Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22nd and will be celebrating its 45th anniversary. What are you going to do to mark the occasion? You can “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”; you can donate your cast-offs (old coats, glasses, cell phones, sneakers, ink cartridges, cars) to a charity; you can buy BPA-free water bottles and canned goods, or you can organize or participate in a “clean-up” day. How about…Eating Green? Yes, you should eat more green foods (nutrient powerhouses), but what we’re talking about is “greening” your shopping and cooking habits.
BUY LOCAL – shop at your local farmers market at least once a week for produce, dairy, freshly baked grains, honey, vinegar, and soap.
- You’ll get fresher produce, as it is picked at the height of ripeness.
- It’s trucked less distance, which means less greenhouse gases released into the air.
- It keeps your local farmer in business.
- Buy organic produce whenever possible to decrease your intake of pesticides and to increase bio-availability of nutrients.
- Be familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” – the produce with the highest pesticide absorption: apples, celery, peaches, bell peppers, nectarines, strawberries, cucumbers, imported grapes, imported snap peas, potatoes, cherry tomatoes
- You can choose conventional produce for foods that have rinds or skins that you will throw away (bananas, mangoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew). The “Clean 15” include (those with the least pesticide residue and safest non-organic to eat): onions, corn, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mango, papaya, eggplant, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and cauliflower
EAT IN SEASON
- Produce from the farmer’s market is always what’s in season.
- Skip foods that are out of season – they are often imported from other parts of the world (Australia, Chile, China) and are usually picked unripe. Also, the increased fuel emissions from being shipped from such long distances damage the ozone layer, contributing to global warming.
- Imported foods often come from countries that don’t have the same regulations regarding bans on chemicals and pesticides as the U.S.
- For more specs on the crops in season – www.nrdc.org/health/foodmiles
CHOOSE FISH WISELY
- Many fish species are in trouble due to over-fishing and ecological destruction (i.e., Chilean Sea bass, swordfish, ahi tuna)
- Other fish are unsafe due to high levels of mercury or PCB’s (i.e., tuna, tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel, shark, chilean sea bass, bluefin tuna)
- Choose wild fish over farmed fish.
- The best farmed fish choices are trout and striped bass.
- Choose more Omega-3 rich fish: wild Alaskan salmon, domestic mahi mahi, Pacific halibut, sardines, mackerel.
- Check out these links for a pocket guide with more information on the best fish choices: http://www.edf.org/documents/1980_pocket_seafood_selector.pdf
ENJOY YOUR FOOD
The most important thing you can do is to enjoy your food, from the shopping to the cooking to the dining experience. Food should activate multiple senses – the color (sight), the texture and temperature (touch), and the aroma (smell). Remember, you first eat with your eyes, so make sure it looks good.
Also, get others involved and make it a group experience. If you have kids, let them shop or cook with you. Maybe you want to get a group of girls over for an evening of fun. Or, it might be time for a romantic dinner for two. Whether it’s just another day or a special occasion, what we eat can touch us on so many levels and leave a lasting impression.
Happy Earth Day!