The foods we choose to put on our plates — or toss away – could have more of an ecological impact than many of us realize.
On Earth Day, here are some ways to consider how our diet impacts the planet.
You’ve heard the numbers on food waste. More than 30 percent of available food is tossed each year in America. It’s enough to fill Chicago’s 1,450-foot-tall Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) 44 times over.
The U.S. has set an official goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. Universities have begun to chip away at the food waste issue by promoting ugly fruit and vegetables and shifting away from pre-cooked, buffet style food, instead serving more cook-to-order options that can cut down on waste. Food service companies are working with farmers and chefs to get more blemished but edible produce into cafeterias across the country. Even religious groups are getting into the act, raising attention to the problem of food waste among the faithful and connecting with restaurants, retailers and food banks to help redirect food to hungry mouths that might otherwise end up in landfills.
natgeoVideo by @ronan_donovan // Watch what happens when this bear steps away from his meal… Common ravens can make quick work of a carcass as they clamour for scraps of meat that they might eat on the spot, or often fly off to cache the tasty protein pack for later in the winter. Want to see what happens when the bear gets annoyed with the birds, hop over to @ronan_donovan for another video of this same bear.
In honor of Earth Day, here’s a sustainability pasta pro-tip from Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank: The next time you make pasta, don’t waste your used cooking water by pouring it down the drain. Instead, let it cool, and use it to water your plants. The starchy H2O will give them a beneficial nutrient boost and help them grow. Just be sure to avoid using cooking water that has been salted or seasoned.
For instance, taste. Like, one day an alien notices the human crew member dumping something bright orange on their midday ration.
Alien: Does your supplement not have the right nutrients/? Human: No, it just tastes bad. Alien: ???? Human: Well, not precisely bad, but bland. It’s boring. So I thought I’d spice it up a bit. *waves bottle of bright orange substance* Alien: You add items to your food that provide no necessary sustenance??? Human: Oh, just wait ‘til you hear about junk food.
‘Cause humans eat stuff that is not good just for the sensation. Like really spicy foods, chewing gum, and all these spices. And the aliens don’t get it. You put that in your body? Doesn’t that mess up your digestive system? What purpose does it serve?
Or human eating rituals. If you eat with one group of humans there are all of these utensils, some of which look extremely similar, but each with it’s own unique purpose. And if you don’t use the right one at the right time it’s a social faux pas. Then another group mostly uses their hands and lick their fingers. Does this not introduce pathogens? And you’ll see the same human doing both behaviors.
And there’s the whole concept of a meal as a social endeavor. Humans will have a meal with those they are close with as a sign of affection. Humans don’t even spend the entire meal eating, no they use it to talk. Business is done, friends catch up, families share news. All over a meal.
Aliens considering food a necessity not to be discussed in public. Yet here are these humans, who post pictures of their food to social media, share recipes, use food as a social catalyst, and as comfort. Hell, comfort food as a completely human idea that aliens don’t understand.
This is a perfect example of an easy bread that can be made every day. I mean, sure, it would be just as easy (if not easier) to use a sourdough starter, or to bake a large batch for several days in a row*, but if you are a fan of fresh, chewy, crusty bread every dang day than this is the one you want to use. This is the recipe I use whenever I need (or want) fresh bread for dinner. It’s easy. Seriously, it can be done in less than an hour. Plus it’s one of the best breads I’ve ever made, so there’s that too :)
*When one is involved in all the menial tasks to survival that we take for granted, sometimes we forget just what goes into ‘survival’. Peoples of Middle Earth would naturally have to work very hard, since not everyone can go on adventures and have everything taken care of for them. I like this little saying, even if it’s just household chores (leaving out planting, weeding, butchering, harvesting, thrashing, preserving, spinning, weaving, knitting, chopping firewood, etc.) I suppose I’m guilty of romanticizing the ‘olden lifestyle’; it sure sounds fun but if it came down to it I’ll stay in the 21st century, thank you very much. “Wash on Monday Iron on Tuesday Mend on Wednesday Churn on Thursday Clean on Friday Bake on Saturday Rest on Sunday.”
This delicious, tender and chewy cake-y sort of cookie can be enjoyed any time of the day. Teatime, dessert, or even breakfast for the gutsy. Serve with a dollop of fresh, sweetened whipped cream for a real indulgence.
2 large eggs 1 cup (200 g) white sugar ½ teaspoon salt (less if using salted butter) ½ cup (120 g) butter, melted 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour ½ cup (75 g) sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 325 F/162 C. Lightly grease an 8x8 square or 9-inch round pan.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs together until light-colored and thick. Add sugar and salt, continuing to beat until shiny and pale yellow. Add the vanilla, melted butter and ½ cup of flour, folding gently. Fold in the remaining ½ cup of flour.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan and they’re a light gold color. Cool before serving.