Helping Our Planet Plate By Plate
It’s getting more obvious each year that climate change is occurring faster than many people hoped. If of us are in a position to actively change the world, we can all most definitely change our corner of it. For starters, we can make a significant review of our daily habits, many of which contribute to our world’s environmental woes. Some changes are both pretty obvious and simple, like switching to energy saving LED lights. If you’ve been turned off by LED lighting in the past, take a look at the newer types, which are “tunable” to suit various needs, and are especially helpful for aging eyes!. We can also work on driving less, walking and biking more, and reducing energy use wherever possible (something we often think about but don’t always manage to put into practice).
What do we buy and how is it packaged? Reducing waste can make changes that accumulate beneficially, especially if we avoid single-use plastics and choose paper packaging over plastic. Aluminum cans are easy and cheap to recycle; indeed, they’re 100% recyclable indefinitely, whereas plastic bottles are more difficult and expensive to recycle than aluminum, steel, or glass. These and many other excellent tips can be found on Climates, a UK-based but worldwide social network that connects people who want to live lives that reduce the impacts of climate change. The group encourages thinking and experimenting and sharing carbon footprint-reducing ideas that are practical anywhere.
What’s On Home Plate?
If we first-worlders have been sheltered from drastic climate change, today violent weather shifts are affecting everyone everywhere. Island dweller like me definitely think about rising sea levels, nervously noticing the new tsunami warning signs posted in our Waterfront Park. Before long, all of us will also be more aware about food sourcing: We Americans enjoy unprecedented food choices, yet the more abundance we enjoy and the more we import, the greater our carbon footprint.
Here’s a sobering thought: The average footprint for people in United States is over three times the worldwide average. Wanna check yours? Try this: http://calculator.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx?tab=8
The fastest way to shrink our footprint is by changing our daily diet. If all meat eaters simply switched from beef and lamb to pork and poultry, each person would shrink a ton a year off their footprint. Over half of crops grown worldwide are used for meat animal feed, mostly for beef. While worldwide food production creates up to a third of all greenhouse gasses, by far the largest portion comes from raising beef. Hmmm.
Moving Towards Meatless
For some folks like me, making the switch was effortless. However, if your family is novelty-averse, try using pork and poultry in recipes where you might ordinarily use beef, such as stew. Use your usual beef-based recipe but substitute pork, and don’t say anything about it unless somebody asks. Most savory dishes can be made deliciously with turkey or chicken replacing beef, from burgers to meatloaf. Serve sustainably harvested fish weekly, perhaps starting with fish and chips and high-end fish sticks. Gradually mix in salmon burgers, fish tacos and grilled trout to gently nudge the family meal pattern away from red meat.
Many kids are far more open to eating vegetable-based meals when they’ve helped to grow and harvest the food, so get them into the garden early and often. If you already eat a meatless meal once a week, try having a weekly meatless day and ask the kids for ideas. If you get push back, have an open, exploratory conversation about climate change and choices. Experiment to find tasty, intriguing vegetarian recipes the whole family enjoys and simply serve them without comment. I’ve found that, if there’s lively conversation on interesting topics, many people won’t notice there’s no meat unless you point it out. So don’t.
Chewy, organic yellow corn tortillas make tacos especially toothsome; for the most intriguing texture, lightly fry the tortillas on both until they bubble, using just a slick of avocado oil. Crunchy sweet corn, velvety avocados, spicy peppers and onions make this high-satiety meal especially satisfying. Have all ingredients prepped so you can serve (or eat) these amazing treats straight from the pan.
Sweet Corn & Avocado Tacos
8-10 6-inch yellow corn tortillas
1-2 teaspoons avocado oil (or any high-temp oil)
1 cup salsa
2-3 ripe avocados, thickly sliced
few grains sea salt
2 ears sweet corn, kernels cut
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 fresh limes, in wedges
Brush a heavy frying pan with oil and place over medium high heat for 1 minute. Fry a tortilla on both sides until it bubbles, then spoon a little salsa over it. Add slices of avocado and sprinkle with salt. Now add some corn, red onion, peppers and cilantro, squeeze on a little lime and fold in half. Eat at once and prepare to be amazed! Serves at least one.
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