May 14, 2013
Minimize waste and save on your grocery bill
Food is a very significant part of our carbon footprint:
- it takes energy to produce; that’s especially so for meat and other animal products
- it travels long distances to get to our plate
- we often end up wasting A LOT of what we buy at the grocery store (up to one quarter of all the produce we buy, by one estimate)
In a world where we lose so many people to hunger every day, it seems obscene to waste food – so why not use leftovers to make soup? Here’s a blog with loads of ideas for soups and other yummy dishes made from leftovers. And here’s a link to Simply in Season, a favourite cookbook of the chief cook in our household; it’s loaded with recipes for healthy living and a healthy planet. So is the More With Less Cookbook.
And – here’s a simple one-pager with suggestions on how to minimize food spoilage. Happy nibbling!
August 7, 2012
It would be a HUGE stretch to call me a vintner, but I do enjoy going to a local commercial establishment where I can buy a kit and, with a bit of expert help, turn it into pretty nice wine. However, I’ve always been uneasy about even the small amount of waste from wine making and consumption – labels, corks and foil seals. (Not so much bottles, because they’re reused or recycled.)
If you make wine, here are some small steps you can take to reduce the eco-footprint of your beverage:
- Forego labelling individual bottles and instead label cases
- Skip the foil seals
- If you use synthetic corks, try not to pierce them all the way through with your corkscrew, and then save them for reuse again and again
- If you use real corks, compost them and consider using (and reusing) synthetic corks
If you don’t make wine but enjoy sipping it:
- Compost real corks, and save synthetic ones to give to friends who make wine (you might get a gift bottle out of it)
- Consider the distance wine has travelled and choose the most local one that satisfies your palate
- If you’re hard-core green: make a vineyard’s green credentials part of your purchase decision
Some small ways you can say cheers to the planet!
June 25, 2012
The ‘Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Clean 15’
Pesticides are an unfortunate reality of conventional food production. They help farmers increase yields and keep food prices low. But that means most produce contains small residual amounts – and some fruits and veggies contain more than others.
How is a shopper to know the difference? The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental organization specializing in toxic chemical research and advocacy, has released its 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The guide ranks 45 types of produce based on results of pesticide residue testing done by the US Department of Agriculture. The Dirty Dozen are the 12 types of produce most commonly contaminated with pesticides; the Clean 15, at the same link, are least likely to be. All the others fall somewhere in between.
Organic food has no residues because it is produced without pesticides, but organic options aren’t always available. So check out EWG’s full rankings here, and you’ve got the information you need to make wise produce choices.
(You can read about EWG’s methodology here.)
February 21, 2011
Make a difference by practicing Ethical Consumption
Most of us strive to get the best deal when we shop, and usually price is the way we measure a deal. But often, the cheapest isn’t the best deal, because it comes with hidden costs like toxic ingredients, unfair labour practices or environmental degradation.
Every time we choose to buy (or not to buy) something, we’re giving a thumbs up (or thumbs down) to a vendor and manufacturer. You could say we vote every time we open our wallets.
You can make a difference by practicing Ethical Consumption. That means, where possible, consciously looking beyond just a price tag and choosing products that are healthy, local, environmentally-friendly or fair trade. You might think you don’t have a huge influence, but you do: just as at election time, every vote counts and enough votes can generate huge changes.
Good news: StatsCan indicates Ethical Consumption is on the rise in Canada.
June 29, 2010
Fresh local produce will soon be hitting the farmers markets and grocery stores. When you buy local, you’re doing a good thing for many reasons:
1. You’re supporting neighbours and your local economy instead of anonymous, faraway suppliers.
2. You’re helping build local food production capacity because the more local food people buy, the more farmers will produce.
3. You’ll know where your food comes from, and can have confidence in higher standards of quality and food safety.
4. You’ll be doing the environment a favour, because long-distance food has a huge transportation carbon footprint. One article I’ve read estimates that one third of trucks on the road today are carrying food. The average item on a typical dinner plate has traveled more than most people travel on vacation!
So, if you’re getting tired of the limited array of local veggies available, take heart: local produce is on the horizon, and it’s a good choice all around!