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Quick and Easy Tips for Eco-Friendly Cooking

You have your reusable coffee mug and silicone straw (congrats!).  You know to compost and recycle, and bring your own tote bag every time you shop.  You want to do your part and are consciously making an effort to do better.

There are so many things that impact the environment from what we buy to what we drive, even what policies are in place.  As time goes on, we start to see more and more that can be done.  Whether you are just starting off or are an expert at living a greener life, there is always room to do better.

And one area that can always use improvement is in the way we cook and eat.  Think about it, eating is the one of the things we do several times a day.  It is part of everyone’s routine.  Making changes -whether big or small can have a huge impact in the long run.  There is no reason to drastically change what you eat or how you cook.  A few tweaks here and there can lead to bigger changes in the long run.

Ready to green-up your kitchen?  Learn how to cook in an environment-friendly manner (and save money in the process) by following these tips:

Nose to Tail, Root to Stem:  Use every last part: you paid for it after all.  The less you throw out, the less that ends up in the land fill.  Keep stems or root ends of vegetables in a container in the freezer to make stock with.  Bones can be used in the same way as well.  All you need is a pot full of water and all the odds and ends you saved to make a stock that is rich in flavor and costs a lot less that store bought.  Win, win!  You can also puree stems from herbs (lots of flavor in there) to add to sauces or marinades.  Fruit peels from apples or citrus can be added to a saucepan with water and simmered on the stove top for a DIY potpourri or even the base for herbal tea.  In reality, very little needs to be tossed in the garbage.

Buy Local:  The less miles your food has to travel, the smaller the carbon footprint.  Think about the journey your food takes, from the farm to the processing plant to grocery store to your house.  That’s a lot of frequent flier miles right there.  Buying local not only helps the local economy, but theoretically, you receive food that is fresher since it was picked right before you bought it.  It doesn’t end with produce.  Things like eggs, honey, coffee, even spices can usually be found from local purveyors.  Although something is better than nothing, aim to get as much of the food you consume from local farmers, butchers, or artisans. 

Flex Your Green Thumb: Want your food to have an even shorter commute?  Grow it yourself.  Lots of herbs can be grown indoors or on windowsills making it perfect for small spaces.  Certain fruits like strawberries or tomatoes do not take up much space.  If you have a yard consider planting fruit trees or a vegetable garden.  There are so many benefits to growing your own food.  Not only are you going to get fresher, tastier produce, but chances are it will cost less in the long run.  Your home will be filled with the sights and smells of herbs or produce.  Can you imagine waking up to the smells of citrus and mint growing in the garden?  As an added bonus, you get to burn some calories gardening your new crops.  Talk about whole-body health!

Buy Only What You Need:  80 billion tons of food is thrown away in the US each year.  We tend to purchase more food that we think we need, only to have it go bad before we have a chance to eat it.  Avoid adding unnecessary waste by only buying conservative amounts of food.  That doesn’t mean you should go hungry; it means you should consider how much you will realistically eat before it goes bad. It can be tempting to fill up your cart with the weekly specials, but are they really a bargain if you end up throwing them away before you eat them?  If you know you will only have time to cook three meals this week, only buy enough food for those three meals.  You can also try to use the same ingredients in new ways so they don’t sit in the refrigerator until they go bad.  Rather than buying cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and potatoes for the week perhaps you can nix the last two and use the cauliflower three different ways throughout the week.  Ask yourself if you really need bananas, strawberries, blueberries, AND raspberries for your morning smoothies or if you can get by with only two of those fruits.  With a little creativity, you may see that you can prepare delicious meals by buying less food. 

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