Top 4 Ways To Be Environmentally Responsible in the Kitchen

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Earth on a Plate - image cortesy istock photo

Changing simple habits in the kitchen can reduce wasteful or toxic practices that cause environmental harm. Here are the Top 4 Ways to Be Environmentally Responsible in the Kitchen;

1. Buy Organic

The media loves to debate whether organic produce is healthier than non-organic – but this misses the point. Sure ingesting less pesticides and industrial fertilizers/herbicides byproducts wins the organic vote for how I want to feed my family, but the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture has global ramifications that will be felt for generations – from the health of our oceans to the amount of soil that will remain viable for farming.

Ideally organic farming farms in harmony with its ecosystem; farming in season, honoring the animal life of the ecosystem, and maintaining healthy soil.  (But don’t be fooled by labels – many farmers not certified organic have these values and go beyond the requirements of the organic seal – and not all organic farms necessarily live up to this ideal – know your farmer).

Industrial agriculture in its extreme attempts to grow as much food as cheap as possible no matter how it’s accomplished (and there are always hidden costs). Genetically modified crops like corn and soy are planted in vast fields of the same crops, despite the destruction of the soil, and requires additional  petroleum based fertilizers and herbicides with each new planting season.

Buying organic is a vote for the health of our planet.

2. Reduce Kitchen Waste

Each step of the food cycle from shopping to food preparation to storage has potential for tremendous waste. Think of creative ways to reduce the need for plastic storage bags and disposable food wraps and containers.

  1. Re-use glass containers – jelly, marinara sauce, and coconut oil jars can be repurposed for food storage. I reuse jelly jars to freeze leftover egg whites and wine for cooking, and larger jars for dried goods like nuts and crackers.
  2. Instead of reaching for plastic wrap or foil to cover food use a plate to cover a bowl. When you do use foil look for recycled aluminum now widely available in supermarkets.
  3. Reuse produce mesh bags (commonly used for oranges and potatoes). They are also handy when going to the farmer’s market.
  4. Compost – kitchen scraps can enrich your soil if properly composted. If you don’t have a compost bin your city may recycle scraps in a green bin. In the city of Los Angeles I am able to put all non-animal food scraps in my green bin which the city converts to mulch.

Over the years I’ve been accumulating glass storage containers like Pyrex that include covers minimizing the need for plastic wrap or throwaway plastic food storage. I also have oven safe cookware with lids so I don’t need to reach for aluminum foil.

3. Use non-toxic cleaners

Many cleaning products can contain poisonous and toxic materials– and its not just your health in danger. The production of these materials pollute our air and water that can harm animal life. These toxins get dumped again into our water system when used for cleaning in our homes.

Look for non-toxic alternatives to dish washing soap, oven cleaners, stainless steel sprays, etc. And don’t overlook simple ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda, to act as your go-to cleansers. There are numerous sources online that can teach you how to make your own home cleaning products.

4. Conserve Water

  1. Make sure none of your faucets are leaking.
  2. Run your dishwasher only when its full.
  3. Instead of pre-rinsing your dishes, use a wet sponge to wipe food residue before loading the dishwasher (then throw the sponge in to the dishwasher to clean and disinfect).
  4. Wash produce in a bowl of water instead of letting the water run.
  5. Don’t let the water run while scrubbing dishes by hand.
  6. Plan ahead and defrost food overnight in the refrigerator instead of running it under cold water.
  7. Limit use to sink disposal units and try to compost if possible.

Please share your tips for a sustainable and environmentally responsible kitchen.

This post is linked to Food Renegade | Fight Back Friday.

More Earth Day on the Web;

15 Ways to Celebrate Agriculture on Earth Day – Grist
Why Earth Day is a Jewish Holiday – COEJL

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