The basic principles of Ecocucina
The main aim of these suggestions is to reduce the overall environmental impact in the kitchen. Every single day we make loads of decisions about food that have important consequences in terms of energy consumption, waste products and emissions that pollute our atmosphere, our soil, and our waters – both superficial and subterranean.
It’s not necessary to make a radical lifestyle change in order to reduce our ecological footprint – in fact it takes just a few easy changes to our daily habits.
Cultivate a small veggie garden – even on a small balcony it’s possible to grow tomatoes, eggplant (aubergines), radishes and carrots etc.
Give preference to local produce ( as opposed to produce that is imported into your country) and the shortest supply chain possible: a possible solution is to by directly from the producer, at farmers’ markets or through a Solidarity Purchasing Group (I know that in Italy, there are about 700 – of which 200 are found in Milan).
Where possible, choose organic/biodynamic ingredients and seasonal produce.
The types of food that are best for our health, as well as for the environment, are those that are unrefined: those foods, packed with vitamins and fibre, that require less natural resources for their production. When you buy cereals and legumes, buy in bulk – in line with what you know you are going to consume – in oder to reduce (plastic and paper) packaging.
Try to avoid, as far as possible, products that are packaged and instead choose those that are sold ‘loose’.
Base your diet on cereals, vegetables, fruit and legumes. Limit as much as possible foods derived from animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) and think seriously about eliminating these completely from your diet. If you’re not entirely ready for such a big change, then start slowly by substituting one or two meals a week with alternatives that are 100% free of animal products and by-products.
Try not to eat fish more than once a week and when you buy it, check where it comes from. Avoid buying fish where invasive fishing techniques were used, such as trawling with dragnets, and avoid species that are subject to severe over-fishing such as Salmon, Tuna, Prawns, Swordfish, Date Mussels (Lithophaga), Whitebait, Dusky Perch (Epinephelus guaza) and Cod.
Give preference to unrefined foods such as raw organic sugar, cereals and wholegrain flours.
Get used to eating raw food: as well as maintaining the nutritional value intact, you’d save energy. Try to make two meals a week without the stove or electrical appliances – you, your wallet and the environment will all reap the rewards!
IN THE KITCHEN
Use every single part of the ingredient and try to limit to the bare minimum what you throw away; the food scraps can also be frozen and used at a later date.
Use food scraps and leftovers to make other dishes.
If you make a recipe that calls for a long cooking time, make a double dose and then freeze or preserve the rest. Doubling the quantity doesn’t automatically double energy consumption – in fact it increases it by only 1,2 times. In this way, you can also save (time) and energy.
Instead of using plastic clingfilm and tinfoil, make it a habit to use re-usable containers, universal lids and covers etc and instead of paper towel, use sponges, cloths and dish towels.
Desiccate or vacuum pack in order to conserve food stuffs for longer periods. Invest in a pressure cooker for longer coking times and always cover with the lid when using traditional pots and pans.
Drink water from the tap;
Limit your energy and water consumption with shorter cooking times. Re-use the water you cook with;
Separate your biodegradable rubbish and, if possible, use it to make compost for domestic use (after 3 months in a compost-maker, you’ll have great fertiliser and after 6 months you’ll have excellent potting soil).
Avoid unnecessary waste. Throwing away food is like throwing away energy and money, not to mention the unnecessary pollutants that were emitted in producing that food – so pay attention to the date of expiry.
Try not to buy take-away food – it usually requires packaging whose only purpose is food transport and which inevitably becomes rubbish that must be disposed of.
Use the dishwasher only when it is full and then make use of the hot steam for cooking.
If you think of other ideas, write to me!