Earth Friendly Cooking
Earth Day is April 22nd, our annual reminder to do our part to help keep our shared planet beautiful and preserve its wonders for generations to come.
Though the topics of ecology and environmental awareness are vast, just about everyone can agree that helping to conserve our planet’s precious natural resources and achieve a smaller carbon footprint is a no-brainer. Each and every person can make a difference by doing just one of two things to use less fuel and fewer resources, and support the quality of life in the communities in which we live.
Following are a few eco-conscious cooking ideas from the Ecolution kitchen:
Experts say that making food ourselves, at home, preferably from scratch, helps the environment because we are using fewer prepackaged and frozen and convenience foods. So if you don’t have one already, get yourself a good, safe and eco-friendly cookware set.
Similarly, buying dry ingredients in bulk saves money and also helps you reduce your usage of heavily packaged and highly processed items.
Buying and cooking food in larger quantities is another way to reduce your carbon footprint. When you make a large pan of lasagna or super-size casserole, you can freeze the leftovers in reusable single-serving containers to use later. You can also roast a chicken or turkey and use for sandwiches and other dishes all week long. You’ll save time as well as conserve fuel by “cooking big” just once a week.
There are many advantages to buying local ingredients. You get the freshest seasonal produce, you support the farmers in your region, and you help the environment by buying fewer items that need to be shipped and freighted to your area. (We often forget that the transportation of imported items has an impact on the environment, too.)
Shop at local farmer’s markets, food co-ops and food stands which offer harvest-fresh produce from your area. Consider joining a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program—a membership or subscription will entitle you to a free box of fresh produce every week throughout the harvest seasons from a local farmer.
Most ordinary produce is grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides containing up to 22 harmful chemicals, many of them believed to be carcinogenic, and often bioengineered and genetically modified as well. Commercially farmed animals are treated with antibiotics and hormones and housed and dispatched under appalling conditions to mass-produce most of the meats we consume.
Certified organic foods are grown and processed on sustainable farms that recycle their resources and refrain from the use of chemical pesticides, bioengineered genes or chemical fertilizers. Buying organic ensures that your fruits and vegetables aren’t grown with chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and that your meats are produced on farms that raise humanely treated, grass-fed animals without hormones or antibiotics.
Conserve While You Cook
The less fuel we burn, the more we conserve, and the fewer carbon compounds are emitted overall into the atmosphere. Some conservationists turn their burners off a minute or two before the food is done and allow the remaining, dissipating heat to finish the cooking. If you want to try this method, just remember keep your pots and pans covered to retain and conserve heat—if all your cookware doesn’t have covers, get an all-purpose lid.
Here’s one easy kitchen tip that helps conserve energy: Avoid repeatedly opening and closing the oven door when something’s cooking.
A couple more earth-conscious kitchen tips: Be diligent about using up what’s in the refrigerator before it goes bad, and donate extra canned or packaged foods to shelters and organizations that help people in need. Buy fewer household cleaners – use versatile natural products like white vinegar and baking soda for kitchen cleaning instead.
Nobody’s Perfect—But Can I Do More?
Everyone has different ideas about how to preserve and protect the planet. Earth Day is an opportunity to be a little more mindful about our daily routines, and perhaps choose just one small change to make. Together, we can make a real positive impact.
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