Going green with your grub
Farmer's markets are a great place to buy local, seasonal foods.
If Earth Day is inspiring you to go green, youre in luck. There are plenty of small changes you can make in your kitchen and dining room.
The price difference between organic and regular food is shrinking, said Barbara Beery, author of Green Princess Cookbook.
If youre having trouble finding organic food, dont be afraid to ask your supermarket to stock more, she said.
Beery pointed out that the nutrient value is not much different between organic and nonorganic fruits and vegetables. So, if youre going to buy only a few organic products, Beery stressed they should be milk and meat. Those are the ones that are laced with hormones, she said.Staying local
Even if you buy locally rather than organic, the very fact that the food comes from a nearby farm means fewer chemicals are being used, said Terra Wellington, author of The Moms Guide to Growing Your Family Green.
The farther away the food originated, Wellington said, the more chemicals are used to keep it fresh, not to mention the energy needed to transport it.
Buying locally also means your food will be seasonal, which can be healthy and delicious.
To buy local and seasonal foods, visit your local farmers market, or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group, where members receive fresh fruits and veggies from a local farm. If you want to go one step further, try setting up a community garden. Green Guerillas helps New York and Brooklyn residents do just that (go to greenguerillas.org).
Watch what you eat
The first step to greening your diet is cutting back on meat. A single serving of meat requires 2,607 gallons of water, said Kate Heyhoe, author of Cooking Green. If you cant give it up completely, replacing some meat meals with vegetarian dishes is helpful.
When shopping for seafood, make sure youre buying sustainable seafood, Wellington said. Seventy-five percent of fish we purchase has been overfished or fished to capacity, she said. (You can get a card at Seafoodwatch.org that lists all the fishes that are okay to eat.)
If you want to cut down your carbon footprint at home, you can cook things such as bulgur wheat and bean thread noodles, which dont need to be cooked on the stovetop or in the oven, and can be soaked in boiling water instead. Only six percent of a gas ovens fuel goes into cooking the food, said Heyhoe. Its the Hum-V of the kitchen.
Reducing your carbon footprint in the kitchen:
1)Keep the refrigerator between 37 and 40 degrees. The fridge consumes more power than anything else (except AC and heating), so dont make it too cold. You can use blue freezer packs for items that need to be colder.
Also, the less empty space in your refrigerator, the more efficient it will be, so spread things out.
2)Pilot light should burn blue, not yellow. You only need the lowest possible flame.
3)Use cork, recycled plastic or compressed cardboard cutting boards. Those are sustainable, and youll be surprised how well they work.
4)Take advantage of small appliances. Rice cookers, toaster ovens, crock pots and electric water kennels use a fraction of the energy of the oven or stove.
5)Run your dishwasher and washing machine after peak hours. This saves fuel at the power plant. It takes more raw material to create energy between 4-8 p.m.
6)Buy EnergyStar products. The prices are becoming competitive with regular appliances and theyll save you money on electricity bills.
Tips courtesy of Kate Heyhoe
Recipe: Barbara Beerys Dig-That-Earth-Day Hummus
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 medium-size cooked organic beets, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons organic lemon juice
Â¼ cup water
3 tablespoons tahini
Â½ teaspoon ground cumin
Â½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced organic flat-leaf parsley
Place chickpeas and beets in a food processor along with the garlic, lemon juice and water; process about 1 minute. Add more water if needed to form a smooth and creamy consistency.
Add tahini, cumin and paprika and belnd another 30 second to combine.
Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days. To serve, place in a shallow dish and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and minced parsley. Serve with plenty of whole grain bread and pita bread.
Green living tip: Connect to nature and grow your own garden. Grown fruits, veggies and herbs in pots of window boxes.