Food is hot, folks, and I’m not just talking in the Sriracha-sense of the term. From Jamie Oliver’s prime-time Food Revolution, to the Huffington Post’s new food section, to the newest offering from the folks who brought us the Food Network, the The Cooking Channel (described as “a little grittier, a little edgier, a little hipper” than it’s older cousin according to senior vice president for programming and production, Bruce Seidel), you can’t turn around without reading or hearing about free-range eggs, truffle-hunting, DIY beer, home-butchering, and everything else under the culinary sun.
Yesterday’s 40th anniversary of Earth Day (founded April 22, 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson) brought home to me just how essential a healthy, vital, thriving global ecosystem is to food production, not to mention food security. As someone whose life and career revolve around food (from writing about it, to cooking it, growing it, talking about it, studying it academically, and beyond), I decided to examine how my food choices and actions dovetail with the overall ethos of Earth Day as its founders envisioned it (a 1969 visit to a huge oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA prompted Nelson to envision a series of “teach-ins” on the environment, mirroring those already happening on college campuses nationwide working to raise awareness about the Vietnam War).
For today’s “Small Measures with Ashley”, I’m listing all of the food-related actions I take on a daily basis in my kitchen, as well as outside of my home, to nurture, protect, and sustain the environment. These are real, tangible, hold-in-my-hands choices, the results of which offer an immediate, observable return. While global climate change, endangered animal species, melting ice caps, ocean gyres full of waste, and other environmental issues often feel remote and divorced from my everyday, lived experiences (although I know science points to their existence), the choices and actions I take in my kitchen and with my food supply bring an immediacy to the issue.
Many of these “small measures” have been chronicled in this column since its inception in July 2009. More of a “round-up” than anything, looking at them in totality makes me see just how much the actions of one person truly do add up over time. So much of the waste that would otherwise be generated in my home’s kitchen (think of just how much potential trash our kitchens hold, from glass, plastic, and aluminum containers to vegetable debris, cleaning products, and even pet foods, not to mention the manner in which the foods are grown, processed, and transported themselves-Michael Pollan, in a 2008 NYTimes Magazine open letter to the future president of the U.S. listed the food industry as the largest consumer of fossil fuels, gobbling up around 19% of total usage annually) is repurposed, reused, recycled, and re-thought. And that sounds delicious to me.
CLICK HERE for 25 “small measures” you can take every day in your kitchen to help the earth (after the jump)!
Here are twenty-five “small measures” I take every day in my kitchen (many of which I’ve discussed in greater depth in small measure archives ):
*Composting kitchen scraps
*Keeping a kitchen garden (no matter the size, and keeping toxic substances out of it)
*Canning & Preserving
*Making my own dairy products
*Recycling all paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum products
*Repurposing used glass bottles into homemade vinegars and oils and more, for personal use or as gifts
*Bringing my own containers to the meat & fish counter at the market
*Supporting CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture)
*Patronizing farmer’s markets
*Visiting pick your own farms in season
*Carrying my own shopping bags to the market
*Reusing plastic food bags (I’ve had some for years)
*Seeking out locally grown and processed foods
*Buying/eating foods in season
*Forgoing the use of plastic wrap
*Using biodegradable trash and pet waste bags
*Purchasing prepared foods only if they are in recyclable containers
*Running the dishwasher only when full
*Using homemade and/or non-toxic cleaning supplies
*Line-drying cloth napkins and cloth towels (and using only cloth napkins and towels as opposed to disposables)
*Seriously minimizing the use of paper towels (used mainly for pet-related “mishaps”)
*Storing foods in glass, ceramic, or metal containers instead of plastic
*Buying mineral water in glass bottles (if at all)
What about you? How do you get your “eat on” in an Earth Day-approved manner? I’d love to hear your tips! The more you know, the more you can do, and share. Here’s to promoting Earth Day eating, everyday! -ashley