Posts Tagged ‘food’

posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How the COVID-19 Pandemic Helped Me Rediscover Local Markets

By Kelley Dennings

When Virginia’s governor enacted stay-at-home orders I didn’t run out to get toilet paper. Instead I went to the hardware store for all the container-friendly, spring-vegetable starter plants I could find, including celery, leeks, lettuce and broccoli. 

My motivation was to support my mental health during this time. I wasn’t worried yet about feeding my body. I generally keep a full pantry, and I had five to seven days’ worth of food, which I thought was plenty. 

I was wrong.

Grocery shopping used to be simple. I’m privileged to live in an urban area that has two large grocery stores within walking distance. But as the stay-at-home order wore on and my pantry started to look bare, those big stores weren’t yet requiring face coverings or social distancing, and their delivery systems had two-week wait times. 

I wasn’t comfortable going into the stores, and waiting for delivery wasn’t an option, so I had to get creative. 

The local outdoor farmers market, where I get berries and watermelon over the summer, felt like a safe place to buy my food. But initially farmers markets weren’t considered essential. Thankfully the farmers market was able to support vendors in making pre-order community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes available, complete with social distancing and face covering policies during pickup. 

CSAs are a great way to support local farmers, but it meant that I didn’t get to pick exactly what I wanted, as I used to. I received a lot of potatoes and onions, but for the first time I also got kalettes, a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. And I thoroughly enjoyed my new discovery once I figured out how to prepare them in the oven with a bit of olive oil. 

Because of the limited selection in my CSA box, and because I needed more than just vegetables, I started looking for stores closer to home where I could make quick stops to fill in what I needed. My next shopping excursion was to my local corner bodega. 

I hadn’t shopped there in the past because they have a smaller selection, but I found they had the fresh fruit I was craving and all the essentials. (Except toilet paper — but by that point, no one was carrying TP). As I paid for my purchases, I was pleased to see that it also offered personal protective equipment (PPE) like face coverings, gloves and checkout shields for the workers. 

As time went on, I purchased a quart of homemade potato salad from my local deli, the best loaf of sourdough bread I’ve ever had from my local bakery, and extra salad dressing and cookies from my favorite local restaurant (where I also got takeout for dinner). The lettuce I planted at the start of all this has already been harvested, and it won’t be long until my celery, leeks and broccoli are fully grown. 

I’ve come to appreciate how fortunate I am to have so many options in my community. Before COVID-19, getting food from multiple sources seemed inconvenient, but it hasn’t been. I do all my errands at one time, wearing a face covering and using social distancing practices. And I get to support local businesses at a time when we’re realizing just how important community is.

While I haven’t gone into a large grocery store chain yet, I did go to my local health-food store. As someone who’s lactose-intolerant, I craved my plant-based cheese, sour cream and cream cheese. While I could’ve gotten by without them, comfort food can help mental health

I went to the store just before closing, with my face covering, to stock up on my plant-based alternative foods and other essentials I couldn’t find in smaller shops. But still no toilet paper.

I was eating well, but starting to think I’d never find toilet paper. Remember all those potatoes and onions from my CSA box? Come to find out the long-lost art of bartering is back. I was able to swap potatoes and onions for rolls of toilet paper with my neighbor. 

None of us knows exactly what the new normal will look like, and I acknowledge that not everyone has access to the same options I do. When I think about life after COVID-19, I’m eager to get back to the gym and eating dinner out. 

But when it comes to grocery shopping, I plan to continue to support my local economy. I’ve reconnected with sharing and bartering, sustainable consumption, and food that’s made by people who care about the community as much as I do.  

Kelley Dennings is a campaigner with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity working to address the connection between human population growth and consumption and their threat to endangered species and wild places. Prior to the Center, she worked for multiple government agencies and nonprofits focused on recycling, forest conservation and consumption. 

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on New research shows Americans are willing to eat more plants

By Sabrina Scull

Earth Day Network (EDN) and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) recently released a new research report, Climate Change and the American Diet, which looks at Americans’ perceptions and attitudes of plant-based diets and climate change. The research release was hosted at the National Press Club, featuring an engaging panel discussion and a fully plant-based breakfast – an unconventional request of the Club’s caterers, but one that they embraced wholeheartedly.

Many of us in the environmental community, especially those interested in climate issues or food sustainability, are familiar with the issues surrounding our food systems and how they exacerbate climate change. The report authors were interested in learning more about views outside of this echo chamber, looking to draw from a wider representation of American viewpoints. Climate Change and the American Diet analyzes data from surveys of 1,043 American adults of various backgrounds (ages 18 and older). The vast majority of survey participants (94%) described themselves as neither vegetarian or vegan. However, at the same time, 94% expressed a willingness to eat more fruits and vegetables and consume a more plant-rich diet. On top of that, more than half shared a willingness to eat less red meat.

In addition, more than half (51%) of those surveyed indicated that they would be interested in eating more plant-based foods if they were better able to understand the impacts of their food choices on the environment. The results also showed that 70% rarely or never talk about this issue with their friends or family. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported that no one had ever asked them to eat more plant-based foods, and more than half indicated that they rarely or never hear about the topic in the media.

The report also shared common barriers to adopting a more plant-based diet, including a lack of knowledge about which plant-based foods to buy, and most importantly – price. Just under half of the survey respondents believe that a meal with a plant-based main course is more expensive than a meal with a meat-based main course. Accordingly, 63% of Americans shared that they would choose more plant-based foods over meat if they cost less. 

It is a common misconception that plant-based foods cost more than their meat counterparts. Indeed, as YPCCC Director Anthony Leiserowitz explained during the research release: “Most plant-based foods are actually cheaper.” This is especially the case with protein sources such as beans, lentils, nuts and even tofu. 

Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that many people in this country struggle with food insecurity and their dietary choices are limited by distance to grocery stores and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. We must amp up the conversation about tackling this inequality and hold our elected officials responsible for breaking down barriers to healthy eating.

There is clearly a great opportunity to share resources with the general public to increase their understanding of how their food choices impact our planet. Overall, it is apparent that we need better communication about these issues, and fast, as our current food consumption is unsustainable in this growing world. 

The first step as environmental advocates is to look critically at our dietary choices and think about how we can eat better for the planet. From there, we can examine why we hold certain perceptions and preferences, then have more honest and open conversations about the impact our food choices.

The Foodprints for the Future campaign at Earth Day Network is working to create widespread awareness of how our food choices impact the environment. We encourage individuals and institutions to #eatmoreplants to help fight climate change with diet change. 

Please visit the Earth Day Network website for more information about the research and to download the full report.

Sabrina Scull is the Food and Environment Campaign Coordinator at Earth Day Network. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies – Ecosystems from Binghamton University and a Master of Science in Environmental Conservation from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sabrina enjoys yoga, cooking delicious vegan food, and making music, particularly with her a cappella group, Makela.

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on How to make your kitchen more eco-friendly

By Christy Halvorson Ross

We are in a 24/7/365 battle globally and locally to reduce our carbon footprints, reverse climate change, and improve the health of the Earth.

There are so many ways to contribute on an individual level to a healthier planet…on the roads, in the grocery store, with your consumer habits, and your recycling practices. You can also make a huge impact on your environmental footprint in your own kitchen.  Read on to find out how.

  1. Reduce your food packaging

Shopping at farmer’s markets or being a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member are the best ways to reduce your food packaging. If you bring your own bags to the farmer’s market, then there is zero packaging between the farmer picking the produce and you putting it in your refrigerator.

The DC area has a plethora of incredible farmer’s markets, many on the weekends and some during the week. Make visiting them your ritual!

With CSAs, you can support farmers directly by purchasing a share for a season or a year. Check out this great list of area CSA’s

As much as I love the produce at Trader Joe’s, I don’t love their food packaging. Many of their items have a cardboard base and then are wrapped in plastic. Whole Foods is a bit better with labels and twist ties on most of their produce.

Wherever you shop, make sure to bring your own produce bags.

If you are a fish or meat eater, you can also bring your own container to the deli/fish counter. Stash one in your bag and have it weighed before the food is put in. This is a great way to reduce your use of plastic.

2. Produce less food waste

Food waste is a big one in the kitchen. At Little Green, we love to come up with ways to use every little bit of the food you have. Following are a few fun tips that ensure you will never need to throw produce away.

  • Veggie stir fries

When the spinach and mushrooms that you had grand plans for begin to look like they may have a day of survival left, it’s time for a stir fry! Saute some onions and add just about any other thing you’ve got in your fridge. Throw in some sesame oil until it’s full of flavor and tender. You can always add coconut milk or hot sauce, and garnish with chopped nuts and cilantro or flat-leaf parsley.

  • Carrot-top pesto

Chop up those amazing carrot top greens from your farmer’s market carrots, and add them to the Cuisinart with pureed walnuts or almonds and some olive oil and salt for a delicious pesto. No recipe needed! Play with the flavors and textures.

  • Smoothies

Are those fresh berries about to go? Throw them in the freezer in a reusable bag (have you heard about stasher bags?) and use them for your next breakfast smoothie.

3. Choose sustainable foods

I have been delving more deeply into the future and the sustainability of food on our planet. Today, we have 7.5 billion people on this planet and 2 billion of them are hungry. By 2050 we’ll have to feed more than 9 billion people. We are discovering foods that require less water and farmland to produce, are grown efficiently, and are highly nutritious. A few examples include:

  • sunchokes [What are sunchokes, you ask? They are also known as Jerusalem Artichokes. They have so many nutrients, fiber, and even protein, and are so easy to grow….we need to start integrating them into our diets more! Check out this elegant salad or main dish that will wow your guests using these inexpensive, modest little gems.]
  • legumes (lentils, beans)
  • dark leafy greens (dandelion greens, kale, swiss chard, beet greens)
  • squashes (delicata, chayote, honeynut)

If you can build these three habits into your routine, you’ll make a big difference for this planet we live on. Have fun with the variety of veggies you get at the market or CSA (and check out our farmer’s market guide here) and enjoy the health benefits too!

Christy Halvorson Ross is the founder of Little Green, which creates sustainable and nutritious recipes, and offers healthy living and plant-based cleanse programs, including food delivery, right here in DC.

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fight climate change with your fork

The holidays are almost here — which means that the season of eating is about to begin! DC EcoWomen board member Erica Meier shares how you can make a difference for our planet during this holiday season by choosing to eat a plant-based diet.  

By Erica Meier

The international scientific consensus is clear. Report after report paints an alarming yet sobering scene: Global warming is real, it’s happening now and human activities are largely to blame. 

The forecast is bleak: Worsening weather extremes and severe storms, disease outbreaks, altered coastlines, and more, with negative consequences on human health, particularly those in impoverished or marginalized communities. Specifically, according to Oxfam, women around the world, including in the US, will continue to be disproportionately affected by climate change. Which is why climate action must engage and benefit women and girls.  

As alarming as this message is, however, it’s not new. There’s been growing scientific consensus on this topic for years, if not decades, with environmental advocates and others waving red flags the whole time.

The good news is that there’s something more immediate and tangible we, the people, can do right now that will have a lasting collective impact: Eat plants.

There is widespread agreement in the research community, including reports from the United Nations, that raising animals for food is a leading cause of pollution and resource depletion. One of the most important actions each of us can take to reduce our environmental footprint is to choose plant-based foods. 

For example, did you know:  

  • It takes 420 gallons of water to produce just one pound of grain-fed chicken? 
  • The amount of manure produced on factory farms is three times greater than the amount of waste produced by humans — and there are no sewage treatment plants for animal waste? 
  • The production of animal feed, including pastures for grazing, takes up almost 80% of the world’s agricultural land resources?
  • The cattle industry is responsible for 80% of the forest clearing in the Amazon? 

In addition, hidden cameras are routinely capturing the immense suffering forced upon billions of animals each year behind the closed doors of the meat, egg, and dairy industries — and more recently the aquaculture industry.

Imagine how much more efficient and sustainable our food system could be if we ate plants directly rather than funneling them through farmed animals. A recent report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences put a number on it: the production of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy is two- to 20-fold more nutritionally efficient per unit of cropland than our current resource-intensive animal-based system.

As stated by the United Nations in 2006: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.” In 2010, the UN further declared that “a substantial reduction of impacts [from agriculture] would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change away from animal products.”

More recently, a lead researcher on a report published in Science summed it up in The Guardian by concluding: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth … it is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

And yet, the herbivorous elephant in the room remains largely ignored in discussions about how to fight climate change. The answer is literally in our hands: We can use our forks! 

As we continue to work towards policy change and corporate reform, we can also take direct action by diverting our monetary support away from foods that are destroying our planet and causing animal suffering, and instead green our diet with more plants. 

Without a doubt, our food choices matter. Every time we sit down to eat, each of us can stand up for the planet, our health and animals. We can start today simply by making our next meal a plant-based one.

Erica Meier is a DC EcoWomen board member. She is also the president of Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization that hosts the annual DC VegFest and promotes plant-based eating a way to build a kinder, greener, and healthier world for all.

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A few tricks to green your Halloween treats

By Erica Meier

For children and adults alike, Halloween is all about the treats. Fortunately, we’ve got a few tricks to share about how to find delicious eco- and animal-friendly treats. We’ve even got a few ways to turn your pumpkins into treats for everyone to enjoy, including our wildlife friends!

Buying healthy treats – for us and our planet

This time of year, stores are loaded with Halloween treat options – however, many of them aren’t healthy choices for our bodies or our planet. To find healthier and greener treat options, take the time to look for foods, candies and treats that are produced locally.

Also, be sure to check labels to see if chocolate and sugar come from sustainable sources. Or you can go online to purchase all natural, sustainable options, including pumpkin-shaped chocolates from the Natural Candy Store or chocolate bites from Sjaak’s (check out their pumpkin spice bites!)

All those candy wrappers…

Creating a zero waste Halloween can be challenging because most candy wrappers aren’t considered recyclable.

TerraCycle offers a Candy & Snack Wrapper Zero Waste Box. How does it work? You order the box, fill it with all your wrappers, send it in, and TerraCycle takes care of the rest for recycling or upcycling. (The program is free if you send in wrappers from energy bars, such as Clif Bar or Lara Bar.)

You can also minimize waste from individually wrapped items by looking for foil-wrapped chocolates from the bulk bin at your local co-op. Lollipops with paper sticks (instead of plastic) are another good option — a few to consider include Yum Earth Lollipops, which are non-GMO, no artificial colors or flavors, and produced in a LEED-certified facility, or Zollipops, which are are sugar-free and tooth-friendly, and Amborella Organics lollipops, which include seeds in the paper sticks that can be planted!

Offer treats without the sweets

Non-candy treat ideas include clementines decorated like jack-o-lanterns, halloween pencils, blooming bugs (recycled paper embedded with seeds, available in other shapes),  animal finger puppets, or friendship bracelets.

Make your Halloween bash eco-friendly

Throwing a party for family, friends or neighbors? Serve your treats with glassware and washable utensils or look for recyclable or compostable plates. Remember to put out recycling bins for bottles and cans.

And before you run to the store to buy more treats, try whipping up these fun and simple ideas that will satisfy the sweet tooth of any ghoul or goblin: Halloween apple bites, made with three ingredients, are easy to make; pumpkin pie pop tarts are a pocket of pumpkin, perfect for making everyone smile; and mushroom stuffed eyeballs are spooky, savory snacks, sure to catch everyone’s eye!

Pumpkins can be treats too

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins. If you’re carving Jack-o-lanterns, be sure to save those pumpkin seeds — they’re edible! All you need to do is wash them, spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt (plus other seasonings you might like, such as nutritional yeast), bake them for about 20-30 minutes and – voila! You’ve got fresh roasted pumpkin seeds. Or, simply dry the seeds on a paper towel and save them for planting in your garden. You can also toss them outside for birds and other wildlife to enjoy.

What about the rest of the pumpkin?  If you’ve carved your pumpkins, you can leave them outside for the squirrels to continue eating (since they probably already started anyway).  Once you’re ready to move on from Halloween décor, move your pumpkins into your backyard, under a bush, or near your compost pile. Breaking them into pieces will help them disappear faster.  Another fun option: Turn your jack-o-lanterns into a snack-o-lanterns by hanging them and filling them with seeds!

If your pumpkins are still whole and you’d rather eat them yourself, here a few different recipes to consider – for Halloween or Thanksgiving:

Looking for more ideas to green your holidays? Check out our guide to DIY Halloween Costumes from Your Closet!

Live in the DC-area? Here are some spooky sightseeing tips!

No matter how you celebrate, we hope you have a horrifyingly, happy Halloween!

Erica Meier is a DC EcoWomen board member. She is also the president of Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization that hosts the annual DC VegFest and promotes plant-based eating a way to build a kinder, greener, and healthier world for all.

 

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on How to Compost in a City

By Maggie Dewane, US Communications Manager at the Marine Stewardship Council

A friend recently asked for advice on composting in a city. I was a little embarrassed to tell her that I had no advice to give! My mom composted in our family’s backyard when I was a kid, but since moving out of the house and having only lived in apartments and cities, I assumed it couldn’t be done (easily) without a backyard. Realizing I must have assumed wrongly, I set out to investigate and here’s what I learned.

What is compost?

Compost is organic matter (mostly food scraps, leaves, twigs, etc.) that has been allowed to decompose and can then be used as nutrient-rich garden soil. The process of composting requires keeping the organic matter in an enclosed space (sometimes in a bin or a partitioned-off section of yard) and then, with proper management, supports the material so it may break down naturally, effectively becoming repurposed or reused existing, albeit discarded, material. There are many resources to teach you how to compost.

Why is it good?

Americans produce an average of 5 pounds of waste per day, around 30 percent of that is compostable food waste. By composting the material that would’ve otherwise been discarded, you’re keeping waste from landfills that can be reused in a positive and eco-friendly way! For example, if you’re an avid gardener, it will save money on fertilizer costs. If you live in a city, you’ll be part of growing contingency of cities that collect compost and reuse it for specific projects or outsource it to communities that want or need the soil for agriculture. Whether in your backyard or in a city, compost reduces the amount of methane gas emitting from our landfills, which is a greenhouse gas contributing to the overall warming of our planet.

How is composting normally done?

There are a variety of composting techniques from compost tumblers to vermicomposting (using worms that eat the material and break it down into soil, also requires the most effort  and maintenance) to pick up services and drop off locations, which are useful for city-dwellers like myself.

A useful rule of thumb when composting is, “If it grows, it goes [into the compost pile].”

Specifically:

  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Plants (dead flowers, weeds, grass, etc.)
  • Eggs and eggshells
  • Breads and grains
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Uncoated paper cups and plates (meaning they don’t feel waxy to the touch)

Less desirable compost items include dairy and meat products. While these items will decompose, they may invite unwanted creatures or molds into your space.

Composting in a city

First, get yourself a bin (Planet Natural has some options at the bottom of their page here) to keep your compost in – one that you can tuck into a cabinet or under your sink. If you stick to the above list of compostable items, the bin won’t smell awful, but a lid will be useful to contain any wafting as well as any unwanted pests commonly found in cities.

One neat bin option I’ve found is GreenLid (available on Amazon). The bin comes with a sleek reusable lid while the bin itself is made from recycled cardboard and can be thrown directly into a compost pile or reused if it’s relatively clean.

For city dwellers, the next step is to find out if your municipality offers a compost pick-up service.

See if your city or town picks up compost bins here.

If your city doesn’t, here are some alternative options:

  • Find out if your apartment complex or building has a rooftop or community garden. If so, it probably has a compost pile. If not, suggest starting one!
  • Sign up for Share Waste. It connects people who want to compost but can’t (because of their living situation or if they’re on vacation) with people who have compost bins.
  • Utilize your local farmers market. A lot of weekend farmers markets have compost tents. Take a walk through your local market to see if it has one (and buy some fresh, local produce while you’re there!).
  • Contact your city council and ask them to consider implementing a program that would collect compostable material from residents.

Like most efforts to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle, composting takes time and research, but it has benefits that can serve you, your community, and the planet, so why not give it a try!

Here’s more information from the US Environmental Protection Agency on composting.

Maggie Dewane is the US Communications Manager at the Marine Stewardship Council. Previously, she was the Press and Communications Officer to the Environmental Investigation Agency. She also worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the United States Senate. She has a Bachelor’s from Seton Hall University and a Master’s from Columbia University. Her hobbies include painting, writing, traveling, soccer and camping and hiking with her dog Argos. 

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on A Dietary Pattern for a Healthier Planet

Vegetable-based diets can be better for the planet.

by Joanna Pustilnik, Bodacious Nutrition

A condo building is going up in my neighborhood, and my husband and I were worried it might cause more traffic congestion. We already live by a highway, and I’ve read that can increase the risk of high blood pressure. But then I read the world is going to house 9.6 billion people by the time my baby daughter is thirty, and the condo suddenly seems like a very minor concern.  

Already, one in nine of us—or about 13 percent of people worldwide—don’t have enough to eat. That’s not fair. I like food. You like food. We should all have enough of it. As a dietitian (and a human), I’m perplexed – how are we going to feed the 3 billion more people that will share our space with us? We’ll have even less resources by then.

Food production would need to increase 70 percent to feed all our new friends. Globally, producing food already eats up 70 percent of fresh water and causes 80 percent of total deforestation. Ten billion acres of land across the globe – an amount the size of Africa – is being used to raise livestock.

We can’t increase our global food production ? we don’t have the space. Instead, we need to drastically change how we grow, produce, and eat food. The most powerful thing we can do as individual consumers is to eat sustainably.

Food security and sustainable dietary patterns

To feed our 3 billion new friends, we need to be food secure. Food security is when we have enough safe, nutritious food. A sustainable dietary pattern has minimal environmental impact but maintains food security and nutritional value.

A “dietary pattern” is essentially the way we normally eat. It includes our typical portions, combination of commonly eaten foods, and the variety in our habitual choices. To be sustainable, a dietary pattern should be healthy, shouldn’t decrease the biodiversity of an ecosystem, should be economically sound, and should optimize our resources.

Plant based diets such as the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and a vegetarian (or vegan) diet seem to fit this bill. Health benefits of these diets include lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and they boast a lower amount of red meat, processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Studies are repeatedly finding that diets high in animal foods are not sustainable.

Beef, in particular, uses a lot of resources and produces too much waste. In one Italian study, beef was the food tied to the greatest negative impact on the ecosystem while a vegan diet had the lowest environmental impact and greatest health score. Beef and lamb require the most fossil fuel per calorie of protein ? 250 times more than beans!

Here’s a graph from the World Resources Institute that shows the impact of various foods on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Notice animal-based foods use consistently more resources:

Here’s a graph from the World Resources Institute that shows the impact of various foods on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Notice animal-based foods use consistently more resources

Overall, agriculture is responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but 18 percent of this is due to raising livestock. That’s more than the transportation industry and all industrial processes combined – they only emit fourteen percent.

Another issue is that meat increases per capita land requirements while feeding less people overall. The grain we feed animals doesn’t go as far as it would if we just were to feed it directly to people, and we feed 40 percent of grain globally to livestock instead of our hungry 1 billion human friends.

Meat also produces a large amount of waste – methane and other gases as well as solid waste that pollutes land and waterways. A plant-based diet with a smaller amount of meat is making more sense.

Harvard and the European Union have both looked at sustainability research to develop diets. Harvard’s plate boasts more fruits and vegetables than USDA’s MyPlate, more whole grains, and focuses more on plant protein while limiting red meat intake. It also encourages milk and dairy no more than 1 to 2 times a day.

The European Union’s LiveWell for LIFE diet has been found to reduce GHG production by 25 percent compared to current intake. It too promotes a plant-based diet with a focus on more plant proteins than a typical person eats with no more than 1/3 of the diet consisting of foods from animal sources.

How we eat now

Currently, we are not eating in line with either of these diets. Most of us eat a Western-style diet that’s high in red meat, dairy, and processed foods (think packages, boxes, bags, and the center of the grocery). We include few fruits and vegetables, limited legumes and beans, and not enough whole grains.

We especially love our red meat.

In 2009, we ate 14 million tons of beef ? about 92 lbs. per person. By 2030, this number is projected to increase to 17 million tons. The average man only needs 56 gm of protein per day, but he eats over 100 gm daily! Demand is also increasing worldwide as countries become more industrialized.

Simple changes we can all make

First, we can shop locally. This limits GHG produced by the transportation of food from far away. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is also a smart choice, and not just for health reasons. Consumerism is powerful. We need to show our government that sustainable farming practices that maintain the soil are demanded.

We can also limit ourselves to our fair share, because excessive energy intake requires more energy use. We can also shop for fresh food to decrease waste from packaged goods. Also, we throw away 40 percent of our food. Eating more mindfully would help decrease this amount and preserve our vital resources.

And finally, eat less animal products. If just 10 percent of us limited consumption of animal products, enough food would be saved to feed 1 billion people.

That’s huge.

From a nutritional perspective, limiting meat would only promote positive health. We don’t all have to abstain and become vegans, but research shows any decrease in meat consumption increases sustainability AND improves decreases disease risk.

I like to call a plant-based diet a gracious diet. Include small amounts of meat if you like, but let’s remember to conserve. We can get everything we need while still being considerate of future generations. They’ll be hungry, too.

To continue supporting sustainability, DC EcoWomen is partnering with Whole Foods’ program Nickels for Non Profits through December 17th. On your next shopping trip, bring a reusable bag to Whole Foods Markets in Montgomery County, and ask to donate your earned nickel to DC EcoWomen. For more information, visit: http://dc.ecowomen.org/2017/10/31/nickels-for-nonprofits/ 

Looking for healthy and sustainable meals for the holidays? Kristin Bell shares her best vegan holiday fare at http://holiday.wholefoodsmarket.com/tips-and-recipes.html. I’m getting hungry already…


Joanna Pustilnik is a DC EcoWoman, dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and health coach with a tele-health private practice, Bodacious Nutrition, and a beautiful new baby daughter. She blogs at http://www.Bodaciousrd.com, and is passionate about sustainability and helping others find their best selves. She hasn’t been eating meat for about 11 years, but she admits she craved the occasional hot dog during her pregnancy. Contact her at [email protected]

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on The Benefits of Local Brew

blog-nov09

This blog post highlights the benefits of a sustainable local brewery.  DC EcoWomen does not endorse any particular organization but does serve as a resource to communicate sustainable efforts made by all.

By Megan Devlin

Across industries, the consumer trends are clear: people want local. In response to market demands, many companies are shifting business strategy in an effort to be more sustainable and to optimize community impact. While the beer industry isn’t necessarily known for its sustainable practices, a majority of craft breweries keep up with localization by focusing on their regional markets.

Some of the big players like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada have expanded beyond their flagships and opened brew sites in new markets across the country. Smaller outfits have rooted deeper in their communities — with the female-owned Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, Md., owning that through business as usual.

Denizens cofounders Emily Bruno and Julie Verratti deliver on this region’s demand for hyper-local, fresh beer by brewing three times per week only 75 feet below the taproom.

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Since opening in 2014, Denizens has worked to foster a taproom culture where customers get to know the brewers, owners and staff in a great social atmosphere to drink fresh beer. Denizens draft lineup includes five flagship beers plus five rotating seasonals. While the beers are produced in house, they reflect a global palate, with styles ranging from a Czech-inspired Pilsner to an English extra special bitter (ESB) to a tequila barrel-aged “petit” sour ale influenced by head brewer Jeff Ramirez’s earlier days crafting in Colorado.

The diversity of flavors, aromas and ingredients on the 10-beer menu creates opportunities for pairings with seasonal food items. Traditional pub fare like the burger and fries often pair well with the Born Bohemian Pilsner, while this summer’s spicy mango salad could be accented with the Southside Rye IPA or played down with maltier styles like the Lowest Lord English-Style ESB.

While the kitchen menu is seasonal not all of the products are locally sourced, a common practice that businesses implement to go “green.” Breweries moving in sustainable directions typically focus on partnering with local farmers for beer ingredients or by bringing production in-house, which is a more costly endeavor. Rogue Ales and Stone Brewing Co. have kept costs low by purchasing and leasing farmland, which in turn helps guarantee local farmers business or create agricultural jobs.

Smaller breweries don’t always have the financial resources to locally source beer ingredients like hops, which often require an advanced contract of two to three years and are grown best in regions like the Pacific Northwest, Europe and New Zealand. Despite these challenges, establishments operating under the brewpub model, where beer and food are produced in house, have more flexibility with local sourcing.

Denizens works exclusively with regional vendors for its kitchen items to further drive sustainable business relationships. Because the brewery doesn’t have a freezer on site, its Baltimore-based meat provider and local produce providers help ensure menu freshness.

To minimize waste in beer production, Denizens repurposes some of the grain used in the brewing process for the kitchen’s tomato spent grain toast, topped with pesto, mozzarella and a balsamic reduction. The rest is donated to a Maryland farmer who feeds the grain to his pigs.

Keeping its focus on the community, Denizens partners with the University of Maryland’s Graduate School of Fermentation, which grows a variety of yeast used for the brews: two sour/wilds, two for saison and hefeweizens as well as 3 different bacterias. The relationship is a win-win in that the graduate students get to work with commercial products while Denizens keeps costs low.

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Denizens community-oriented business approach also dovetails with their distribution strategy. Thanks to laws passed in both Maryland and DC, Denizens can self-distribute in Montgomery County and DC, whose border is just three blocks from the brewery. The further beer travels, the more expensive it is to distribute in terms of time, energy and labor.

Self-distributing breweries not only keep more revenue than breweries that go through a distributor, but the ripple effects of minimizing beer miles traveled include local economic growth, lower carbon footprinting and quality control.

“We know exactly where the beer has been at every step of the way,” Verratti said.

Denizens is conscious in identifying bars, restaurants and stores that carry local, independent alcoholic beverages. The neighborhood is also important. Republic in Takoma Park, located less than a mile from the taproom, serves as a perfect example of Denizens “trifecta,” which includes brand affiliation, efficiency, and the volume and speed of beer consumption.

“Our customers are their customers and their customers are our customers,” said Verratti.

Bruno said partnerships like the one with Republic helps Denizens carve its identity as a local brand.

“We want to expand our footprint in targeted ways,” Bruno said. “We’re not trying to be the Budweiser of craft beer.”

As the duo puts their heads together on how to sustainably scale their business, they also keep a pulse on what’s in front of them: beer and community. Over Halloween weekend, Denizens re-released Fear of a Black Beer, a coffee-infused blonde ale, in part to coincide with the brewery’s participation in this year’s annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk, which gathered nearly 700 zombie-clad humans on October 29 for a walk from Denizens to the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center for horror-film watching, ending the festivities at Quarry House Tavern.

“We try to do things to make ourselves really entrenched in the community.”

Megan Devlin is a Program Coordinator of Global Forums at Meridian International Center and was most recently the Editorial Assistant to The Atlantic’s Washington Editor at Large and Editor in Chief of AtlanticLIVE, the magazine’s events arm. Her journalism roots sprouted at Ithaca College where she was Editor in Chief for the award-winning campus newspaper The Ithacan. Megan also bartends at Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont Circle and contributes to DCBeer.com – and trains for marathons, in her spare time.

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by Jessica Wilmer

I am awful at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. There is something about them that screams, “Make ridiculous requests of yourself, then feel guilty when you can’t live up to your own expectations!”

So for 2016, I decided to go with something that seemed more attainable: reduce waste. More specifically, I decided to focus on food waste: both the food itself and related packaging.

Six R's are better than three

Six R’s are better than three

Waste has weighed on my conscience for many years now, and our “throw-away culture” doesn’t ease my pain. Sometimes it feels as if we make things just to throw them away.

Part of my resolution was to learn more about waste. Over the past few months, I’ve watched upsetting documentaries*, read eye-opening articles, and researched many amazing local organizations, including the Food Recovery Network and Hungry Harvest.

It might surprise some people that over 40% of the food produced in the US each year is thrown away and 23% of the solid waste stream comes from packaging and single-use containers. It’s become an epidemic that costs over $218 billion a year in the US alone.

While I have learned a lot through my research, the real lessons have come by making the conscious effort to stop and think every time I purchase or eat food.

A few lessons learned

3514710196_ba6d7b3a87_oSingle Use items are out of control

Have you seen that awful video of the sea turtle conservation group, Leatherback Trust, removing a single use straw from a sea turtle’s nose? Google it. It is a seriously devastating visual of what can happen to single-use products after their purpose is served.

On a typical day, Americans use over 500 million single-use straws. 500 MILLION. Just let that sink in for a second.

Always ask questions

While brainstorming ways to reduce waste, I wondered if it was ok to bring reusable packaging to the market for bulk items.

It turns out you can; all you have to do is ask! The customer service desk at the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods was more than happy to help me navigate their system. Turns out, bringing cloth bags and glass jars is a quick and easy way to get rice, quinoa, greens, and many other items while skipping the extra packaging.

Photo credit: Jessica Wilmer & Steve Milner of http://www.dcphotoop.com/

Photo credit: Jessica Wilmer & Steve Milner of DCPhotoOp

Check your trash

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Photo credit: petrr

I noticed that the majority of the paper waste in my home came from paper towels. It’s amazing how many of those suckers you rip off when you are learning to cook!

Luckily, I stumbled upon Bamboo paper towels. They are easy to wash out while you’re using them, and when they get too gross, you can throw them in the laundry with your towels. Some can be washed up to 100 times! Sustainable, reusable material? Definitely a win-win.

Going Forward

Be prepared

Single-use containers are everywhere, and our food service industry has made them almost impossible to avoid. However, my experience taught me that you will feel more successful when you have all the proper tools.

I carry a reusable, glass water bottle, coffee mug, and set of bamboo utensils every day. I also keep a set of dishes and utensils at my office, so I’m not tempted by single-use options. Every time I hear, “Grande Americano in a personal cup”, I feel like I’ve received a gold star.

You will save money!

A huge portion of food costs is in the packaging, so when you just buy the food you bypass that cost. Bonus! This summer you won’t have to spend $2 on a bottle of water at that hot-dog stand, and you’ll save a bit each time you bring a personal mug to your local Seattle-based coffee shop.

The Wave of the Future

Thankfully, food and packaging waste has come into the spotlight. Recently the government stepped up efforts that address this large and systemic problem. Individuals and companies are also realizing that food waste affects not only the environment, but also the economy and hunger.

If the momentum continues, I think that there can be a real change. We have already done a significant amount of damage both financially and environmentally, but we do have the ability to stop the damage from growing exponentially.

I may be just one person who made just one resolution, but for the sake of the environment, this is one I’m going to keep.

Jessica Wilmer is an aspiring blogger, vlogger, photographer, and activist. She currently works in finance and lives with her boyfriend on Capitol Hill. You can usually find them at the farmers market in their matching Patagonia sweaters looking for new veggies to include in their repertoire of vegetarian dishes.


* Recommended documentaries: “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (2013) and Morgan Suprlock’s “United States of Trash” on his series “Inside Man” (2015)

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By KC Stover

There has been increasing attention paid to the role of insects as a protein source for humans in the place of meat. Insects do not create the same climate and human health impacts as livestock and they can be raised on a vegetarian diet. Many cultures around the world enjoy insects as an integral part of their diet. There are over 88 countries where insects are consumed regularly and over 1900 species of edible insects worldwide.

Image: Leandra Blei

Image: Leandra Blei

The concept of eating bugs has received a lot of press lately. However, this is not a new practice. As the world struggles to keep up with burgeoning human populations, we are searching for new sources of protein. Insects require much less land to raise and are more efficient at converting feed to protein than most livestock. They also emit fewer greenhouse gases than livestock. The UN has been actively promoting the use of insects to meet our protein needs, and it is an area of major innovation in the food industry.

Currently, there is a $20 million industry around entomophagy in the US, and the concept has received widespread support. However, cultivating and consuming insects on a mass scale is not a simple solution. There are many questions about the real rates of protein conversion, best practices for husbandry and the ideal diet. Regulation has yet to become tailored to this industry and the market is still in its infancy. The Washington Post highlighted that high-density cricket farm operations are still governed by the same USDA regulations as those for livestock.

Some commonly consumed insects are crickets, mealworms, beetles, black soldier flies, butterflies and moths (mostly eaten in their larval and pupal stages), bees and wasps, ants, termites and grasshoppers. Apparently mealworms have a nutty flavor and ants and termites have a lemon flavor to them.

Image: Leandra Blei

Image: Leandra Blei

There are some very unique offerings for insect-based foods. Popular Science reported this month on several new companies, (with 30 insect-based startups since 2012 nationally) including, Critter bitters, Jungle Bar and Chirps (cricket chips) among many others. There are several manners in which insects are being brought to market and the most common is as a protein bar or powder. This powder can be used in a wide variety of recipes, including cookies. Time magazine recently released a list of recipes, including a recipe for deep fried tarantulas.

While insects provide a diverse and more sustainable form of protein than many forms of livestock, integrating them fully into our diet will mean learning to eat in new ways. A nonprofit called Little Herds in Austin, TX has taken on the challenge of changing perceptions and creating markets, and Open Bug Farm is an open forum for insect farming enthusiasts. As consumers and environmentalists, we are presented with the opportunity to help this industry grow in a sustainable way. It will be interesting to see if home production of insects grows in urban environments. An additional challenge is that of bringing production costs down to compete with conventional foods.

Some local DC restaurants, such as Oyamel, are serving insects on their menus. In addition, there is an annual event, the Pestaurant, where restaurants serve insects worldwide. Last year’s event featured a DC restaurant. We can hope to see more insect products on the shelves and I for one will be getting more used to the idea!

KC Stover works on programming for DC EcoWomen and on wildlife conservation issues. With a background in entrepreneurship and the environmental field, she believes that new businesses can create opportunities to address some of our most challenging problems.