear a faint grinding noises as it works.  I have an open concept kitchen, dining and living room, as you know and, even though it’s been located in the kitchen during my testing period, and therefore open to every living space, I really haven’t heard it work.

How Much Does it Cost to Operate the FoodCycler?

I assumed it would cost a lot to use the FoodCycler, given that it runs all day and it really heats the food waste.  But it only uses 1 kWh (approximately 0.8 kWh) per cycle – which is what a computer uses.  Hubby figured it out and, based on our electricity prices, it costs 10-25 cents per cycle.

Is a FoodCycler Worth it?

I have purchased fertilizer for my garden in the past, so if I can skip that moving forward, then I might eventually break even with this FoodCycler…?  But honestly, probably not because after the initial cost of the machine, and the ongoing cost of electricity (10-25 cents per cycle), there is also the regular cost of replacement charcoal filters (which supposedly block odours during the processing, but aren’t the best in my opinion).  But I think the bigger “gain” with the FoodCycler is diverting food waste from landfills and so, to me, yes, the FoodCycler is worth it.  But then, is it worth the cost of the electricity used…?  I’m not sure but I do know that my own municipality is desperately trying to reduce waste sent to our landfills so, for us, for here, it seems like a good trade off.

Does the FoodCycler Smell?

YES.  There is a carbon filter in the machine that will last 3-4 months and is supposed to prevent odours from seeping out, but my FoodCycler has smelled from day one!  (And yes, I did all of the troubleshooting recommended on the product website).  When stored in the provided container – which has a lid – the food waste does not smell.  But once it’s put into the FoodCycler and heated – wow, can it stink.  Occasionally it smells so bad I have to open a window.  Some days, however, it’s not bad at all and occasionally there is no smell.  Even better: if my FoodCycler is full of orange peels and tea bags, it can even smell nice!  It depends on what’s been “foodcycled” – how gross the contents are and also if they’re fresh.  One thing I noticed is that the smell is stronger if it has collected for a few days in the bucket.  So if you think you might run this every day, you might not notice as much of a smell.

Does the FoodCycler Smell?

In any case, the smell only lasts for the first part of the heating process – not the whole 8 hour cycle.

HOWEVER, I should mention that I do have a strangely strong sense of smell.  I once smelled a propane leak 8 hours before hubby noticed (he didn’t smell a thing, but it was so strong to me) – and long before the detector went off.  When driving down the highway with the doggos in the truck, I can smell skunk on the road many kilometres before they start sniffing excitedly.  It’s a gift and a curse.  Although hubby can sometimes smell the FoodCycler, he does not seem as bothered by it as I am on those really stinky days.

The other day I tried running it in the laundry room, with the window cracked and the door closed.  That was perfect for my sensitive nose, so I may start doing that until it’s above freezing and we can move it to the garage for the warmer months.  This machine must be operated somewhere it is dry and in above freezing temperatures.

What Can You Put in a FoodCycler?

You can put a lot of things in the FoodCycler: most fruit and veggie scraps, meat scraps, cheese, legumes and beans, coffee ground and tea bags, eggs and egg shells – it’s pretty versatile!  But you cannot put really hard bones, fruit pits or nuts in the FoodCycler.  Hard things, like watermelon rinds and pineapple leaves, are also a no-no.  There is a list of do’s and don’ts that come with the device.

How Often Do You Run the FoodCycler?

How often you run the FoodCycler will vary from household to household.  The bucket capacity is 2.5 liters, but you have to be careful not to overfill it, otherwise it can jam up the machine.  I have heard of a family of four who runs it daily.  When I cook a big meal, I can fill the bucket in one fell swoop so I can definitely see it being something that is used daily.

We run it only every few days – sometimes even less, only because I have my own “feathered foodcyclers” in the backyard, who love to eat my carrot tops, mushy cucumber and sour grapes.  They just LOVE when cucumber has some mush to it, they’re totally weird.  I even feed their egg shells back to them.  So I probably use it less than most, simply because of the chooks.

If you think you will use your FoodCycler daily, I recommend investing in a second bucket.  It’s a pain when it’s on hour 3 of an 8 hour cycle, and I’m ready with more food scraps.  A second bucket would be awesome!

FoodCycler FC-50 Review (Not Sponsored)

Why Use a FoodCycler?  Why Not Just Compost?

Wildlife Problems…

I love the FoodCycler because we have bear – and other wildlife – problems and I don’t want to draw them any more than I have to.  Just the other day a bobcat was stalking the chickens.  He finally he got a nice snoot-zap, thanks to electric fence, and peaced out.  But it’s an endless parade of bears, deer, foxes, coyotes – we’ve even spotted a nursery of raccoons and the occasional skunk on the security cameras.

So I haven’t gotten into composting – even though I have vegetable gardens – because I really don’t want to draw the wildlife even more.

No Muss, No Fuss…

Plus, if I’m being totally honest, I have childhood memories of our compost heap just being icky.  It was basically a salad bar for the neighborhood skunks – who moved in under the neighbor’s garage, to live next to the best buffet in town (location, location, location).  Nobody in my family liked maintaining it, so it was just this messy heap.

Another plus is that while a traditional compost heap takes weeks/months – this takes mere hours.  And, in brutally cold climates like mine – with winters that stretch on forever – I can “compost” in the warmth of my home all year long.

Foodilize Things You Can’t Compost…

Additionally, this device can compost certain food waste that a traditional compost pile cannot so, even if you already compost, you might find this a good complement to your current composting.  From what I understand, meat, bones, and dairy don’t go into traditional compost, but meat, (small) bones, and dairy can all be processed with a FoodCycler.  So this could, for some, supplement what you’re already doing!

Who is The FoodCycler For?

While I understand this machine is not for everyone, and many prefer a traditional compost pile or more natural solution, I like that I have a neat and tidy way to deal with household food waste that won’t draw animals or require any labor for me.  Yes, it’s plastic and a machine and – inherently – that’s not a sustainable product, but it’s a better alternative for myself and many others, I’m sure.

Food Cycle Science partnered with Breville, Vitamix, and Sage, who are now selling the FoodCycler.  I’m only familiar with the brands Breville and Vitamix, but I think both brands are high quality, so I hope this device has a nice long life, helping me recycle food waste for years to come.

It is definitely expensive, with an ongoing cost of use, so I understand that is prohibitive to many.

But I like that this FoodCycler enables people who may not be able to (or want to) compost the old fashioned way, to reduce their food waste.  It’s estimated that the average Canadian household generates 475 pounds of food waste annually.  That is a lot of waste that could be recycled into something good.  And with this device, it’s possible to “compost” anywhere – in condos, tiny apartments, and even out here in bear country.

Why Not Just Use City “Green Bins”?

If you already have an option for having the city compost your food waste, that’s awesome!  Not everyone lives where there is green bin collection – I certainly don’t.  There’s an area for “compost” at our landfill, but I realized that it’s really just an accessible heap for the bears to pick through more easily.

And for some, waiting a week for organic waste collection can be gross – especially in summer months or hot climates.  The nice perk is that you can deal with food waste quickly – even immediately – with this machine.  But if you already have a better option, this might not be for you.

Overall Impression of the FoodCycler?

Overall, I love the concept.  It’s neat, it’s tidy – I hope it helps my garden flourish, because I think my soil is a little underwhelming on its own.  It has really reduced our food waste and is a nice complement to my steps toward sustainability, like growing my own food, getting my own chickens, and thrifting my heart out.

The only cons are that I hate the way it looks – I wish I had a space I could hide it.  Or that it came in white (like this nearly identical but much cuter one) or something less…industrial looking.  And I wish that it didn’t smell during the heating part of the cycle.

But otherwise, I am very happy with my FoodCycler though!  It works very well – and it works very quietly.  Ultimately though, I’m not out to convince anyone to buy this.  It was something I toyed around with getting and now that I finally have one, I’m so thrilled.

NOT PAID FoodCycler Review

Let me know if you have any questions – I’d be happy to answer them!

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

Unpaid FoodCycler Review



  1. Annet
    February 23, 2022 / 2:42 pm

    Great review. I can add to it because I bought it off your recommendation. We LOVE it. I live in a sub-tropical part Australia so always hot and we don’t have air conditioning. We don’t have green waste recycling bin. Our garbage used to smell after a few days and always fruit flies. Now our kitchen garbage can is mostly random plastic wrappers and so it can last almost two weeks! For our family of 3, we run the machine most days I usually set it when I leave for work. We have solar so during the day it costs no power if it’s sunny. I don’t notice the smell but I’m not usually home if it’s going. We also don’t run it overnight. For small families that can’t compost I highly recommend it!

    • February 23, 2022 / 4:28 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience here! It’s so helpful to hear of another perspective from a very different climate. I can only imagine that in your kinda heat, storing food waste was not fun! I’m so happy this helped with the smell and flies. P.S. Solar power is the dream, that’s so cool you have it!

  2. Kate
    February 23, 2022 / 9:30 pm

    Thanks for posting your review! I’ve been thinking about getting one for my small nyc apt but have been skeptical about the real life user experience. Still may not have sufficient kitchen space, but will continue to keep it in mind!

    • February 24, 2022 / 11:32 pm

      It’s definitely a bit…large, lol. But, it is very light, which I did not mention in my review. Without the bucket inside, it’s easy to move around and store in a closet or cabinet, if that helps at all.

  3. kristine
    February 26, 2022 / 10:38 pm

    I hated mine and sold it. If you put anything with anything except veggies gunk gets stuck under the turning blades and takes days of soaking and chiseling to get out. I never used it for meat or bones and it would still get stick. ugh.

    • February 27, 2022 / 5:13 pm

      That sounds horrible! Did you ever contact the manufacturer to see if maybe it was defective? I wonder if maybe yours wasn’t heating properly and that’s why it was still gunky when it got to the grinding stage? I haven’t had an issues with anything getting stuck – even when it’s a soppy messy (I’ve put half a dozen oozing eggs and made numerous soupy messy and it always ground just fine). Thanks for sharing your experience with it, although I’m bummed for you that it didn’t work out!

  4. Bonny
    May 16, 2023 / 1:17 pm

    Have YOU heard of the other electronic composter Lomi? I am trying to figure out which one to get. The Lomi has several run options while the Vitamix has 1.

    • May 16, 2023 / 1:47 pm

      I have heard of it, and I really liked that it’s white and I’d say way more stylish than this one (important for it to live on a counter top), but I have not had a chance to test it myself, so I can’t speak to the differences or pros/cons. I had the chance to buy this steeply discounted and that was the deciding factor for me, as they’re both pretty expensive. The one thing I wouldn’t like about Lomi is the 16-20 hour run time for one of the cycles (fruits and veg I think), only because I don’t like to have appliances running when I’m not home/not awake. I never run a dryer, dishwasher, etc when I’m asleep but that’s a personal fire fear of mine. As long as you have the option to turn it off mid-cycle if you need to, then that shouldn’t be an issue anyway. If I were you, I’d compare the cost to run them both (because I know the Vitamix needs replacement filters, etc – not sure about Lomi). But I’d also say to just get what works best for your household and how you plan to use it.

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