Sunday, April 22, 2012

Being Nice to the Earth in our Kitchens

One of the best places we can make changes in our home that benefit the environment, is in the kitchen.  I don't just mean in the ways everybody immediately thinks of either, like switching out paper towels for dish rags, a recycle bin, or a compost pile.  I'm talking about what you actually use and make in your kitchen and how those choices affect the earth.

You are probablywondering if I am going to go on a spiel about the wonders of Organic farming, and how the idea of "slow" farming and natural fertilization, fields lying fallow, and lack of chemical pesticides is so much better, yadda, yadda, yadda. I've read it, and it does sound wonderful.  I wish I could go completely organic.  But I can't.  It is just way too expensive!  So here are a few quick ideas and recipes to help the average joe cook "green".

So you can't afford to go organic.  That's ok. There is, in my opinion, a far better way to improve the eco-friendliness of your food choices.  As much as possible.  Abide by the slogan "Eat Locally.  Eat Seasonally".  Not only is this better for the earth(your food traveled much less to get to you) it is also good for your local economy and your food is fresher.  There also seems to be a link between what our bodies need at certain times of the year and what the earth provides.  Cold and flu season also seems to be when oranges are in season.  Your lighter fruits and vegetables(strawberries, lettuce, asparagus) are in season in the spring, while your heavier ones(squash, potatoes) come in the fall.  Use the guide on the right to see what is in season, and then try to plan your meals accordingly.

To eat locally, try and do your produce shopping at a local farmer's market or sign up for a weekly share in a CSA.  If you live in a part of the country where produce doesn't grow readily (like where I grew up) and there is no farmer's market or roadside produce stand close by, try to find the produce in your grocery store that is farmed in the US, or as close as possible. You can also grow your own. If you live in a place that doesn't grow well, try a planter garden.  If you live in an apartment complex or some place where even that is impossible, try a small indoor herb garden, or hanging tomato/strawberry plant.

The other way you can go greener in your food preparation is designating one dinner a week as "meatless".  I try to have 2-3 meatless dinners every week, just because it is so nice on my grocery budget.  Here are some of our favorite recipes for those nights.

Cheese Fondue
Black Bean Burritos (I add diced tomatoes and taco seasoning to my rice)
Cheese Potato Soup
Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce
Tomato Basil Soup(I add cheese tortellini to this recipe)

So what do you say?  Willing to make a change for a healthier you and a healthier earth?

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