isn’t it always exciting to learn about an idea which you never spent much time thinking about but which flicks that lightbulb switch in your head and shifts your paradigm a little bit?
that’s how i felt when i read this article in the washington post today, in honor of earth day. kate heyhoe, in her new book “cooking green,” has asked that as we all reassess our carbon footprint today, we also take a look at how our “cookprint” is measuring up. it is easy to get so caught up in eating local, green food, that we forget about the energy we are using to actually prepare our meals.
heyhoe introduces the term ecovore (which i love!), explaining that while locovores buy and eat only local food (within a 100 mile radius), this is not practical for most people, and surprisingly, is not always the most sustainable food. ecovores, on the other hand, eat foods that are in harmony with the environment, both locally and globally, taking into account their current degree of harmony, and how that might change in the future. she says, “our food choices are, at any given time or in any given place, in constant flux, because of changes in ecosystems, economics, and technology.” i love this point. we must recognize the stratifications that are a result of constantly changing sociological, ecological, and economic conditions all over the world and factor them into our decisions about what we eat and how we eat it. one food that is sustainable this season, may not be next season, and we’ll need to choose something else.
heyhoe also notes that being “vegetarian” or “vegan” is self-limiting in that it doesn’t account for the fluidity of global conditions and is not enough to sustain a small “cookprint.”
most of her tips regard cooking methods and appliances in the home, illustrating how we can make smarter choices (which is what being green is all about). a few practical and simple ones are:
-use your toaster oven! heyhoe explains that a standard oven wastes 9% of its fuel through excess heat that doesn’t go into cooking your food. toaster ovens these days have the capacity to cook anything from simple toast to pizzas to roast chicken! i use mine constantly.
-use an electric kettle, but instead of using it to make tea, you can pour it into a glass baking pan and make lasagna with your boiling water, first tenderizing the noodles and then using it to blanch the vegetables as well. you can save washing extra pots and pans, and pour the water out to water your plants.
-nix the garbage disposal. it wastes energy and is antithetical to the ecovore principles because it encourages us to waste!
-fill up empty gaps in the fridge and freezer and it actually will use less fuel! of course, instead of wasting food, try to fill them with containers of water. how easy is that?
-bake multiple dishes at one time when you are using the oven in order to reduce fuel output.
-when boiling water, multitask and pour some of the water out of the pot to use on other items you are adding to your meal. it takes a lot of energy to boil just one pot of water. and you know how none of us ever add our pasta to boiling water until it is bubbling so much it is practically spitting at us? well, it just isn’t necessary. a gentle boil is the same temperature as a raucous one, so turn down the heat until it’s just boiling enough.
-freeze your leftovers and reuse them for other meals, and eat more raw foods! heyhoe makes a great point when she talks about eating lower on the food chain. it is shocking to realize how many gallons of water go into creating a single serving of beef (2600!) and chicken (408!)…in comparison, a serving of almonds takes 12 gallons, which is still a lot.
this valuable information is definitely encouraging me to think before i buy food, prepare food, or even order in a restaurant. i hope it does the same for you!
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