As you compile your list of New Year’s resolutions, why not consider adding “lower my foodprint“? The choices you make in what you eat really do impact the Earth more than you think. These simple, inexpensive, and tasty suggestions will surely help you make good on your green food resolutions and I guarantee you’ll have fun along the way.
#1 Allocate at least 10 percent of your food budget to locally grown foods and eat with the seasons. When we choose local, we know our “food miles” are low, our packing waste is greatly diminished and our food is farm-fresh and delicious. Indoor Winter Farmers’ Markets at the Fairfield Theater Company in Fairfield on Saturdays from 10-2 and in Norwalk at 61-65 Wall Street, also on Saturdays from 10-2, offer a wide variety of locally-grown and artisan made seasonal foods that support family-owned farms. Artisan cheeses, maple syrup, eggs, carrots, spinach, salad greens, meats, freshly-baked breads and pies are some of the products you will find. If you can’t make it to the farmers’ markets, you can always order online from CT Farm Fresh Express, the online retailer of exclusively CT-grown and made foods, for Friday delivery to your door. That’s right, it’s the no excuses way to eat locally!
#2 Buy sustainably-raised meat. “Food miles” are not the main contributors to food chain greenhouse gases, agricultural practices are and animal agriculture is a big percentage of that. The number of retail options for buying humanely raised, grass-fed meat that’s never been administered antibiotics or hormones continues to grow.
Whole Foods Market Westport is now sourcing pasture raised, grass-fed beef from New England farms through a program with Wolfe’s Neck. Wolfe’s Neck Farm was a pioneer in raising beef on organic, small-scale alternative farms employing rotational grazing practices, and their program has grown to include over 150 family-owned farms in NY, NJ, CT, MA, NH, MA, and VT who share their dedication to sustainable agriculture.
You Are Invited! Please join me at Whole Foods Market Westport on Saturday, December 19 from noon until 3 pm for a Free Holiday Roast Tasting and a Sustainable Discussion featuring Wolfe’s Neck Natural Beef. The first 20 guests will receive a free holiday gift. We’ll have tips and holiday recipes for the taking! Don’t forget to bring your #5 containers for recycling (see #3).
#3 Recycle your #5 containers. Unless you live in Nantucket, which is a leader in “zero waste”, you are probably throwing out your #5 plastic containers. Most eco-conscious consumers have already sworn off bottled water, wouldn’t be caught shopping without a reusable bag, and are in the habit of recycling their metal, plastic and glass containers. But #5 containers, which are used to package foods like yogurt, hummus and cottage cheese, are not recycled by many municipalities. Whole Foods Markets collects #5 containers in their stores for recycling under their Gimme 5 program. So save your #5 containers and recycle them at the store instead of letting them end up in a landfill. If you don’t live near a Whole Foods Market, you can ship them directly to the recycling center.
#4 Choose organic whenever feasible. Earlier I mentioned that agricultural practices related to growing food are significant contributors to greenhouse gases, which makes choosing organic and other sustainably grown and produced foods over conventional an excellent means to further reduce one’s “foodprint”. Many CT farmers are using organic land care practices and their produce can be found at winter farmers’ markets and through CT Farm Fresh Express. Too expensive you say? Then join an organic CSA, my #1 pick for buying organic produce economically. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is an arrangement between you and the farmer to buy a share of a season’s harvest that you pick up weekly at the farm or a designated pick up point. These shares are so coveted that joining a waiting list is usually the only way to secure one. The Fairfield Green Food Guide publishes a comprehensive guide to CSAs so be sure to subscribe to the e-newsletter to receive breaking news or simply subscribe to the site’s RSS feed. Currently you may join Stoneledge Farm’s Organic CSA waiting list for Stamford, Wilton or Southport.
#5 Buy sustainably raised and harvested seafood. Thanks to the great work of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, choosing sustainable seafood has never been easier. The Aquarium’s web site has a treasure trove of resources for consumers, restaurants and seafood businesses to help the make sustainable choices. iPhone and other mobile apps? You bet, but you can also download and print the Seafood Watch pocket guide which fits neatly into any wallet and will guide you to the right purchase. Great local news on the sustainable shrimp front, Palmer’s Market in Darien is now selling ONLY wild harvested Mexican white shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico (see photo).
#6 Don’t buy more than you’re going to cook. Stop buying fruits and vegetables in bulk if you frequently find them in your refrigerator or on your counter going bad. We think we’re doing right by our family by saving money from buying in quantity, but throwing out food is just wasteful. To avoid spoiled leftovers, portion and freeze food that will not be eaten in the next few days.
#7 Make your own vegetable stock with vegetable trimmings. If you have some vegetables that wind up past their prime despite your best efforts to only buy what you need, use them and any other vegetable ends, peelings and trimmings you’ve accumulated to make homemade vegetable stock. Simply add raw vegetable trimmings to a container as your create them and keep it refrigerated or frozen until you’ve accumulated enough to make a vegetable stock of your own. Vegetable stock is easily prepared in 45 minutes, is more delicious than store bought, and provides you with a great start to a soup, sauce, gravy, braise, rice pilaf or risotto. Celery (stem and leaf), carrots, onions (peel too), leeks, parsley stems, turnips, garlic and mushrooms make great stocks.
#8 Compost your unusable vegetables and fruits. Get yourself a compost pail, line it with a BioBag (fully compostable), and accumulate your raw food waste for use in a composter. Many people have a composter in the backyard, but new composters in the form of small electronic kitchen appliances allow you to compost right in your own home without the use of soil, leaves and worms. The Wall Street Journal did a nice review of home composters recently and the bottom line is it’s never been easier or more convenient to compost at home. Important note: food waste that winds up in landfills is trapped in an anaerobic environment where it is unable to decompose and return nutrients to the soil.
#9 Choose post consumer recycled napkins, paper towels, and aluminum foil and biodegradable kitchen garbage bags. There’s a double bonus to using post consumer recycled products. Recycled content means the waste that would have wound up in our landfills (or incinerated) is now being repurposed into a consumer product. As a bonus, fewer trees need to be cut down and less of our precious natural resources like aluminum are required to make additional product.
#10 Choose glass containers to safely store and reheat leftovers and make ahead foods. By avoiding the purchase of storage containers made from petroleum-based plastics, we achieve the twin goals of safely storing our food and avoiding a product made from a non-renewable resource which requires a lot of energy to refine and when burned, emits CO2, the most prominent greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Please visit www.fairfieldgreenfoodguide.com for continued support in your New Year’s Green Food Resolutions. Happy New Year!