Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Going Green, part 3: the 3R's for Food

To see the first "Going Green" post and links to subsequent ones, click here.
This post is in honor of my mother who taught me how to cook, how to shop with a list, how not to be wasteful when I cook, and how to use that freezer!!

Can you practice the 3R's of Going Green (reduce, reuse, recycle) with food? You betcha.

Learn to cook from scratch; you'll need less prepared food which is more expensive and typically comes in wasteful packaging. Make a menu for the week and then make a corresponding grocery list. This will save you from buying food you won't end up eating (and therefore wasting). Use that freezer for leftovers! Vegetable soup tastes great with odds and ends of leftover, seasoned veggies that have been frozen. Don't have time to use the whole stalk of celery? Cut it up and freeze it for use in soups. You can even freeze milk if you don't have time to use it before it's date! There are whole books written on how to use your freezer; Carrie also wrote a good basic article for our full tummies blog.

You can certainly recycle and/or compost your food and food-related trash. In addition to such obvious solutions to help your kitchen get a little greener, you can also buy from bulk bins in local stores (typically, you can find stores selling grains and herbs/spices in bulk; Fresh Market, Whole Foods stores, farmer's markets, co-ops, etc. usually fall into this category). This allows you to buy the small amount you might actually need of wheat bran and also avoid extra packaging (and this also can save you money!). You can also buy in bulk from places like Sam's Club, BJ's, etc. This can also help reduce packaging, depending on what you buy (for instance, we buy a big 5-pound block of American cheese; each slice is not individually wrapped, so we save all those little plastic wrappers.)

Eating Out
How can you be greener when eating out? Consider the following: bringing back a reusable cup to coffee shops. Tell the person taking your order what you don't/won't eat. (I don't like tomatoes on my burgers; if I tell them that up front, then there's a tomato slice saved from the trash.) In fast food places, don't take more napkins (or ketchup packets, sugar packets, etc.) than you will need. Don't order more food than you should eat; this will save you from over-eating and/or wasting the extra food. You could also frequent places like Panera, which use regular dishes, over places like McAllister's, which use disposable dishes.

These are just a few kitchen and food strategies to get you started on your greener quest. Start looking around your kitchen as you prepare food. What can you reduce? What can you reuse? What can you recycle?

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