Posts Tagged With: food

Greener Eats

Healthy food is currently making a resurgence in popular culture. Even the all-mighty villain of good eats, McDonalds, now offers apple slices as a side choice for their kids meals! As food trends go, I think this one is here to stay. But why exactly are your eating habits so important from a sustainable standpoint?

Whether or not you go fully vegetarian/vegan or remain omnivorous, eating less meat is a cheaper, healthier and more environmentally friendly way to go. Livestock and meat production is highly land, energy and resource intensive. If you’re in for a long read, the Vegetarian Society has a very in-depth piece on the environmental benefits of going veggie. One of the main points is that worldwide, farmed animals produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s entire transport system (18% of the total vs about 13%).

If that number doesn’t jump out at you, then don’t worry. You don’t need an environmental justification to enjoy vegetables! Cooking without meat (or dairy, if you so choose) allows you to be much more creative. Instead of relying on fat and meat to flavor everything, you get to experiment with the whole rainbow of spices and natural flavors. Plus, cooking your own vegetables means you can make them exactly the way you like them best, whatever that means to you.

Or, if you’re not ready to fully commit to a meat-free lifestyle, you can follow in the footsteps of one of the most famous food writers, Mark Bittman, who writes for the New York Times. Bittman is a member of the growing movement of people who define themselves as “flexitarians”. Not vegan/vegetarian all the time, just more often than not. He sums it up perfectly in this article, titled “Going Vegan, if Only for a Day”.

While I am not personally a vegetarian or vegan, I try and live a little lighter on the planet by choosing more vegan options. One of my favorite ways to do this is by exploring food blogs. There are thousands on the internet, but I’ve found a few vegan/vegetarian blogs that I’m just obsessed with. I’ve shared a few below, I hope you check them out and enjoy them as much as I do!

Produce on Parade

I list her first because Katie, an Alaskan vegan with a healthy sense of humor and adventure, is quickly becoming one of my favorite food blogs – period. She lists tons of comfort food, vegan style. I guess it comes with the territory when you live somewhere that cold! Her awesome recipes come complete with beautiful photographs, so I highly recommend you check them out!

Rockstar Recipe: I have yet to try any of hers yet, but her Coconutty Cinnamon Roll Pancakes look out of this world!

 

Cooking Stoned

No, he isn’t really stoned. However, Jerry James Stone is an EXCELLENT chef. A vegetarian, Stone often dabbles in vegan or gluten-free recipes, all accompanied by cute instructional videos and recipes.

Rockstar Recipe: Everything I’ve made by his recipes has been great, but his Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Crushed Pine Nuts and Parmesan are a hit among all of my friends, and they’re so easy to make!

 

The Vegan Stoner

This website is downright adorable. Every recipe is illustrated by cute, cartoony depictions of the ingredients that look, well, a little high. Sarah Conrique and Graham I. Haynes are the designers behind the recipes and drawings, and their mission is to offer vegan recipes that don’t require an extensive kitchen of ingredients or complicated instructions to prepare.

Rockstar Recipe: I’m a big fan of their Cashew Ambrosia Salad. It’s creamy, nutty and sweet. They even have a cookbook in select stores, with even more doodles and cheap, easy vegan recipes.

Oh She Glows

Angela Liddon’s vegan blog is one of the most popular and established in the genre. She has hundreds of popular recipes, and updates frequently. In addition, some of her recipes are gluten-free, soy-free or free of processed foods. There’s a ton of recipes to choose from, so get ready to fall down the rabbit hole of vegan cuisine.

Rockstar Recipe: I love her Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole for a hearty and flavorful meal. I recommend plenty of her desserts as well, for those with a sweet tooth.

 

Budget Bytes

While this food blog may not be particularly vegetarian or vegan themed, this is my all-time favorite food blog. Beth caters to those with good taste and slim wallets. She does a price breakdown of every recipe for the budget-concious readers, which is great. She has a drop-down menu on the side that has vegan, vegetarian and vegetables categories.

Rockstar Recipe: I’m currently working my way through her recipes, but Beth so far has not disappointed. Recently I made her Island Rice Pilaf  for my roommates and they ate up every bit. Although, to be fair, it’s like that with every one of Beth’s recipes.

 

Bon Appétit!

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5 Tips to Make Your Turkey Day More Sustainable

The holiday season is upon us! Now there’s an extra five-day weekend putting some much needed space between you and your next exam. Even better? The weekend is filled with a regular smorgasbord of savory snacks and delectable dishes. Suffice to say that Thanksgiving is a holiday a lot of college students look forward to.

Freshmen and seniors alike are returning home to see friends and family, and to maybe impart a little of the knowledge they’re picking up back in Gainesville. So how about coming home this year with some knowledge that will actually make a difference? Here are five tips to help you make your family’s feast a little more sustainable.

  1. Go local. By now you’ve realized that I’m all about the local food. It has so many benefits, the least of which is the opportunity to connect with your agricultural community. Since you’ve been informed about how great farmers’ markets are and visited the Gainesville one (right?) why not make a fun family event out of it and check out your local farmers’ market? Check online listings for the one nearest you.
  2. Go organic. Again, I believe I’ve made my point about how organic is a good choice for you and your family. Check out my earlier post about which produce is better organic for the most budget friendly choices.
  3. Go meatless. I know, I know, what blasphemy on the most hallowed of meat-eating days! But seriously, meat production makes a big impact on our planet (greater than transportation) and by eating a little less, you can lighten your impact. But coincidentally, turkeys are one of the most sustainable livestock to farm and produce. Try sticking with just the turkey, and keep the rest of your sides carb and veggie focused.
  4. Watch your waste. Americans waste a tremendous amount of food (40% of what we make annually, to be exact). Save your leftovers by giving them to friends and relatives or taking them back to school with you. Give away extra canned and pre-packaged food to nearby shelters, or maybe prepared food if they allow it. And if at all possible, compost what’s left. A more realistic method to reduce waste, however, is to use cloth napkins and actually use plates and silverware at your event. Washing dishes later is worth it compared to having needless plastic sit in a landfill for a few thousand years.
  5. Recycle. All those bottles, cans and boxes that went into preparing and serving your food have to go somewhere. Why not the recycling bin? Making an effort to save the recyclables is a great step to reducing waste as well, and saves overall time and energy to create new products further down the line.

This info-graphic is a great resource for checking to see what you can do to follow these tips, and more. Have a happy, fun and sustainable holiday!

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Seasonal Food

What does it mean to be seasonal?

When you walk into the produce section of your local grocery store, chances are that it looks the same as it did yesterday. And the same as it did last week, last month, last year – you get the idea. The produce display at major grocery stores is static. It doesn’t really change all that much throughout the year. The most “seasonal” a store ever gets is offering pumpkins in October and November. So what’s wrong with that?

It’s simple – it doesn’t reflect the natural world. In today’s society, modern technology has made it possible for us to have any type of produce at any time, from anywhere in the world. This is a fantastic step in globalization and international trade, but it isn’t very sustainable. The natural world has a rhythm, and every fruit and vegetable has a certain time when it should be planted and harvested, depending on the weather and time of year. However, technology has enabled us to take produce that might have originally only been available in the summer, grow it halfway across the globe and ship it back to our stores in the middle of winter. Other tactics include genetically modifying a plant to lengthen its growing season.

Certainly this is a great thing for keeping up a varied diet and for the ability to make your favorite dish at any time of the year. Though the costs of producing food outside of this cycle are not immediately visible, they are significant. Produce not grown in season just doesn’t taste as good as naturally in-season food does. Tomatoes become watery red globes devoid of flavor, apples become mealy and bland ,and we lose the opportunity to enjoy our food at its peak of freshness and flavor.

But if flavor alone doesn’t sell you, take into account that produce grown halfway around the globe has quite a journey ahead of it. This journey requires produce to be harvested way in advance, pumped with preservatives and then artificially ripened when they finally arrive. Choosing foods in-season minimizes your exposure to pesticides and allows your food to spend more time ripening naturally.

Last but not least, eating food along with their seasonal rhythms affords us a connection to our natural world that can be difficult to find today. We experience the seasons and the flavors to which they are intrinsically linked. Spring has the most mouthwatering strawberries. In summer, sweet corn is king. Fall brings hearty pumpkins and squashes, and of course, winter is when Florida’s famous citrus ripens to perfection.

For more information about seasonal food in Florida, this chart is a great resource.

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