Earth Day gives us pause every year to look around and see whether we’re serving our sole planet the best way we possibly can. (Here at WS, we’re constantly presenting “green challenges” to our colleagues.) Take a minute to focus on food today. Consider where yours is from, whether you need so much meat in your diet, and how your ingredients grew. It’s worth taking a moment to scan the pantry and fridge before your next big shop. Be intentional in how you eat and live; it will almost always make you feel better about yourself.
One of the biggest, easiest things you can do for the earth is to eat less meat. That’s it; it’s so simple. Red meat in particular requires a ton of water to produce, exacting a heavy carbon footprint. So consider vegetarian and vegan alternatives, and know where your dairy hails from, because that can take a toll on the planet, too. Here are three tasty starting points for you.
2. Love Those Leftovers
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Decomposing food produces methane, a major greenhouse gas. You can easily be part of the solution to this problem by doing something as simple as eating your leftovers. Toss leftover spaghetti into a frittata. Caramelize those onions on the edge of being bad; use up the wilting scallions. You can do it! This is where those of us who set aside three bites of food, to the mockery of others in our households, get to shine: Those three bites can be the base of a stir-fry, the topping to a bowl of noodles, or the base of the “stone soup” you throw together the next day.
Make a big batch of quinoa to eat all week. Stale bread becomes bread pudding, Panzanella or Ribollita. Just pause before you toss that ingredient. Yes, you can!
3. Buy Locally
Farmers’ markets have emerged as one of the very safest places to get your produce right now. Often held outdoors, with many of them adhering to strict social distancing measures, they can be a godsend. Meal-plan and think ahead for the week (or two) so you’re not liable to waste anything, and then go for it, knowing that by buying close to home, you’re reducing the carbon footprint of your food.
4. Buy Sustainable Ingredients
Ask: Where’s it from? How is it grown or caught? We love the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch app, which helps us quickly figure out whether that cod, salmon or tilapia was sustainably caught. But also consider pantry ingredients: Is what’s in your pantry made from minimally processed ingredients? Are your ingredients low-carbon to create? Do some research: Spelt and buckwheat don’t require pesticides to grow. Oats are good for soil conservation. Coconut sugar can be an extremely sustainably grown sweetener.
Take the extra few minutes to double-check your food, and feel that much better about supper.
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Thanks for this great idea. When I write an article on food or leisure, I just can’t stand it and invite my friends to cook such delicious things. It is inspiring.