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Earth-Friendly Cooking Tips

April 12, 2012
Go green when it comes to cooking. (Photo by: sudeepuk)

In honor of Earth Day, I’ve put together some earth-friendly cooking tips. From the farmers market to the stove’s flame, the following tips are not only better for the environment but will make your cooking more delicious, cost-effective and healthier. Happy Earth Day!

Tip 1: Buy Local and Organic Food as Much as Possible
Locally grown, organic ingredients are a result of sustainable agriculture, have a smaller carbon footprint and support the local economy. Many farmers markets sell fresh local produce, grains, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey, and even cut flowers and jams. Consider joining a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, which offers harvest-fresh local produce from your area.

Tip 2: Shop By Season
For a savvy way to eat delicious and nutrient-dense fruits and veggies, make it your goal to mostly purchase (or grow!) produce in season in your area. Field to Plate’s website offers regional guides to seasonal produce around the country.

Tip 3: Bulk Up
Buy dry ingredients in bulk to cut down on packaging waste which overwhelms landfills and eats up grocery dollars. Bring clean food storage containers with you to stores with bulk sections and skip the plastic bags entirely.

Tip 4: Buy Pastured Meat, Poultry, Dairy and Eggs from Family Farms
If you eat meat, try to consume only organic animal products from sustainable family farms that raise humanely treated, pastured animals without hormones or antibiotics. An animal that grazes on grass, gets exercise and is exposed to the sun is healthier (and happier) than factory-farmed animals. The result? Healthier food for you, a better life for the animal and reduced methane pollution.

Tip 5: Buy Ocean-Friendly, Sustainable Seafood
Unsustainably farmed and caught seafood results in depleted marine populations, destroyed ocean habitats and polluted waters. How do you know if the fish you buy is environmentally friendly? Jaclyn Einis’ post about ocean-friendly seafood explains what to ask your fishmonger about wild-caught and farm-raised fish.

Tip 6:  Put a Lid on it!
Save energy in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop by covering your pot or pan with a tight-fitting lid and turning the heat off a minute or two before the food is done and the trapped heat will finish cooking the food. Try boiling organic pasta with this method: Bring water to boil; add pasta. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover; turn off heat. No peeking! Let sit undisturbed for the remaining time recommended by the package instructions, up to 3 minutes more.

Tip 7: Be Mindful of Food Waste
Food waste is a great burden on landfills today. We can do our part by buying only what we need (a shopping list is handy for this) and in amounts that can be consumed before the food spoils. Be mindful about using up what’s in the refrigerator before it rots, and donate extra canned or packaged food to shelters and people in need.

Over 1 billion people around the world participate in Earth Day: Let’s make these earth-friendly tips a part of our lives, and not just for one day.

What are you cooking for Earth Day this year?

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