It Takes Just a Tweak, or Ten: A Realistic Approach to Sustainable Eating
My sister Kate has 358 children.
She’s birthed only three. The rest attend the elementary school in western Massachusetts where she is principal. Kate’s interested in the whole child so she feeds their minds, hearts and bellies. She’d love to make damn sure there’s a sustainable food chain available to each and every one of her prodigy for years to come. If only she had the time.
The more I write about eating sustainably in the northeast, the more I hear about time constraints thwarting green eating efforts for folks with hyper busy lifestyles. Yes, we could all just agree to slow down, re-evaluate priorities, and invest in deep-rooted homesteading practices. But just glancing at my own family’s jam-packed schedule, I think a more realistic approach involves breaking down sustainable eating practices into more digestible chunks.
Tweaking established food sourcing, preparation, and storage habits just slightly can bring them in line with sustainable eating practices. In my mind, 10 people taking 10 small steps can only further the sustainable food cause exponentially.
This list is for you, Kate, and all of my 358 nieces and nephews.
1 Store reusable bags of all sizes in plain sight in all of your vehicles. And put them right back there as soon as you’ve unloaded the groceries.
2 Keep fruit on your counter, not in you fridge, so it gets eaten instead of wasted.
3 Use every bit of that citrus making its way up here from Florida. Zest adds zing to salad dressings and baked goods and juiced rinds steeped in straight white vinegar creates a Windex alternative.
4 Cover pots of water set to boil for vegetables with a skillet and the pat of butter with which you’ll dress them. The cover makes the pot boil faster and the condensed steam melts the butter while you save both time and energy.
5 Swap leftovers for plan-overs, in your mind and on your dinner table. Instead of having a few local farmers’ market fingerlings left over from Sunday dinner, cook twice as much as you need so you have the makings for easy hash browns for Tuesday night.
6 Throw crusts of bread into the food processor instead of the garbage for homemade breadcrumbs that keep for months in the freezer.
7 Put an egg on it. With the economics of the bird flu making factory eggs more expensive, local eggs at 4 to 5 bucks a dozen don’t seem that far out of reach.
8 Put chicken bones, carrot and parsnip peels, bell pepper cores, celery tops, onion skins and parsley stems in a gallon sized freezer bag. When it’s full dump the contents into a soup pot with a bay leaf, a couple sprigs of thyme, a dozen black peppercorns and enough water to cover. With two hours of simmering, you’ll have homemade chicken stock.
9 Experiment with local, humanely raised meat with a pound of ground beef, pork or turkey. The increase in flavor means you need less on the plate.
10 Use a dishpan to do the washing up instead of letting the water run straight down the drain.