The Sustainable Cook
In newspapers, magazines and on sites all over the web, sustainability is the topic du jour. We read about farmers’ markets and Wal-Mart’s sale of organics in the same article. Eco-design affordable only by the affluent is discussed alongside grassroots organizations “greening” at-risk communities. A Google search for the word “sustainable” yields over 60 million hits. And still, most people don’t know what it means, much less how to apply to their lives. The most commonly used definition is preserving resources so that we can meet the needs of today without compromising those of tomorrow. I’m often asked how this applies to our eating and cooking habits. Is it about eating organic foods? Being green in the kitchen? Or is it supporting local farmers, producers, and businesses?
Ultimately, it all boils down to the words of the renowned agrarian philosopher, Wendell Berry, which have been emblazoned on the walls of many a Chipotle across the country: Eat Responsibly. It means that when we choose what to eat, we consider how its production impacts the earth and the people who live on it. It requires that those who eat meat, as I do, consider how the animals are raised. Are they confined or allowed access to pasture? It compels us to question what chemicals are used in growing our crops and how they impact the environment in which we live. Are those chemicals polluting our rivers, streams and oceans and negatively impacting our health? There is a social component to sustainability as well that obliges us to take into account the living conditions of the people who produce our food. Are they making a living wage or barely scraping by, working in dangerous situations? By taking these considerations into account, we can impact the food world in big ways, by making lots of good small decisions everyday. This feature, the Sustainable Cook, will provide information and tips to help you make these good decisions. If we all were to make even some small changes each day, we would go a long way to healing our planet.