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Shrink Your Cookprint

December 22, 2008 by · Comments Off on Shrink Your Cookprint 

New Year Resolutions with Green Solutions:
Six Ways to Shrink Your Cookprint

by Kate Heyhoe

 

Chill out. Hard times can lead to stress, but they can also illuminate the best in us, like compassion and empathy. People will understand if you can’t afford that over the top birthday or Christmas present. This year, my resolutions come with a proactive tint of green compassion.

1. Share Your Harvest: Free Up Your Fruits and Fields

squash

Got fruit or nut trees in your yard? Or a bountiful garden or field of crops? When the time is ripe for the pickin’, you probably have way more fruit, veggies or nuts than you can use.

Solutions: Don’t let the harvest rot: find a way to match it with people (or animals) who need it. Invite families or schools to harvest by hand. Let the boy and girl scouts harvest the food and take it to the local food bank (many food banks now accept fresh food). Invite the 4H Club to harvest suitable fruits and other foods for rescued livestock, including horses. In downtimes and when global warming impacts grain prices, many farmers can’t afford feed for their animals. In my local area, after the row crops are harvested mechanically, there’s still lots of food in and on the ground; some farmers open their gates to people in need, to let them harvest by hand what would otherwise be plowed under. With imagination and a few phone calls, you can probably find plenty of ways to put your bountiful excess to use.

2. Opt for Re-Useable Over Recyclable

Ironically, goods manufactured from recycled materials can actually cost a few cents more to make than ones made from virgin raw materials. And with the economic crisis, the demand for all goods is down, including recycled ones. So these days, even if you recycle, your best intentions may be piling up in landfills. We’ve simply got more recycled materials than demand for them.

Solutions: Instead of using plastic wrap, store leftovers in glass containers with lids (Pyrex and other brands make ones, and they glassware can be heated in ovens and microwaves, too.) In the bulk aisle, bring your own bags, jars and bottles. Instead of disposable plates, cups, and forks made from recyclable materials, use the real thing: you can pick up cheap, sturdy plates and other eating-ware at thrift shops. Reuse, reuse, reuse.

3. Cook Fresh, from Scratch: Share Cooking Skills

Fast food, prepared meals and frozen foods save time, but they’re not the greenest choices. Stop adding to packaging waste, and greenhouse gases from frozen foods and their transport, by cooking at home, preferably with fresh, local, and organic ingredients. Knowing how to cook should be a life skill as important as driving or working the Web. (By the time you’re old enough to drive a car, you should at least be able to feed yourself, and not by cruising the drive-thru lane.)

Solutions: If you’re a skilled cook, share your knowledge and teach your kids or cooking novices of any age the basics. Encourage them to adopt fresh food habits, good for their health and the planet’s. If you don’t know how to cook, dive in; you’ve got resources everywhere, from cookbooks to TV and websites. Ask a friend to show you how to make their favorite home cooked dish. The bonus: A tasty meal and a good time.

4. Commit to Cooking with Less Fuel

My book Cooking Green shows hot to conserve fuel in the kitchen, and still cook your favorite meals. It’s a whole new approach to the basics. The biggest step is to scale back oven use. Ovens waste up to 94 percent of the fuel they burn.

Solutions: Instead of oven braising, you can save fuel by cooking in a heavy pot on the stovetop. Or in a Crock-Pot. Or in a pressure cooker. And stretch the fuel by cooking in larger batches, freezing portions, and enjoying them another day.

5. Try a New Fresh, Local Food

Crop failure happens. With climate change comes drought, extreme heat and cold, and crop damage. So familiar fresh food options may be limited. Or not.

Solutions: Get acquainted with what’s plentiful and sustainable. If you’ve never eaten turnips before, and they’re local and plentiful, buy them and test them in a simple recipe. Try unfamiliar fish that’s sustainable, too, and avoid species that aren’t. Open wide to open doors.

Cooking Green

6. Drive Less: Stay Committed

Whoopee! Gas has dropped to below $2 per gallon. But don’t turn that ignition over just yet. With gas prices falling, you may be tempted to drive more miles. Don’t do it! The environmental costs of fossil fuels don’t change, even if the price at the pump does.

Solutions: We all found ways to conserve fuel when it was $4 a gallon, now let’s stick to that plan, until better options come along. (Chances are these low prices won’t last long, either.)

Find more ways to shrink your cookprint in Kate Heyhoe’s book:

Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen—the New Green Basics Way (Hundreds of tips and over 50 energy- and time-saving recipes to shrink your “cookprint”)

Green Monthly Planner

December 22, 2008 by · Comments Off on Green Monthly Planner 

“Be the Change”:

A Green Monthly Planner for 2009

by Kate Heyhoe

 

Adopt one new green habit once a month, and keep it going all year long.

calendar

“You must be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Ghandi. Even if the journey starts with baby steps, walk forward. Both Obama and McCain ran on platforms of “change.” If change is what you really want, take ownership: start making changes at home and in your own life.

Sound tough? Rethink your strategy, reduce it to something manageable. “Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win” is an oft-quoted bit of wisdom from author and educator, Jonathan Kozol.

Living green isn’t something occasional. It’s something to do every day. Try adapting month by month, like this:

January: Eat less meat. If you’re not a vegetarian, switch to meatless meals several times a week. If you’re already a vegetarian, invite your carnivorous friends to meat-free meals, and let them help make them.

February: Improve water heater efficiency. Insulate the pipes from heater to tap. Adjust the water heater thermometer to a low or medium setting (the high setting is usually overkill).

March: Plant seeds or trees. Preferably with edible benefits, like produce, nuts and fruits. Tend to them organically.

April: Capture water. Keep a jug by the tap, to water your garden. (Think of all the water you waste just waiting for hot water to reach the tap.)

May: Switch to low-impact brands. These are ones with less packaging or less water. If you drink Gatorade, for instance, buy the powdered version. Bottled versions require more fuel to transport. Ditto for laundry detergent: powder beats liquids in the good green race.

June: Skip the electric rush-hour. Run dishwashers and laundry machines late at night, or at times of off-peak consumption (avoid 5:00 to 8:00 PM.)

July: Dispense with disposables. Pack re-usable plates, cutlery and cups for picnics and barbecues.

August: Run ceiling fans. They use less electricity than air conditioners, and generate fewer greenhouse gases.

September: Hold an appliance swap. Or organize a rummage sale for charity. Let someone else make use of what you no longer want or need. Every appliance you reuse saves another unwanted appliance from entering this world.

tree

October: Clean with vinegar. Instead of dangerous chemicals, use white vinegar. Never use anti-bacterial products, which kill the good bacteria with the bad.

November: Redistribute the freebies. Grocery specials can include 2-for-1 or buy-this/get-this-free deals, especially around the holidays. Even if you don’t want the freebie, accept it and donate it to a food bank.

December: Do good. Buy holiday gifts from charities, or choose a service or donation as your gift to others. One gift idea: Enrollment in a CSA, Community Sponsored Agriculture, program where recipients get a box of fresh, locally grown produce every month or week.

Find more ways to go green gradually in Kate Heyhoe’s book:

Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen—the New Green Basics Way (Hundreds of tips and over 50 energy- and time-saving recipes to shrink your “cookprint”)

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