The lovely folks over at the Living Kitchen have issued a challenge. Head over to the post for all the details, but basically you obey by the following rules for all of October for a chance to win a fancy, locally made Valentine’s Dinner.
I absolutely love this idea, so I wanted to share it with all of you. If you aren’t local and therefore cannot enjoy the winnings, I still urge you to give it a go. In fact, if any of my readers complete the challenge and all the rules, please let me know, and I’ll send you a little goody myself. Just leave a comment on this post by 9 a.m. on October 1 (per the contest rules) to tell me you’re taking part, and I’ll check in again at the end of the month to see who was successful.
I also wanted to share some thoughts I had about the six rules, which I think are invaluable.
1. Buy it with thought. How can you make responsible food choices? Do you know if your chocolate, coffee, tea, etc. are sourced ethically? How about your meat and dairy? Buying from fair-trade, ethical growers and processors makes the world a better place. Another way of looking at this tenet is, are you buying these you’ll actually eat? If you hate Brussels sprouts, don’t buy them unless you know you will choke them down. (Well, I say don’t buy them at all.) Also, if you have the option of purchasing fresh veggies covered in plastic wrap or their non-packaged counterparts, go with the latter.
2. Cook it with care. Food is about fueling your body, but it’s also an act of pleasure. Otherwise, our tongues would not be able to delineate a vast array of different flavors, right? So respect the earth and your taste buds by cooking foods in ways that preserve their taste and usefulness. If adding a certain ingredient will make you throw some of the dish out, then don’t add it. It’s wasteful and disrespectful to yourself.
3. Use less wheat and meat. Wheat is a highly processed food, and all that processing has an adverse effect on the environment. Now I’m hardly a spokesperson for wheat avoidance, but try to explore other grains. Swap your morning toast for oatmeal, for example. Make a smoothie instead of a brownie. Meat is a major drain on the environment. I’ll stay away from my soapbox, but you can do a Google search that will return plenty of information. Factory farming practices also have a majorly negative effect on workers around the country, so use is sparingly.
4. Buy local foods. Even when the farmers market is over, you can still buy locally produced goods. Whole Foods stocks fruits and veggies grown locally when possible. Some states have year-round markets, and though Oklahoma does not, we do have the Oklahoma Food Coop. Also, don’t be afraid to try growing your own plants. If you have a place inside, you can try hydroponics (and yes, I do mean for food). Locals can visit Urban Garden for help getting started.
5. Serve just enough. We’ve all had the starving children in China used as a reason not to waste food, but as clichéd as it is, it’s also true. I read somewhere that Americans throw out 200,000 tons of edible food each day. Each day! Instead of stuffing yourself with more calories to keep dinner from the trash bin, just serve less. You’ll feel less tempted to overeat, too.
6. Use what is left. If you do make too much, save it and eat it later. Leftovers are a way of reusing (as the three R’s of recycling advocate). In addition to being easier on the earth, they are very convenient. I almost always make extras of anything that tastes good reheated or cold. It saves time and energy.
Bottom line: don’t waste it. Find ways to reduce and reuse food. It’s better for the environment, gentler to your pocketbook, and more respectful to your body.
Please feel free to start some discussion in the comments section. I’d love to know what you think! And if you’re local, definitely go to the challenge post to sign up.