Saturday, August 8, 2009

Food: greens and beans, part 1

I intend to post a lot about cooking on this blog, because I love to cook. It is extremely pertinent to a discussion about going green too, because large scale food production is responsible for more green house gas emissions than all of the cars on the road. By a lot. So for anyone who has never heard the link between going green and food, here is a brief overview.

What does food have to do with being green? Well, a lot. For one thing, cows produce methane, which is a green house gas. All animals produce methane actually (including us), but cows produce more than most. Also, because we eat so very much beef in this country, we have developed a lot of unsustainable practices to get that much beef to market. For an intro, see Farmer in Chief by Michael Pollan, an open letter to the new president about food production in this country.

Now I am not one of those conspiracy theorists who think that big business and big brother are evil, I recognize that today's problems all stem from the solutions to yesterday's problems. We have intensive, unsustainable agriculture right now because previous generations were trying to solve the problems of food shortages and hunger. But the fact is that now, we face new problems and need new solutions.

So what can we do? Well, lets start from the easiest and work our way up to the hardest adjustments that we can make to do our part.

For one, we can eat chicken instead of beef every so often. Without getting too technical on you, chicken is the most environmentally friendly meat. Next, in the same vein, we can eat vegetarian once in a while. If you like Indian food, this should be a snap. In India, they have been working on their vegetarian recipes for about two thousand years, and they've gotten pretty good at it.

Third, we can try eating vegan a few times. This is harder, because for people who are used to eating animal products with every meal (even most veggie meals have butter, cheese or milk), most vegan food tastes like cardboard. But try different places, different recipes, and well really just keep trying! And also, don't try so hard. Pasta with olive oil and spices, tossed with some grilled or fried vegetables and a little sea salt is a quick, easy, and delicious vegan dish, for example (I love sea salt, maybe it deserves its own post...).

You've probably heard this a thousand times in some form, but if everybody would do these three basic things on a regular basis, it would have a huge impact. There are a few more difficult/ intensive things that we can do as well, but I will post that stuff later, in part 2.

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