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Better Home Ecology for Foodies

Who me, foody? Why yes! Living in France for over a decade changed me from a vegan food lover into a vegetarian food snob. Even though junk food, the low fat trend and loss of seasonal local produce has taken a solid foothold in France, there is still a strong, cultural tradition that says “everything in moderation, but especially the high quality stuff.”

I’ve adopted that tradition as my own, and while I’m very discerning with my food choices, I don’t have the slightest feeling that I am missing out on anything. Just because you’re a foody doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your ecological values. And just because you have those values doesn’t mean you can’t be a foody!

Here’s a few tips for remaining loyal to your ethical beliefs while still indulging in the finer things!

1)Plastic? Ew. Your food will look, taste and keep better if you store it in glass containers instead of plastic. I’m talking leftovers in the fridge, bulk products in the pantry, and countertop canisters. Ever put tomato sauce into a plastic container only to have it NEVER wash off completely? That tomato sauce is acidic, and acidic foods will leach chemicals out of plastics very easily. In fact, plastic bonds easily with other compounds, while glass doesn’t.  So to keep plastic chemicals out of your food, store food in glass, which will also last longer (provided you turn off clutz mode before handling) since those plastic lids tend to shrink or get lost. And this advice goes for cups and plates too… you don’t use plastic cups do you? How gauche! If you must use plastics, use the safer ones.

2)Buy organic, buy local, buy sustainable. Um, which is it? When strolling the aisles of produce in your local grocery store, you might have a choice between buying an organic bell pepper from Mexico or a conventional bell pepper from your own county or an organic bell pepper from a neighboring state or a conventional bell pepper from the other side of the world. Right, you will NOT pick the latter! Which one you do decide to pick is up to you, depending on the best combination of factors…Or if you can’t find the produce you are looking for in a local, organic option, why not buy choose something else, something that is in season locally? My recommendation is look at the bulk of your buying habits and try to make those make the most ecological sense while for the occasional splurges (papaya anyone?), don’t sweat it, just enjoy.

3)Quality over quantity. Meat eater are you? Well, I won’t judge. A vegetarian or vegan lifestyle may be more sustainable, but some individuals just don’t seem to flourish on a vegetarian diet (no, if you’ve never tried, I’m not excusing you…). However, most people in the western world eat too much meat, too often, while many other food cultures use meat as an accompaniment to a meal made up mostly of grains and vegetables and fruits. If you are a staunch carnivore, here’s my challenge to you. Eat less of it, but buy better quality. Make sure it’s organic, or local and sustainably raised, and eat it less often. I bet you’ll notice a difference in quality too.

4)Grow your own! Plant some berry bushes along the side of your fence, start an herb garden, plant a fig tree. There are plenty of options for providing yourself with some of your food needs straight from your back yard. Favor a permaculture approach, planting more of the plants that will grow back year after year and require less watering and maintenance. For inspiration, check out this lovely BBC documentary, A Farm for the Future.

5)Find a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program and sign up for weekly deliveries or pickups. Over the winter I signed up for a weekly delivery of in-season produce grown by local, organic farms. Yes, I said, “over the winter,” which meant a lot of kale, sweet potatoes and cabbage! This certainly stimulated my creativity as I had to find a way to keep things interesting and varied. I liked knowing that I was helping local organic farmers, and liked knowing that the bulk of our food was in season and locally grown.

Take it to the next level...

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