Celebrating Earth Day year-round in the kitchen, grocery store and farmers' market

Most of our readers know that the Ecology Center dates its founding to the first Earth Day celebration back in 1970, so we are really geeked to see the different ways the holiday is observed all over the world these days.

earth day logoEarth Day this year was Monday, April 22.

“While we all know that we should be considering the earth in our actions every day, Earth Day does give us a reminder to recharge our initiatives,” according to Hillary Bisnett, director of the Ecology Center’s Healthy Food in Health Care program.

“The focus on my work is on healthier eating, and healthier means both for us as humans and also for the whole planet, “ Bisnett says.  “So in the last few weeks, I’ve been turning my attention to how can we think about Earth Day in our kitchens and at the grocery store and farmers’ markets.”

Here are five pretty easy ways we can change our food behaviors for the good of the earth, as well as a pretty tasty looking recipe that takes advantage of some of these principles.

  1. 1. Get a CSA share
    “Community-supported agriculture is an easy way for food consumers to support local farmers and eat local seasonal food,” Bisnett says. “With your purchased share, you will receive different food items depending on what your farmers have produced. Not only will this relationship help support local agriculture, it can also potentially introduce you to new produce you’ve never tried before, expanding your diet and food knowledge!”
  2. 2. Store in glass containers
    Eating sustainably doesn’t have to mean long hours at the stove, especially if you cook in bulk and store servings for later. But instead of saving in plastic containers, Bisnett suggests investing in a good set of glass containers, especially heat- and cold-resistant varieties that are a bit more Earth-friendly and last longer than plastic.
  3. 3. Reuse cooking water
    “Blanching and boiling vegetables causes some of the nutrients to leach from the vegetables into the water,” Bisnett says. “Why not use this nutrient-rich water to boil grains like pasta and rice or as a starting point for a soup?” You can even use it to water plants, as long as it doesn’t include salt or oils.
  4. 4. Compost vegetable waste
    “Instead of tossing your food scraps in the trash, take your leftovers and start a compost pile,” Bisnett suggests. Counter-top compost cans make it easy to add to your back-yard composter, for a great way to reduce landfill waste and enrich garden soil.
  5. 5. Read food labels
    “Read through all the ingredients and avoid products with lengthy lists that include unrecognizable items,” Bisnett says. “Search for words like ‘organic,’ ‘local’ and ‘whole’." But the best idea may be to eat more foods that come without any labels at all, like local produce, eggs and proteins.

Zucchini and chicken salad from Martha Stewart.comAnd after adopting some or all of these ideas, reward yourself with a taste of this zucchini-and-chicken salad from marthastewart.com that can be made without turning on the oven.

Zucchini-and-chicken salad 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch (about 8 ounces) spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Add zucchini; toss to coat, and let marinate while cooking chicken. 


2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken until golden brown and opaque throughout, about 7 minutes per side. Remove from skillet, and slice thinly. 


3. Toss chicken with zucchini mixture, spinach, onion, pecans, Parmesan, and mint. Serve.

EcoLink — April 2013 Ecolink
An online publication of the Ecology Center

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