Kate Heyhoe answers questions about her new book…
What do you mean by “shrink your cookprint”?
Your “cookprint” measures the entire environmental impact you make on the planet when you cook or eat—whether you cook the meal or someone else prepares it for you. In other words, your “cookprint” is the entire chain of resources used to prepare meals, and the waste produced in the process. So essentially, Cooking Green is a lifestyle manual for shrinking your “cookprint.”
The cookprint starts with food, in your garden or at the farm; it travels to your kitchen (or a restaurant kitchen) and takes residence in the fridge, freezer or pantry. The cookprint also includes the food’s packaging, transportation and refrigeration demands along the way. Then, the cookprint grows larger every time heat or fuel is added, from a cooktop, oven, or small appliance. Discarded resources, whether they’re organic produce trimmings, plastic packaging, or water down the drain, further color the cookprint. As do the implements you cook with and the way you store leftovers. Understanding your cookprint helps put the cook squarely in charge of just how big, or how green, that cookprint will be—in ways that include yet extend beyond buying organic or local, or eating meat or not.
Is this book just for cooks?
Cooking Green is for any one who eats. President Obama has committed to a green economy, and on every level, being “green” has established itself as a national priority. Adopting greener lifestyles doesn’t have to be tough, and this book focuses on ways to be green without feeling deprived. Chapters highlight which types of foods are lower-impact, and tips address water heaters, garbage disposals, barbecuing, shopping, restaurants and each link in the food chain, so it’s of value to every one who eats, even if you don’t cook.
And if you do cook, you’ll discover that the kitchen is ripe with opportunities for going greener. It’s the place where people can make real choices, and take direct control of their impact—without letting the family feel deprived, hungry, or stressed. In fact, everyone will feel better just knowing they’re helping the planet. With the book’s step-by-step model recipes, they can do it one bite at a time.
What inspired you to write this book?
Buying organic is a great green practice, and as a cook, I knew we could do more to combat climate change. Lots more. The result: A treasury of eating, cooking and shopping habits that are as simple as changing light bulbs, and integrate just as easily into daily life. Collectively, they’re a whole new approach to cooking the basics. They include fuel and water conservation, and the strategies go from farm, to food, to fuel, to fork. They push the concept of “green cooking” into how we cook, including cooking methods and cookware, appliances, and water usage.
What makes this book different from the rest?
Many green living books require such a major commitment to lifestyle change, I think they push mainstreamers away. They provide great advice on green construction and buying composting worms, but often they don’t address common day-to-day tasks, like cooking and eating.
My book connects the gap between buying greener foods and greener ways to cook them. What really sets this book apart from other culinary or green living books is that my message includes, but goes far beyond, organics, composting, and recycling—because it also scrutinizes the physical ways we cook. My book asks (and answers) such questions as:
- Can the way I cook my favorite meatloaf truly make a green difference?
- How can I be more fuel-efficient when it comes to baking, broiling, or doing dishes?
- Why is grilling with hardwood less polluting than using charcoal briquettes?
- Is it really so easy to be greener when I shop, cook, and clean? (Yes, it really is.)
So my book is about every aspect of energy-efficiency—shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning up. In ways not instantly thought of as “green.”
- …Like certain benefits of small appliances (including rice cookers and electic tea kettles, not just toaster ovens or slow cookers)
- …It’s about foregoing the bigger-is-better mentality (do you really need a double-wall oven in your next house? A toaster oven is a better second choice)
- …And making better use of the tools you already now (did you know convection ovens produce 30% less greenhouse gases than conventional ovens? Maybe it’s time to figure out how that convection setting works.)
- …It’s carrying an ice chest with freezer packs in the car so you can do a full day of errands at once, without the food going bad, thus saving on mileage, gasoline, and time.
- …Or neat tricks to keep lettuce and other perishables fresh an extra three days, so you can eat better and shop less frequently.
And it’s realistic: Baking and roasting in winter naturally make more sense, but sometimes a cook just needs to use her oven, no matter what time of year. So this book tackles summer baking with green options that avoid ratcheting up the AC. Eating lower on the food chain is also important, and the book recommends consuming less meat, but it also suggests greener meaty options, like stretching out portions of grass-fed beef, for die-hard committed carnivores.
What’s an “ecovore”?
Our planet’s food resources can shift in abundance amazingly quickly. A fish species that thrived last winter may be in short supply this year, or a plentiful crop (like corn) can inadvertently increase global hunger when it becomes a biofuel. Ongoing drought can limit what’s available and increase the prices we pay. I believe it’s important to be mindful of our food supply even as it changes. Food is impacted by climate, and also by our own actions, which can have both good and unintended consequences. An ecovore watches, reads, and pays attention to global food conditions, and makes choices based on what’s happening now. It’s conscious eating with a “to-the-moment” awareness.
You say this book speaks to short attention spans. What do you mean?
The opening chapters detail the concept of “New Green Basics” and preview the strategies. But overall, chapter-by-chapter reading of this book is optional—it’s meant to be absorbed in snippets, sidebars, and quick hits, ideal for new-media-minds. Flip through it whenever you have time, and you’ll find something handy to absorb. For instance, there are sidebars and tactics presented in lists, tips for water conservation, and a “Green Meter” introduces each recipe with bullet points on the basic green strategies being used, when the dish is most seasonal to make the most of local ingredients, estimated prep and cooking times, and special conveniences for the cook.
What exactly are the “New Green Basics”?
They’re the basic rules of everyday cooking, but updated with the planet in mind. How you cook is as important as what you cook. Without abandoning your favorite recipes, you can bake, roast, broil, grill, and fry in vastly greener ways, saving fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gases, and shrinking your carbon footprint. Cooking Green (the book) shows you how, and you’ll find more recipes and strategies here at NewGreenBasics.com.
For other interviews with Kate Heyhoe about Cooking Green, check out Celebrity Chef Chat at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online and, in print, It’s Easy Being Green in the April issue of Austin Monthly (Austin, TX).
Buy Cooking Green
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen
the New Green Basics Way
“I love Cooking Green! Kate Heyhoe’s thoughts are right on target and offer many ways for all of us to pay attention to conservation and be conscientious with food, cooking, and waste management.”
—Jesse Ziff Cool, founder of CoolEatz restaurants and catering, author of Simply Organic, www.cooleatz.com
“Brimming with fresh ideas and down-to-earth recipes, Kate’s new book covers everything from eco-food shopping to haybox cooking. You’ll never look at boiled water the same way again.”
—David Joachim, coauthor of The Science of Good Food and Mastering the Grill, www.davejoachim.com
“Cooking Green is the next logical step for chefs and cooks who think local, organic, and sustainable. Take the ‘cookprint’ test and become an ‘ecovore’—the future of cooking may just depend on it.”
—Ann Cooper, Director of Nutrition Services, Berkeley Unified School District, author of Lunch Lessons, www.lunchlessons.org
“I founded a children’s cooking school 20 years ago and am thrilled to incorporate the new term ‘cookprint’ into all of our classes thanks to Kate’s vision and knowledge. With this clever and resourceful cookbook we can teach thousands of kids (and their parents) new ways to keep their bodies, minds, and their world a safe and healthy place to learn and live!”
—Barbara Beery, children’s cooking expert and best-selling cookbook author, www.batterupkids.com
“Cooking Green breaks new ground, deserving a place in every environmentalist’s library. In simple language full of do’s and don’ts for mindful cooking and eating, author Kate Heyhoe gives you all the information you need to shrink your cookprint, along with more than 50 recipes to get started. Not only does it thoroughly and thoughtfully present the new green basics of cooking, it provides the reasoning behind the recommendations, so as the climate changes, you can too, and so can your personal habits.”
—Linda Mason Hunter, author and pioneer in America’s green movement, www.hunterink.com
“Let’s save the planet one bite at a time! With Cooking Green, Kate Heyhoe gives us eaters the tools we need to preserve our natural resources while improving our dinner.”
—Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of The Real Food Revival, www.therealfoodrevival.com
“Best of all, it’s so well-written and informative that I can say confidently that it’s one of the few environmental book I’ve ever read that’s actually fun to read. Cooking Green’s key gift to readers, however, is its surplus of creative and counterintuitive thinking—and its absolute lack of junk science. Cooking Green is the kind of book you’ll want sitting on your shelf as a reliable resource for decades of intelligent kitchen decision-making, and it’s selling at a very reasonable $9.99 at Amazon. Use it to shrink your own carbon cookprint! —Daniel Koontz, Casual Kitchen, July 22, 2009.
“…when it comes to the green kitchen Kate Heyhoe is really the Green Goddess. A dynamic combination of Michael Pollan, Alton Brown, and Wonder Woman all rolled into one. After finishing this book you will definitely be convinced that you can help save the planet while preparing dinner every night.” —Heather Jones, ProjectFoodie.Com, July 9, 2009.
Buy Cooking Green
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen
the New Green Basics Way
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
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.
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”)
Here is a selection of vegetarian cookbooks with sample recipes that have appeared recently on the Global Gourmet website.
- V Cuisine: The Art of New Vegan Cooking
- Vegetarian Times Fast and Easy
- Great Reasons To Go Vegetarian
- Vegetarian Classics Tips
- Tips For Busy Vegetarian Cooks
- Vegetarianism and the Original Mediteranean Diet
Emission-free Cooking with a Boost
Solar ovens are obviously not standard kitchen appliances, yet more people are turning to them for emission-free, guilt-free cooking.
You can use them for everything from cooking rice to roasting chickens to baking desserts, and not just in Death Valley weather. Even when the mercury stays in the pleasant zone, solar ovens function fuel-free, simply by reflecting light into a dark box area and retaining the heat with a clear lid. (Think of how hot your car gets in a parking lot.
The Tulsi oven is a unique breed of solar oven and a favorite of tech-minded cooks. It’s a portable hybrid contraption which comes with an electric booster to kick-start the heat or keep things cooking on cloudy days. Even with the electrical boost, it’s still more efficient than conventional ovens. And it comes as a clam-shell type of suitcase, ready to pack up and go wherever the dinner party may be. There’s a small learning curve with solar ovens, but essentially anything that works in a crockpot works in a solar oven.
Buy a Tulsi Hybrid Solar Oven
It’s not that Europeans haven’t told us about thermal cooking. After all, they’ve been using this method of energy efficient cooking for centuries, in the form of homemade hay box cookers (in which hot pots were started on a stove, then tucked into straw-lined boxes, and left to cook using only retained ambient heat). Now, with global warming and fuel costs out of control, it’s an idea worth revisiting. And with Kuhn Rikon’s colorful new Hotpan Cook & Serve Sets, embracing the concept just got easier.
Here’s the hip, modern Kuhn Rikon Hotpan version of hay box cookery: Cook food on the stove in a high-end, stainless steel pan with insulated, convex lid (the lid’s shape helps baste the food). Then, before the food is done, remove the pan from the stove, place it in a brightly colored insulated shell to create a double wall of insulation, and let it passively cook, without added fuel, until done. With such gentle cooking, the food remains hot for up to two hours and will never burn or dry out. Plus, actual cooking time on the stove is scaled back.
In fact, Hotpan thermal cooking uses 70% less cooking energy than traditional stovetop methods. For example, simmer brown rice on the stovetop for 10 minutes, then transfer the pot to the thermal shell for 30 minutes. Simmer polenta for 1 minute, then let it passively cook for 20 minutes.
The Hotpan Cook & Serve Sets come in various sizes, from 1- to 4-quart, and in colors pretty enough to serve at table. (The 3-liter is probably the most versatile, if you pick only one size.) The outer shell isn’t a one-trick pony either: when not hosting the Hotpan, it works as a salad bowl or serving bowl, and it keeps breads warm or ice cream cold. You can also buy the shells separately (in orange, black, red, blue, and white), and the sizes nest inside each other for compact storage.
Kuhn Rikon, the same Swiss company behind the Hotpan Cook & Serve Sets, is a leader in energy efficient pressure cookers. Two of their most versatile, quick-cooking products are the Duromatic Pressure Fry Pan and the Pressure Braiser.
I prefer the braiser, because it’s essentially the same pan as the skillet but instead of a long handle, the braiser has two short handles making it more compact for storage. Both are extremely fuel efficient and can replace oven cooking in many instances. At 2-1/2 quarts, they’re the ideal size for smaller recipes and side dishes, and especially handy for couples, small families, and empty nesters. You can use them as a regular skillet, or cook under pressure. The waffle-texture base lets you brown in little or no fat. After browning, you can finish thick chops, small roasts, and chunky chicken pieces by locking on the lid and cooking under pressure.
Another bonus: Pressure cooked vegetables retain more nutrients than cooking by other methods. Weeknight rescue dishes are especially easy. I often make risotto in minutes, without all that pesky stirring at the stovetop; or brown a pork tenderloin, then pressure-braise until perfectly pale pink in the center. If you’re considering replacing a worn out skillet, the Kuhn Rikon Pressure Braiser or Fry Pan make more sense. They’re more versatile, save fuel, and though they come with a ten year warranty, I have a feeling these babies will probably last a lifetime. (By the way, this is not the same thing as a pressurized fryer, the kind used in fried chicken restaurants.)
Energy-Efficiency in a Box
Though pro kitchens (and TV shows) have used it for some time, induction cooking is just now entering the high-end consumer kitchen, and Viking is, not surprisingly, a brand leading the way.
I’m not ready to jump into a whole cooktop powered by induction (can’t afford it, and as a foodwriter, I need to test recipes on all types of fuel using all types of cookware). But from an energy-efficiency perspective, I can’t pass up Viking’s alternative: the portable induction cooker.
Basically, induction cooking works by sending a magnetic field (generated by the cooker) through ferrous metal (as in cookware made of cast iron, steel, or other combination that is magnetically reactive). The reaction creates heat, and it’s this heat that cooks the food. The heat is created from within the pan’s own material; think friction and fast-moving, excited molecules (like the heat generated between your hands when you rub your palms together).
The result: a near instant transfer of energy, with efficient absorption of over 90 percent of this energy (compared to around 50 percent efficiency with gas). Plus, the cooker’s surface stays cool, very little heat is released into the kitchen, and the food can actually cook quicker. Since the cooker surface stays cool, absorbing heat only from the cooking vessel, it’s easy to clean (no cooked on muck). Plus, with this nifty portable unit, I can cook anywhere there’s a plug. Like out on our wide Texas deck, in fresh air, with grazing deer and wild turkeys watching.
The first time I boiled pasta (using a Fissler Intensa pot) or fried steaks (in a Lodge cast-iron chef’s pan) on the induction element, I noticed the differences from conventional electric or gas cooking right off the bat. The water boiled sooner, and the fry pan reached perfect searing heat in a flash. Plus, I had instant control; when I turned the dial from high to low, the unit powered down to the lower setting immediately (essentially adjusting the strength of the magnetic field). No waiting for a hot gas or electric element to slug down in speed. And you can maintain constant simmering and very low temperatures (good for chocolate) better with induction.
When it comes to getting the cook up to speed, induction cooking doesn’t demand anything in the way of a learning curve. At least not like microwave ovens or the dual-fuel ovens that combine radiant heat with microwave cooking. If you can boil water on a gas or electric range, you can cook with induction. But be aware that not all cookware is induction-compatible.
Basic rule: If a magnet sticks to the cookware, it will work with induction. This eliminates glass, copper, and purely aluminum pans. (By the way, Viking describes their own line of cookware, which I have not yet tried, as a 7-ply construction of 18/10 stainless steel and aluminum that extends throughout the vessel, including the sides; suitable for all heat sources and especially efficient with induction.)
I’ll be exploring faster, better ways to cook using induction as I research my upcoming book, New Green Basics, and will post progress here as time goes on. Viking’s portable induction cooker runs around $500, but I expect all induction units will come down in price as they become more popular with the luxury set. But for those who can’t wait, and want to trade up in energy efficiency now, this handy unit brings both fun and fuel-savings to the home kitchen, in a compact package you can carry in one arm.
The Viking Portable Induction unit (1800 watts) runs on a standard 120 volt power outlet, and comes in a sleek stainless steel finish with glass-ceramic surface. Buy it at:
You can, but you don’t have to, go vegan or grow your own vegetables, just to go green in the kitchen. This site is more about how you cook than what you eat. Not that organics and local foods aren’t important. They’re hugely important. But don’t we already get that message?
There are so many other ways not being addressed by media or publishers to reduce greenhouse gases and shrink your eco-footprint. The real news, the untold story, lies in the fuels you use, the method (steaming, boiling, baking, for instance), the cookware, and the clean-up. Let’s apply a concept of “bright green cooking,” very specific actions and totally practical plans that have more impact than “light green” steps alone, but are just as easy to do.
As a bonus, stretching energy consumption directly relates to saving time, too. Less time in the kitchen means fewer lights on, less cooking fuel used, and more personal time for you to do other things.