5 Ways to Become a Green Cook
The Environmentally Aware Chef
From the avid home chef to the Easy-Mac lover, everyone can do their part to become a green cook. Why would one care? Well, besides the more altruistic reasons, such as reducing pollution, supporting local farmers and lowering your carbon footprint, eating and cooking with the environment in mind is also great for your health and can even help your pocket book. Going green in the kitchen isn't even difficult; here are 5 easy ways to go green with cooking.
With the economy tanking more and more advertisements encourage us to "shop local" and support businesses right in our own neighborhoods. The same idea holds true for farming, and not just for economic reasons. Besides providing your local farmer with a means to live you are also helping to cut back on the noxious pollution that comes from transporting produce from all corners of the world to our supermarkets. Take a look at the origin labels next time you go shopping in the produce aisle. I recently noticed that the strawberries were from Mexico, as were the squash, and the grapes were from Chile. In order to get to my state these precious commodities were flown thousands of miles, and then taken by truck to my local store. By eating locally and in season I support my local farmers and refuse to be the cause of the consumption of thousands of gallons of gasoline.
I personally live in an agricultural (orchards) area where I have personally seen the fallout from using commercial pesticides. As many orchards in the area where I live are converted to housing developments or commercial lots, builders have to deal with dirt that is contaminated with high levels of arsenic, a byproduct of conventional pesticides and fertilizers used in orchards. By eating organic you improve your health by ceasing to eat the poisons we use to kill bugs and other critters, as well as improving the very earth we walk on and the air we breath. Some of the most pesticide intensive crops include potatoes and apples. Another scary thought? Those very same apples are coated in wax to make them look shiny and pretty in the store, which also traps the pesticides in the apple's skin. Seriously, try wiping an unwashed apple against a window pane, and marvel at the disgusting wax and pesticide slime trail it leaves.
Have "Leftover Night"
One of the biggest sins of the modern day American is the amount of food we waste. I won't even start on the tons of food thrown out daily by grocery stores, let's just focus on what we can improve, our food practices at home. Many people have food leftover at the end of a meal, and they put it in storage to be eaten later. Seriously, how often does that really happen? Most likely you'll end up throwing the food out after a week or so because spolied and picky eaters don't want anything that comes in tupperware. To fix this problem and save a little money have a "leftover night" once a week. On leftover night simply heat everything up and serve it on nice plates to make it more appetizing. Truly, you'll be amazed at what a little effort at presentation does to spike some appetite for old food. My neighbor and I often combine our efforts for more variety and call it a "smorgasboard".
Start a Garden
One way to get great, organic produce is to grow it right in your own garden! I love gardening because it puts space in your yard to good, productive use, rather than just sitting as pretty, but water consuming and impractical grass. I mean, grass is great for horses...but what does it do for you? Potatoes are very easy to grow, as are zucchini, tomatoes, salad greens and herbs. Put your yard to use!
Sometimes, "leftover night" just doesn't work for a variety of reasons. When this happens you could throw out the food, which is such a waste, or you could start a compost bin. Decomposing food makes a great fertilizer for the garden you just planted (you did plant one, right?). Work the mulch into the ground before you plant, or use a small trowel to integrate the compost into the soil after planting to give your vegetable a real boost. With a compost bin you can contribute to the great "circle of life" rather than donating to the local landfill.
Go Green in the Fridge
Being a green chef isn't just for fancy pants city folk or for "treehuggers" or whatever you want to call enviro folk, it's for everybody. By making small changes in our day to day lives we can ensure a better planet for the children who inherit it after us.