The Green Kitchen
It’s not always easy being green.
I fancy myself a lifelong environmentalist. One of my chores growing up was dealing with the recycling. I belonged to an ecology club all through junior high and high school. My sisters and I would sport the orange vests for Adopt-A-Highway on promises of trips to Dairy Queen afterward. My papa sent me back to the car to grab the canvas bags long before they were 0.99 cents at every checkout counter. I knew littering was ridiculous, ugly, and mean from the time I could walk.
I used to take my status as a lifer for granted. Recycle, bundle errands together so you drive less, take shorter showers. That about covers it right?
Wrong. These things are all good and easy to incorporate into my day but there’s so much more!
Yesterday, in an attempt to get more food-sourced vitamin C, I grabbed two kiwis at the store. It wasn’t until I was eating them that I saw one was from Italy and the other was from Chili! What’s the carbon footprint on a kiwi shipped from Italy to Virginia? How long had it been since they were picked? Please correct me if I’m wrong but I believe vitamin C starts to diminish as soon as a fruit is picked, negating any good intentions I originally had for that fruit.
Weeks ago I was staring down the choice between organic apples from Chili or local, conventional apples. I went with the local. Does the lower emissions cancel out the use of pesticides, on a strictly environmental standpoint? There are a few orchards around Cville that are “low-spray” but even in this land of apples and organics I haven’t found anyone who marries the two.
Believe you me, I still buy bananas, just not very often during the summer and fall when there are great and local fruit options.
My increasing fascination with all things food has led the environmentalist in me to change how I grocery shop and cook.
- I make big batches of beans and grains, both of which have been pre-soaked, and freeze a few jars from each batch to eat later. The soaking cuts down on cooking time (electricity) and the freezing keeps my freezer full (more energy efficient).
- I rarely pre-heat the oven. For many things pre-heating isn’t really necessary and it wastes energy. Squash, lasagna, and potatoes certainly don’t care if the oven’s hot before going in. I also avoid turning on the oven in the hot months. Oven and AC? Just don’t make sense, pizza goes on the grill during the summer!
- I make yogurt. I eat a lot of yogurt and the containers aren’t recyclable in my neighborhood.
- I make kombucha, which saves lots of glass bottles and the shipping of those bottles in refrigerated trucks.
- I [usually!] check at the store to see where food was shipped from and try to chose the closest option.
- I unplug all small appliances when not in use, including the kitchen radio. I would probably unplug the stove if the outlet wasn’t so damn hard to reach.
- I buy in bulk and avoid excess packaging on food.
- I wash the labels off of fun jars and re-use them.
Most of these things are pretty simple and don’t take any sacrifice of comfort or time, which are the kind of changes I can live with. Do you think “green” while at the grocery? What changes have you made to green up your kitchen?
Those Italian kiwis? Molto delizioso but I’ll be getting my C from the greens in my garden for now.