40 Ways to Shrink Your Cookprint
By Kate Heyhoe
Reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, and rethink how you cook, shop, and eat. Learn all about cookprints here.
To shrink > think:
- 1. Energy-efficient kitchen zones
- 2. Water conservation and reuse
- 3. Lower hot-water usage and temperature
- 4. Energy-Star appliances
- 5. Small appliances as fuel-savers
- 6. Electric teapots over cooktop boiling
- 7. Avoiding peak power hours
- 8. Unplugging appliances
- 9. Renewable energy sources
- 10. Lower-emission grilling
- 11. Nontoxic, biodegradable cleansers
- 12. Regular over antibiotic cleansers
- 13. Reusable cloth napkins
- 14. Recycled and recyclable products
- 15. Plants over animals
- 16. Non-CAFO products
- 17. Local
- 18. Organic
- 19. Seasonal
- 20. Sustainable
- 21. Energy-efficient ingredients
- 22. Weather-sensitive cooking
- 23. Cooktop before oven
- 24. Induction burners
- 25. Passive cooking over active fuel use
- 26. Skipping the preheat when possible
- 27. Toaster ovens
- 28. Convection cooking
- 29. Microwave cooking
- 30. Simultaneous baking
- 31. Multitasking boiling water
- 32. Fuel-efficient cookware
- 33. Nontoxic cookware
- 34. Farmers markets and direct from farms
- 35. Fewer grocery trips
- 36. Shelf-stable over frozen
- 37. Minimal packaging
- 38. Bulk-buying
- 39. Aseptic and glass over cans
- 40. Extending food storage
- 41. No food waste
- 42. Green-conscious grocery stores
- 43. Low-carbon restaurants
You’ll find more details about why each action works in Cooking Green, which is full of recipes, tips and strategies.
by Kate Heyhoe
Yippee! My book Cooking Green has gone back for a second printing—which in this era of ailing publishing is a major event. Reviewers have praised the book for its solid, well-researched content presented in a very absorbable, thought-provoking fashion (not fluffy or green-lite, but not dry or taxing either). It also won the 2009 Green Book Award for cookbooks. Discover more about Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen, and how to shrink your own cookprint.
Which brings me to another book that often appeared with mine, as part of several Earth Day book reviews: Big Green Cookbook. Both this book and Cooking Green have the same goal: greener cooking by using fewer resources and reducing emissions. Both books tackle the subject matter well, as reviewers have said, and deserve a hot spot in the new green kitchen. But the authors take markedly different approaches.
In Big Green Cookbook, Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian, presents a great collection of 200 recipes, each with a nutritional profile. A 37-page introduction highlights the basics of practical green cooking. Her other green tips are solid, short and snappy, scattered throughout the book as sidebars or brief textboxes. My book, Cooking Green, presents 50 green-model recipes but devotes 160 pages to understanding the hows and whys of cooking and greener strategies, and the impact, presented chapter by chapter in a logical sequence.
Cooking Green and Big Green Cookbook are really more complementary than competitive. By this I mean each book is different from the other in a good way, and each one has much to offer without duplicating the other. Taken together, the sum of the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts.
If you’re truly interested in shrinking your cookprint and shifting into a greener lifestyle, these two books will get you quickly on your way. Big Green Cookbook lives up to its promise: it’s plump with recipes, and readers can get greener tip by tip, rather than topic by topic. Cooking Green takes a more comprehensive approach: it gives you the tools you need to understand how to cook, shop, and live greener—even beyond the kitchen—so you can make your own decisions every day, in any circumstance.
As I often say, going greener is all about making choices, and in this case (and even though I could be biased), the choice on these two books should be “yes” and “yes.”
- Big Green Cookbook:
Hundreds of Planet-Pleasing Recipes and Tips for a Luscious, Low-Carbon Lifestyle
- by Jackie Newgent
- Wiley 2009
- Paperback; 400 pages
- ISBN: 978-0-470-40449-2
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
Makes 1-1/2 pounds each of potatoes and green beans
From Kate Heyhoe’s Cooking Green
- Green Strategy: One pot and precooking save fuel and water; passive boiling saves fuel
- Prep/Cooking Times: 5 minutes prep + 5 minutes active cooking +20 minutes unattended
- Prime Season: Year-round for potatoes; green beans in summer and fall
- Conveniences: Shaves off cooking time later in other recipes; can be made in advance and keeps up to 3 days; less equipment to wash; adaptable to other vegetables
- New Green Basic: Plan ahead and cook multiple vegetables with about the same amount of water and fuel as one vegetable; use the basic passive method to replace continuous boiling.
Use this method to save fuel, water, and your own time. It’s a handy template for boiling potatoes and blanching vegetables together, even if you don’t serve them in the same dish. Eat the vegetables separately or together, as in a Nicoise potato salad. Enjoy them right after cooking with a little butter and salt; or refrigerate and serve later in a salad, gratin, casserole, soup, Spanish tortilla, quiche, or omelet. Besides green beans, you can blanch a sequence of vegetables, assembly-line fashion, like carrots, broccoli, and asparagus, for example.
You’ll need a large pot, a skimmer (like a Chinese spider or a large slotted spoon), a colander, and a bowl of chilled water (with ice or ice packs, or prechilled in the fridge) for shocking the beans. Shocking stops the cooking process and helps set the color. If the vegetables are cut in small pieces though, cold tap water works almost as well as iced water. (Capture and repurpose the cooking and chilling water, for a greener cookprint.)
Smaller potatoes cook faster and don’t get waterlogged like large, halved potatoes. Use any variety (Yukon Gold, red, russet, white). A wealth of nutrients lie just under the potato skin, so eat the peels, and put potatoes at the top of your organics list.
- 1-1/2 pounds potatoes (2–3 inches in diameter, about 7)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 to 1-1/2 pounds green beans
1. Scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Place in a large pot with the salt, and add water to cover by 2 inches. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. While the water heats, trim the stems off the green beans. Prepare a bowl of chilled or ice water.
2. When the water boils, add the green beans (they’ll float above the potatoes) and push them down to submerge. Cook 2–3 minutes, until crisply tender or until desired degree of doneness.
3. Scoop the beans into the bowl of chilled water until cool. Drain in a colander. Leave the cold water in the bowl if blanching other vegetables, and add more ice or chill packs if needed.
4. The potatoes will not be done. Cover the pot, turn off the fuel, and let the potatoes passively cook 12–15 minutes, or until a skewer penetrates to the center. Scoop the potatoes into the colander to drain. Use now, or refrigerate the beans and potatoes separately (will keep 3 days).
Buy Cooking Green
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen
the New Green Basics Way
by Kate Heyhoe
This year I’ve picked gifts with either a green sheen or a very practical profile—from stocking stuffers to big family gifts, including handy tools for Thanksgiving and holiday parties. For more ideas: The Global Gourmet Store and the New Green Shopper are filled with tasty treats, great tools and green gifts. Cookbook Profiles and I Love Desserts feature sample recipes from the year’s best books. And come back for more new picks in December, including sweet treats and dessert tools (our past holiday picks may also include products that are just as perfect today, but somehow Santa skipped).
Happy holidays, part one!
Calphalon LX Series 15-piece Knife Set
Sometimes labels help. I know I’m not the first cook to pluck the wrong knife out of the block, then fish around until I got the right one. Calphalon’s LX set was made with me in mind: the bottom of the handles identify the knife, with handy but unobtrusive etchings like 8″ Chef” or 3″ Paring. But user-friendly ID’s would be meaningless if the knives didn’t perform. I’m not saying you need to break out the band-aids for this set, but cooks who appreciate sharp knives will find these babies do the job right. Use these knives with care: they’re sharp! And according to Calphalon, they hold their edge longer than stainless because they’re made of German high-steel carbon with Molybdenum and Vanadium, forged in a single piece (blade, bolster and tang). The ergonomic handles feel good, with enough weight to aid chopping but without causing fatigue. The snazzy black block holds the full set of an 8″ chef’s knife, 5″ santoku, 3.5″ parer, 8″ bread knife, 4.5″ tomato (serrated), 6″ utility knife, and a sharpening steel, shears and 6 steak knives.
Dual Thermometer Tests Food and Oven Temp
CDN’s Dual-Sensing Probe Thermometer/Timer (DSP1) measures both the temperature of the oven and the internal temperature of the food being cooked. My book Cooking Green (March 2009) contains oven-fuel saving tips, including cooking several items at the same time, or skipping preheating. This dual-sensing device tells you if the oven’s cranking at the proper heat, especially handy whenever you cook simultaneously, or after you’ve opened the door to take one dish out, or shut the oven off early so foods cook passively. Instant read-outs of both the internal food temperature and ambient oven temperature help you adjust your oven as needed. You can also program desired settings for both the food and the oven temperature: it chimes one sound when the oven temperature is reached, and another sound when the food is done. It also features a digital timer, and an overtime alert signals when food is left in the oven too long.
Other Features: A 39-inch high-heat resistant sensor cable. The stainless steel probe is 6-3/4 inches long. Registers from 32 to 573 degrees F (0 to 300 degrees C). USDA recommended temperatures for food safety are printed on the thermometer. Can be mounted by magnet or stand. The timer counts in minutes and seconds up to 10 hours. Once the set time has been reached, the timer counts up from zero to indicate how much additional time passes. It runs on one AAA battery (included). Visit www.cdn-timeandtemp.com for where to buy, and information on How to Recalibrate Your Thermometer, Thermometer Technology and 25 Tips for Food Safety.
Designer Porcelain-Bamboo Mortar & Pestle Set
You really connect with your ingredients when you grind or crush them by hand. A mortar and pestle is the most effective tool for releasing the oils and essences of herbs and spices, and it also comes in handy for times when you need to grind medicines for people or pets. The Kuhn Rikon Mortar & Pestle set has details that make this functional, low-tech tool even better. Besides the porcelain pestle, it features two mortars: a porcelain one that nests inside an earth-friendly bamboo mortar and stand. Designed by award-winning Swiss designer, Philipp Beyeler, the set is featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s catalog, and features added functionality in clean, crisp design, including:
- A pouring spout on the coarse porcelain bowl, handy for grinding fresh herbs and spices with wet ingredients as pastes for dressings or marinating.
- A 6×6-inch bamboo base for grinding dry spices such as peppercorns, cardamom and mustard seed, or for homemade curry blends.
- A porcelain pestle with a small hole in the handle to strip leaves off herb stems, and which stores compactly inside the porcelain bowl.
Suggested retail price $50; at specialty and online retailers including Museum of Modern Art catalog (www.momastore.org) or factorydirect2you.com.
2-in-1 Serving Knife Acts as Spatula
Multitasking meets kitchen tool. Kuhn Rikon’s Serving Knife slices like a serrated knife and serves like a spatula. I like to serve at table, but two tools can be awkward and messy; either the knife or the server falls into the casserole or onto the table. Not so with this handy tool; simply slice, twist the wrist, slide it under the food and serve. It’s not as complete as a Swiss Army knife, but it’s got that same Swiss logic. For instance, it features nonstick coating and an offset handle to make slicing and serving even easier, and prevents slipping back into the pan. A protective sheath keeps the knife secure for safe storage and transport, so you can take it to potlucks or tailgate parties. In Red or Metallic Silver, in two sizes: 10-inch knife at $14 msrp, and 12-inch knife at $16 msrp. At specialty and online retailers including factorydirect2you.com.
Versatile Potato Ricer Delivers Two Textures
Never mash potatoes with a food processor: they’ll get gummy. Hand mashing’s okay, but you’ll get the fluffiest results with a potato ricer, especially the Kuhn Rikon Potato Ricer. It’s a handy low-tech tool for all sorts of vegetables and even baby food. The ergonomic design eases leverage, so with a simple squeeze of the handle, light strands of potatoes extrude through the ricer. You can rice one large or two medium sized potatoes at a time, and a handy pull-out clip lets the ricer rest on the rim of a pot or bowl. It comes with two stainless steel disks: larger holes for mashed spuds, and smaller holes for making puree. (Store the extra disk in the ricer’s built-in compartment.) Go beyond the standard mash to create potato pancakes, gnocchi, lefse and spaetzle. What else can it rice or puree? Berry sauce for desserts, tomato puree, parsnips, carrots, baby food and blanched greens. Dishwasher safe, in black or white.
Buy a Kuhn Rikon Potato Ricer
Capresso H2O Plus Water Kettle
This electric tea kettle always makes my list of functional green appliances: It boils water with less fuel than a cooktop, shuts off automatically, and you can use the hot water for more than just tea. This model boils water faster than on a stove, keeps the kitchen cooler, and it’s handy when you want to rehydrate dried mushrooms, dried tomatoes, and powdered soups; or to jumpstart a pot of water for pasta, steamed vegetables, or potatoes. The Capresso H2O sports a glass carafe, so you can see the progress without lifting the lid (and it’s fun to watch the bubbles: like an aquarium without the fish). It holds a manageable amount, letting you boil from 2 to 6 cups. It’s one of my handiest kitchen appliances, in its snazzy black and silver design, and makes a great gift for almost everyone, even non-cooks.
More New Green Basics product reviews include:
- Cuisinart Green Gourmet Cookware
- Hotpan Thermal Cookware
- Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker Skillet
- Architec Cork Cutting Boards
- Epicurean Cutting Boards
- Equal Exchange Roasted Nuts and Berries
- Caldrea Scented Cleansers
Obama vs. McCain on Oil
by Kate Heyhoe
If high food prices are cramping your wallet, then pay attention to what the candidates are saying about one key issue: oil and energy. Oil is tied to everything—and it may be the single most important issue of the election. To understand rising food costs, let’s look at the issue of oil and where the candidates stand.
First, prices for grains, meats, dairy and vegetables always fluctuate, though usually it’s because of environmental conditions, like drought or pest infestation. Today’s high food prices are artificial in the sense that they’re controllable: if you take away the inflated oil prices, the price of food would plummet. And so would the price of everything else you buy.
Oil’s impact on food costs start with bringing feed grains to farms, and then continue mile-by-mile via truck, air, ocean liner, and by your own car, to move food from farm to factory or fridge. This fuel-price impact has gone far beyond squeezing out little luxuries. It hurts basic family nutrition, meals-on-wheels, and school lunch programs. When budgets are stretched, putting food on the table often becomes more important than going to the doctor, or sending kids to college. Some schools are cutting pack on sports, books, and teachers—just to pay for school buses, heating, and cooling expenses. That’s just not right.
On the other hand, when some schools recently switched to electric-powered buses, their fuel-savings quickly paid for the new equipment, and the clean engines don’t submit kids and drivers to choking fumes. As alternative-fuel cars become more in demand, and competitive industries kick into action, everyone can win. If we vote to make it happen. Which brings us back to oil.
Foreign oil and Wall Street speculators are only part of the fuel-cost equation. If you paid more at the pump after the recent Texas-Louisiana hurricanes, you know that price fluctuations were blamed on the shut-down of domestic oil production. So whether oil comes from inside or outside the United States, as long as oil dominates all other fuels, it will always control our economy and our freedoms, nationally and individually.
We will always have hurricanes, broken pipelines, and terrorist threats as justification for punching up the price of oil at any given moment (and then leaving it there as consumers adjust).
In other words: Whether it comes from inside or outside the U.S., oil straps us to a future of dependence on an industry so awash in profits, there’s no motivation for them to ever drop prices again. Big oil can’t be controlled by government, because it’s already more powerful than politicians. Even if oil was unlimited, there’s way too much profit to be made by keeping demand high and supply low (witness the Exxon mega-profits).
Solution: Open up competition through other sources of fuel, and the oil monopoly starts to crumble. Building our nation’s strength on renewable resources makes far more sense than the rallying cry of “drill, baby, drill.”
Obama’s plan is to reduce foreign and domestic oil with other forms of energy, while McCain’s number one strategy is to increase offshore drilling at home (continuing our oil dependence). Through the development of alternative energy, Obama’s plan seriously cuts our total oil consumption by 35 percent, or 10 million barrels per day, by 2030—sufficient to offset the projected amount of OPEC-imported oil and reduce domestically produced oil at the same time.
McCain’s fallacy lies in his belief that “the sudden shocks and ever-rising prices…come with our dependence on foreign oil.” But our own Big Oil controls the market, and even if you take foreign oil out of the equation, you still have a country dependent on a single form of fuel, owned by a handful of corporations. McCain’s policy is stuck on increased drilling; it’s not a solution. It’s not even a good band-aid: it’s applied too late and it doesn’t stick. Prolonging our dependence has no good benefits anymore: oil and its emissions pollute the environment, while they simultaneously ramp up the cost of every little thing whenever there’s a hiccup in the supply system or a bump by Wall Street speculators, or a decision by oil companies to raise prices.
Obama sees offshore oil drilling as the band-aid that it is, and incorporates it only as part of a broader plan that opens the doors to overall economic solutions. More jobs, better futures, new industries, foreign independence, financial security, and stabilized economies don’t come from oil; they come from multiple new sources of renewable energy at home.
It’s true that both Obama and McCain support alternative energy technologies, but they have totally different ideas on specifics. Obama wants to tax the profits of oil companies, McCain does not. Obama sees energy as something vital, and part of the government’s leadership responsibility. McCain walks away from direct involvement.
McCain’s plan might make sense if there was no viable alternative, but that’s where his vision falls short: we already have clear solutions of benefit to consumers, industry, the economy, and the environment. So what’s keeping these solutions from becoming widespread and affordable? Big oil and the reticence of policy-makers like McCain to forge a national problem into a productive solution. He says he supports an all-of-the-above strategy (using conventional and alternative fuels), but if you’re a homeowner looking for some solar tax credits, you can’t count on McCain; he’s never voted for them. If you’re an oil company, McCain stands against taxing windfall profits, so like Exxon, you’re free to keep making as much profit as you can get away with. McCain believes such a tax would hamper domestic oil production. Which is another good argument against our dire dependence on domestic oil.
Greening Both Parties
Here’s the rub: Even if gas prices were to drop to $2 a gallon, and food prices were to drop with them, oil dependence (foreign or domestic) will never improve our lives, but new energy investment would. Alternative, renewable energies, and the competition that comes with them, open up a future of jobs, building, manufacturing—strong arms for the economy to pull itself up with and powerful legs on which to take great strides. New energies mean growth at home, not abroad. And it will take forceful policies to combat the push-back from Big Oil.
Both candidates say it’s time for change. But more importantly, it’s time for choice—McCain’s core policies sound good, but in practice his plans don’t advance the economy, while Obama’s choice is to rapidly increase the momentum of diverse energy industries and use them to galvanize the rest of the economy and the infrastructure. Obama’s forceful commitment to move away from oil and push alternative energies to the top of the agenda is the only logical direction. In the short and long run, it’s the one that will shrink food prices, carbon footprints, and economic dependence. You may disagree with the candidates on other issues, but when it comes to feeding our future, the energy plan that’s got real meat to it wins.
But don’t listen to me. Make your own choice: Whether you lean toward Obama or McCain, take a moment to read a well-researched perspective on why energy is the most critical issue of our times. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has written a number of articles and bestselling books on the issue. He says in part:
Well, I want to rename “green.” I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism…
Because a new green ideology, properly defined, has the power to mobilize liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, big business and environmentalists around an agenda that can both pull us together and propel us forward. That’s why I say: We don’t just need the first black president. We need the first green president. We don’t just need the first woman president. We need the first environmental president. We don’t just need a president who has been toughened by years as a prisoner of war but a president who is tough enough to level with the American people about the profound economic, geopolitical and climate threats posed by our addiction to oil—and to offer a real plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Before deciding on who to vote for, please read Friedman’s complete article. You need to become a member of www.nytimes.com but membership is free. Here’s the link to the article:
- The Power of Green, by Thomas Friedman
And in case you don’t finish the article, I’ll cut to the chase:
Equally important, presidential candidates need to help Americans understand that green is not about cutting back. It’s about creating a new cornucopia of abundance for the next generation by inventing a whole new industry. It’s about getting our best brains out of hedge funds and into innovations that will not only give us the clean-power industrial assets to preserve our American dream but also give us the technologies that billions of others need to realize their own dreams without destroying the planet. It’s about making America safer by breaking our addiction to a fuel that is powering regimes deeply hostile to our values.
Amen. May the best green candidate win.
More links to Obama and McCain energy policies:
- Drilling Down on McCain, Obama Energy Plans (CNET News, Sept. 3, 2008)
- CNN Election Center: Energy
- CNN Commentary: Obama’s Green Gold Rush (by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)
- McCain’s Carbon Policy Increases Profits for Biggest Polluters (The Guardian, Sept. 8, 2008)
Cuisinart has launched a new Green Gourmet cookware line of anodized clad pans with an aluminum alloy core, and get this, a ceramic-based nonstick interior that is indeed truly nonstick and safe.
The cookware contains no petroleum products, no PTFE or PFOA, the pans and their metal handles can withstand oven use up to 500 degrees F and is broiler-safe. And because these pans conduct heat so well, they perform best when not used on high heat; medium and low are sufficient (meaning built-in energy-efficiency).
The drawbacks: They’re made in China, so they’ve got a traveling cookprint similar to most cookware these days, and they can’t be used on induction burners (no ferrous material). The ceramic-based surface is tough but not infallible: it can chip, which untreated anodized aluminum won’t do, but so will enamel-cast iron (which is considerably heavier to lift). Avoid sharp or metal utensils (anything that works on a Teflon surface is fine, like silicone or nylon). If you treat the cookware kindly, it should last a long time. Kudos to Cuisinart for the next generation of nonstick cookware. Hopefully, we’ll keep seeing greener improvements from them and other brands in their cookware and in every part of the kitchen.
Currently the cookware is available at Bed, Bath and Beyond stores.
This year, cooking comes with greater awareness. Jumpstarted in recent years by Warren Buffet and the Gates Foundation, George Clooney’s plea for Darfur, issues raised by The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Al Gore’s leadership with global warming, the national mindset is increasingly aimed at connecting with bigger issues. As the year progresses, I’ll be covering the emerging trends behind what we eat and how we cook it…
- Cast iron cookware, regular and enamel coated
- Made in USA (preferably local)
- Induction cooking, to keep kitchens cool
- Re-usable shopping bags
- Stovetop cooking, all year round
- Conscious consumerism: voting with your dollar
- Savory desserts
- More meatless meals, especially with whole grains
- Dark chocolate, organic and fair trade, 70% cacao
- Certified: Organic, Fair Trade, and domestic Fair Trade
- Ethical eating, humanely raised animals
- Kinder, gentler TV chefs with world vision
- Kitchen sections at second-hand stores
- Inhumanely raised livestock and poultry
- Inhuman, self-centered TV chefs with no vision
- Milk chocolate
- Faux organics and exploited workers
- Made in China, including questionable “organics”
- Double wall ovens, which stress cooling systems
- Beefy meals (though grass-fed beats conventional)
- Plastic and paper
- Oven cooking in warm weather
- Supporting the bad guys
- Corn syrup sweets
- Teflon and nonstick-surface cookware
- Salad shooters and one-trick-pony appliances
…from Kate’s Global Kitchen