Waste Not, Want Not

28 07 2009

The thing about getting our food from a farm, or more accurately, from a CSA, is that we have no say over what gets dropped on our doorstep each week.  While we view this as a good thing generally, we do find it challenging to use our produce when, say, a peach bomb is placed on our doormat.

Because reducing food waste is an important part of our food challenge, and because I think we’ve been guilty of much waste in the paste, Isaiah and I have worked to purchase only what we need in grocery stores. But nature is not so obedient, and our farm share of fruits and vegetables is more of the “when it rains, it pours” nature.

So after a lovely European vacation, I arrived home to find loads of peaches. Everywhere. On the counter, in the refrigerator, in paper bags, on the dining room table, by the doorstep, even on the sofa.

I really can’t complain. Peaches are delicious and fragrant this time of year, but not so much in January.  I’m working to use them while they’re in season, but I’m finding that two people can’t measure up to this harvest of nature’s best.

I tried. In two days’ time, I ate a few fresh; I had one sliced up with my morning corn flakes. I cut a few up into a fresh salsa, and I sliced more into Sunday morning pancakes. I even garnished those peach pancakes with extra peaches. Actually, truth be told, it was a team effort—Isaiah and I worked together to eat and cook those fruits. But it wasn’t enough. I was left with a surplus that was going to go bad soon, so yesterday I decided to preserve them.

I don’t have the supplies for home canning, and while I’d like to learn to do that someday, now isn’t the time. We’re both busy with travel and work at home, plus, we’d rather not spend the money on canning supplies if we can find an alternative. And so we did.

DSCN1479I froze the peaches in orange juice, after slicing them.  I also froze apricots, and I removed the skins from them before dipping them in the orange juice bath and laying flat to freeze. From what I’ve read, the orange juice should serve as a preventative to discoloring and darkening. It should also help preserve the peaches and their flavor.  We’ll see. I’m planning on using them as ingredients in smoothies this winter.  I can’t imagine they’ll be worse than those mealy canned peaches that go on sale in darkest winter. And at best, (and this is what I expect), they’ll be a little tangible burst of sunshine on a dark and dreary day.

By Climate Pilot Mya Akin

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Rediscovering Farmer’s Markets

27 07 2009

In our third week as Climate Pilots, our habits around food are changing quite easily. We’re following our five simple rules:  eat local foods, buy fresh foods, buy organic when possible, eat less beef and generally eat foods lower on the food chain. The result? Better tasting food and better for us.

Delicious cherry-tomatoes from Red Rake Farm in VirginaMy first discovery, or re-discovery – local farmer’s markets. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to one, so I was thrilled to see the fresh vegetables and fruit. The cherry tomatoes melt in your mouth! Fresh corn, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, in addition to fabulous fruits – the peaches and blueberries are perfect right now.

 

Fresh baked bread and cheese at the Arlington Courthouse Farmer's MarketThe market also has fresh locally made breads, everything from loaves  and rolls, to coffee cakes, apple-cinnamon bread, sticky buns and fresh cherry pies. Much better tasting food than anything I’ve found in stores. I was pleasantly surprised to find items I had never seen in a farmer’s market: zesty chipotle spiced cheddar cheese and smoked gouda from a Virginia farm, fresh yoghurt with honey, fresh mocha ice cream from Middleburg Virginia, a local farm that provides a dozen varieties of mushrooms large and small, fresh honey, locally made jams and preserves, and my daughter’s new favorite, blueberry jelly with honey.

 

Our second discovery: we don’t need meat every day. The American culture seems to focus meals on meat – parties always include bar-b-qued chicken, pork or beef, hamburgers or the like. Even lunch generally includes a sandwich with meat, and breakfast often includes bacon, ham or sausage. Why so much meat? And some meats are much worse than others in CO2e. Beef has 17 times more CO2e than the equivalent amount of chicken. The reason is that not all greenhouse gases are created equal; some are far more harmful than others. Methane, which cows produce a lot of, is pretty bad stuff.

We had no idea that 140 grams of beef produces 170 of CO2e (equivalent carbon dioxide). The same 140 grams of pork produces 35 CO2e, while chicken produces only 10 CO2e, and beans even less, 4 CO2e. For a family of four, eating beef 3 days a week would result in 2250 CO2e (700 grams or about 1.5 pounds of beef, resulting in 850 CO2e, per meal); dropping to one night of beef and two nights of chicken would result in 950 CO2e. That’s a 58% reduction – a REAL difference.
Substituting chicken for beef completely results in a 94% reduction in CO2e for the same amount of food. Beef is an easy habit to break. Now that we know, we’ll be embarrassed to eat beef.

Our new habits: With our new awareness about the CO2e from meat, we’ve cut out meat for breakfast, eliminated beef altogether, and dramatically reduced meat consumption for lunch and dinner. I’ve switched to only vegetarian for lunch and, as a family, we only chicken, turkey or fish for dinner about 3 nights a week. And honestly, the food is better and we feel like we’re eating healthier.

I hit the farmer’s markets on Thursday and Saturday mornings, which carries us through the week. We buy all our fruits and vegetables, cheese, yoghurt, jelly and honey, and most of our bread at the farmer’s markets. Our new meals may consist of grilled eggplant or squash with goat cheese, a salad, bread and fresh fruit for dessert. My favorite lunch is hummus with fresh tomatoes and cucumber in a pita. My daughter Lee loves a veggie wrap: using a soft tortilla, she spreads some cream cheese, then adds cucumber, tomato, with salt and pepper. My son prefers tortilla with melted cheddar cheese and tomatoes on the side. Climate smart eating is delicious!

By Climate Pilots Kathy Harman-Stokes





Recipe: Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad

26 07 2009

WatermelonOur garden is going like gang busters!  We chose items that we know we would use–cucumbers, tomatoes, egg plant, melons, pumpkins, peppers, corn, spaghetti squash, beets and a variety of lettuce. We planted late, so most things are not ready yet, but the arugula is and we had a yummy salad with our chicken last night.

 

 

Recipe:
Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Glaze
Bon Appétit | July 2009
by Fred Thompson

Yield: Makes 8 servings 

  • 1 5-ounce package baby arugula
  • 8 cups 3/4-inch cubes seedless watermelon
  • 1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar glaze

Arrange arugula over large platter. Scatter watermelon, then feta over. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with pepper.

Ingredient tip:
Balsamic vinegar glaze can be found in the vinegar section at many supermarkets. If unavailable, boil 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan until reduced to 3 tablespoons, 6 to 7 minutes.

By Climate Pilots Jane and Roy Rathbun





Home Again

23 07 2009

I’m home, after 10 days in Europe. I had a wonderful time just being a tourist on vacation, but I had an even more wonderful time meeting, dining, and sharing ideas with several of the Kalmar climate coaches while in Sweden.  I have so many thoughts to share, but for now, I’ll begin with writing about being home.

That’s right. After a fabulous vacation, the first thing I’m going to write about is being home.

I’m still dealing with some jet lag from my travel, so today I woke early. I realized that I needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store for a few essentials. I combined this trip with a few other necessary errands, so I don’t feel badly about driving…although I might once we move on to the transportation challenge!

I know we’re still on track with this eating local challenge. Isaiah and I continue to enjoy our farm and dairy deliveries.  Since the summer fruits and vegetables are really rolling in right now, we’ve been able to cut our grocery store shopping down to less than one trip per week. We’ve been living well on pantry goods and farm deliveries. Today was no exception—it was the first grocery trip in about two weeks for our household.

I thought I’d share with you what I purchased today. You might note that I made a few missteps, though I like to think of those as products of jet lag rather than thoughtlessness. I suppose the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I was tired, but I should have been a bit more thoughtful. I bought a Diet Pepsi Max, which is a super-caffeinated version of diet soda (I don’t drink much coffee at home, but I loved the Swedish coffee breaks which Wikipedia says are called fika-paus, so rather than rush out and purchase a coffeemaker, I opted for caffeinated chemicals-yum!), and I also purchased some chocolate dipped frozen bananas as a quick and cool summer treat. I didn’t think about the better choices I might have made with those products until I unpacked my reusable shopping bags at home. That’s when it dawned on me that imported bananas and individual sodas are probably not the most eco-friendly impulse purchases I could have made. Still, I tried.

FoodAs I shopped, I remembered that the less-processed foods are better, but I did need some staples such as mustard (brown and yellow), corn flakes, powdered milk (now that I try to bake more of our bread products, I’m finding many recipes that call for this), microwave popcorn (not the best, but not the worst–and a good, quick snack for us), kosher turkey (will try to order local kosher turkey from the butcher, but it was too much for my fatigued brain to handle this morning), potatoes (not on this week’s farm delivery list), and dill (unfortunately, the dill on our balcony succumbed to what I optimistically like to call “failure to thrive”).  You can’t see the tea that I bought, but if you could, you’d notice both the fair trade and organic seals on the package.  Thanks to Rolf and Birgitta for making me aware of these certifications.  At left is my grocery trip for our household of two.

VeggiesToday’s shopping was made much easier by the fact that we got our weekly share of farm produce as well. Since Isaiah and I are a household of only two, we have opted to receive a half share of produce from the farm, so what may look meager to you is actually very generous for us.  Yesterday, Isaiah harvested two perfectly ripe tomatoes from our balcony planter, and now we have quite the complement of fruits and veggies at home.  From the farm we have a mother lode of peaches, with two different kinds represented. We’ve got a summer squash, a giant zucchini, a cucumber, and a head of cabbage.  Above is this week’s fresh fruit and veggie allotment.

Isaiah and I were talking last night, and we really do believe that the changes we’re making as a result of Climate Pilots will stick with us. And that’s a good feeling.

by Climate Pilot Mya Akin





Making Informed Choices

23 07 2009

We were at the beach all last week, and had time to be thoughtful about meal preparation. On our first day I took my daughter and her friend to the grocery store with me. I asked them to help pick out some fruit, at first I gave them no restrictions, they came back with grapes, blueberries, strawberries and clementines. They all seemed like reasonable choices, until I read the packaging, clementines from South Africa–that seemed like an awfully long way to ship fruit. I told the girls we could not get them and that we should look for a substitute from a local source–it turned into a game and they soon had returned with more seasonal choices from the region! Success.

It really only took a few seconds to make a more informed and environmentally conscious choice, that had no negative affect on the quality of our life. I find myself reading all the produce labels searching for those from local sources. I would expect this to be relatively easy especially as it is summer and produce is plentiful in the surrounding area. Surprisingly local grocery store sources do not carry many local choices.

This week we will have time for the weekend farmers market and I am looking very forward to building menus from our community providers. We will also track our consumption habits and food receipts. I will be very curious to review the results!

By Climate Pilot Jane Rathbun 





Climate Pilots – part of Hero Central at WUSA

23 07 2009

Hero CentralWASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) — Most of our Hero Central segments focus on heroes helping people, but this is a story about heroes helping the environment.

Read more and watch video clip with the Climate Pilots at WUSA9





Climate Pilots Angela and Mya visited Kalmar

21 07 2009

On 18 July two of the American Climate Pilots – Mya and Angela – visited Kalmar while doing a tour to Europe. The Climate Coach family Rolf and Birgitta Möller invited us to their house to eat some climate-smart food.

At the terraceIn the kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mya and AngelaRolf and Angela