By Analiese Paik
If you’ve resolved to lower your carbon footprint in 2011, the kitchen is one of the best places to start. Numerous opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle – and even compost – are created each day as we shop, prepare and cook meals at home.
On Saturday, January 15, 2011 WTNH’s Good Morning CT Show news anchor Ted Koppy interviewed Fairfield Green Food Guide Founder Analiese Paik about Greening Your Kitchen. Watch to learn some simple steps to lower your “foodprint”!
What if I told you that some of these eco-conscious practices can actually save you money while reducing your family’s impact on the Earth? These money-saving choices are highlighted in green below. I invite you to choose three action items from the list below that you can resolve to incorporate into your kitchen management practices this year. Please let us know how you do!
Stop throwing away food.
Make “Use it or Freeze It” your mantra. Learn not to buy more than you need, use your freezer to save food for another day, and start a “Clean Out the Refrigerator Night” once a week. You will save money by cutting down on wasted food.
Recycle everything you can.
Recycle glass, plastic, metal (even cleaned aluminum foil) curbside; Whole Foods collects #5s and cork for recycling (feel free to pop in just to drop off your recycling). Recycling costs you nothing but is a huge gift to the environment.
Use recycled products.
Use post-consumer recycled aluminum foil and paper products (napkins & paper towels), phosphate-free dishwashing liquid and dishwasher soap, and biodegradable garbage bags.
Compost your food scraps – even in the winter.
Food that’s thrown out instead of composted releases methane gas, contributing to global warming and climate change. Compost is a fantastic soil amendment and it costs you nothing, so you’re saving money in the end. Use an empty flour container, bowl or other receptacle to gather your food scraps in the kitchen (or a dedicated kitchen compost pail) and empty them regularly into your compost pile.
Not sure how to compost? Sign up for the Fairfield Organic Teaching Farm’s composting workshop on January 15 from 9:30-11:00 am with Master Gardener and organic gardening expert Nick Mancini to learn how. Or visit Rodale’s web site for some immediate expert advice.
Buy local in season
Buy locally grown food in season to reduce the “food miles” your food has to travel to reach your plate and cut down on food packaging. Fewer food miles translate into reduced use of fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Less packaging means you create less waste. You’ll also be providing a living wage to our farmers, ensuring farmland preservation, and encouraging the cultivation of a diversity of species, including heritage and heirloom varietals.
CSAs (community supported agriculture) programs are the most economical way to source locally grown foods and January is the time to add your name to waiting lists. Please visit our CSA page for more information. Winter farmers’ markets offer more flexibility because, unlike CSAs, you only buy the items you want in a quantity that’s just right for you. CSAs on the other hand encourage us to try new foods and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Choose organic whenever possible to protect the environment and human health. Organic foods and wines are cultivated without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides so they do not deplete the soil, damage the environment or pose threats to human health. Local organic CSAs are the most economical ways to buy fresh local produce and fruit.
Choose grass-fed meat.
Grass is the natural diet of cows and other ruminants, not corn and other grains. Most of the meat found in supermarkets is feedlot meat that has been fed industrial corn and soy (usually GMO) that’s been sprayed with pesticides and grown with synthetic fertilizers. Feedlots, also known as CAFOs (Contained Animal Feeding Operations) do not use the manure they produce as fertilizer because it is too concentrated and filled with antibiotics routinely fed to the cows to prevent them from getting sick due to their close living quarters.
Grass-fed meat is raised on pasture and the cow patties are used as manure for crops, in many cases after chickens have had a chance to eat the bugs from them. Closing the nutrient cycle means that cow manure returns to the soil as an amendment rather than stagnating as waste that runs off and fouls waterways. Grass-fed beef has been found to contain less saturated fat (and therefore fewer calories) and many times more Omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef, so it’s better for your health too. Laurel Ridge Farm offers a grass-fed beef CSA and grass-fed meat is available from several CT farms through CT Farm Fresh Express.
Stop using single use plastic storage bags.
Use Lunch Skins to store lunches and snacks to go. Lunch Skins are an eco-chic, reusable and dishwasher- safe alternative to disposable plastic sandwich and snack bags made from a high quality, moisture-proof German fabric used worldwide in the food industry.They can be used hundreds of times, unlike single use plastic bags which wind up in landfills and take somewhere between 500 and 1,000 years to decompose. Buying Lunch Skins snack and sandwich bags once and reusing them for years saves you money.
Consider Lunch Skins when planning school and other fundraisers. The company’s unique co-branding program enables you to put your group’s logo on the bag for a small minimum order. What a great way to raise money, spread sustainable practices, and show your organization’s commitment to greening our world.
Start a garden this Spring.
Even if you just plant peas in a container on St. Patrick’s Day, you will enjoy the freshest, most delicious peas you’ve ever had because you’ve grown them yourself. Research has shown that children who grow and pick their own food tend to eat it. That means they’ll eat more vegetables!
Seeds are very inexpensive, and if you make your own compost, you’ll likely wind up saving money by growing your own. A fantastic source of inspiration and advice for home gardeners is Kitchen Gardeners International, the group behind the campaign to replant a kitchen garden at the White House. Comstock Ferre & Co., a 200-year-old seed company in Wethersfield, CT, offers a wide variety of heirloom seeds via their catalog or online store. Read more about Comstock here.
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