What is the most important aspect of travelling?
If you do a quick survey of your friends you will see that a popular answer is ‘food’.
Food can tell you a lot about a culture, and the further away you go the most weird stuff you are going to find. Which might end up in you eating insects, or interiors.. but if you feel adventurous…
With this post I don’t intend to put you off trying anything by any means, trying new things and having a full immersion in a new culture is indeed one of the reasons why we travel, so go on and take the plunge.
As a marine biologist working on animal-environment interactions,and focused on environmental changes driven by human activities that modify conditions for economic or societal benefit, I was surprised and intrigued to find out about bivalve gardening.
First things first:
What is bivalve gardening?
If you split the words you have your explanation. It refers to the gardening (= growing for personal use) of bivalve species, which are those marine animals with two (=bi) shell halves (=valves). Mussels, oysters, scallops, cockles..all form part of the big bivalve class.
Diets are a topic that is always discussed, a LOT. And while it used to be a gender unbalanced topic (mostly women were seen as always being on a diet) now it is becoming more and more equal on the gender playing field..
As the Sardinian shepherds protest this week against the incredibly low price they get for their milk, I want to discuss (or better raise some questions and drive some thinking) of the price of food.
If you are an affectionate reader you might recall that I already discussed this issue in the past , talking about tomatoes.
You probably heard it before. Climate change and human pressures (increased pollution, deforestation, harvesting, nutrient inputs, noise etc..) are the major culprits of 'biodiversity loss'.
But after reading a few articles and worrying for a while, it all washes up over our heads as we get on with our daily tasks. I mean, biodiversity loss might happen but it will not directly impact us on our limited time on this planet. Maybe it will our gran children, maybe our great great grand children. But hey, I am single and even the idea of children seem so far away. So I get on with my day, with this idea of biodiversity loss hiding somewhere behind my endless to-do list. Maybe to reappear in my job (I am interested in understanding what will cause it, how to slow it down, and how are organisms really impacted by changes in their environments). Nonetheless, if I, a person who is in the ecology science field, don't spend much of my day worrying, how can we get everyone else to worry and actually do something to slow down all of the pressures that we are putting in the environment?
Yes you can have your pumpkin and eat it too - how to make this autumn staple an integral part of your zero waste journey
Can I say that strangely this is one of my favourite seasons?
Changes in the air, in the colours and the season of my favourite food: pumpkin!!
I am so glad that pumpkin is locally grown where I live, so I have access to all different types and qualities. I love the ones that I can get at Franken fruit , and they come in all shape and sizes - from the most traditional orange ones, to those with the dark green skin to butternut types and so on.. and you can get mini ones that are perfect for single life...
But by the time you skinned the pumpkin and removed all the seeds you are often left over with a lot less to cook than you imagined lugging that heavy thing all the way home in your bike aaand a lot of waste.
So, how to make the most of your recent purchase ?
Of course by actually using the ‘scraps’ instead of throwing them to waste.
I have to say, since I get my produce locally and from a chemical free farm I do cook the skin. I wash it off of all the dirt and then just leave it attached in my recipes. It goes soft and adds some extra fibres to the meal!
If you don’t feel like it , keep the skin and reuse it to add some bulk and texture in soups. Or if you really don’t want to be directly eating skin then you can always use it for broth making.
At a last resort, instead of putting in the bin you can use it to add some great nutrition to your garden.
Pumpkin seeds coming inside of your pumpkin are exactly the same to those sold in those very expensive plastic packets!
Yes the ones that are sold for the most part have been shelled, and have to say the shelling process does not look so appealing and sounds like an enormous waste of time ...
But wait, in foreign food shops pumpkin seeds come with all of the shell! And .. turns out is very edible and also contains some yummy extra fibres that most people on a western diet are lacking!
You can then proceed to eat them raw (delicious by the way - I like to add a little bit of chilli powder and it makes for a perfect aperitivo to snack on while you are waiting for your pumpkin to cook ). If you are not eating them immediately then I would recommend to rinse them from the pulp and dry them. They are perfect to keep for a few days (I keep them in the fridge but maybe you can also keep them out) and eat as a snack!
Raw seeds have the advantage of keeping some of their nutrient intact but if you want a tastier snack or maybe you have guests, try roast them. Two ways of doing them, usual one in the oven or a simpler one: Add a little bit of oil on a shallow pan, proceed to shallow fry them moving the pan in a circular motion often to turn them around. Add seasoning of your choice , again chilli flakes are top on my list. You can add them as a topping to soup as well!
Something I have not yet tried but really want to experiment with (help and advice appreciated in comments section please! or get in contact), is to mill them and produce my own seed powder to add in more soups and smoothies. I will update you on the results ;)
Enjoy your pumpkin season with all of its health benefits (no pumpkin spiced latte don’t count, sorry ) and make it as efficient as possible so it can be guilt free :)
Next time you are in a crowded place (city, shop, train. Whatever counts as crowded for you) please take a look around with the aim to observe. Do you also see what I see? Not only we are becoming fatter and child obesity has become a big problem, but people don’t seem to care about each other and surroundings anymore either. We have sedentary jobs, we eat overly processed things and we are generally out of touch with our environment. Some of us follow diets (which then become lifestyles) that are meant to bring us back to our prehistoric selves ( think of the paleo diet or raw food trends), then kill themselves st the gym because that is what our bodies are meant to do.
I do somewhat agree that eating natural and unprocessed as much as feasibly possible (sorry I cannot give up cheese...), but I also think that we should change our general lifestyle little by littleto get closer to nature, understand it again, and find our sync.
While not all of us can yet afford to give up our jobs to get into full time agriculture and country life (a world entirely without cities would be weird and utopic right now), small changes can be done to fit our current way of life. How about skipping the gym to grow your own veg instead ( depending on the size of the land you get you will get to move your body how it was meant to move for sure!). Go on a fishing trip, or if you are s fun, go hunting ( responsibly). You can even find some local farms where you can go picking your own fruit and veg.
What are the benefits of this? Not just a return to what our bodies are designed to eat and do, gaining general well-being, but also could bring societal benefits too. Firstly you might get a good feeling, having ‘caught’ (or grown) something for yourself, and we all know that happy people are general better people! The fresh air might also help you want to be outside more, making you healthier and removing pressures on health systems, also being outside makes us less stressed which also makes us less prone to chronic illnesses. Further, you may start to notice nature rhythms, seasonality, notice the insects or plant timing, notice what the rain does and what are the consequences of extreme temperatures. So we may start to care more, which may lead to better choices in other areas of our lifestyles. Overall a win-win situation...
Let's be honest: it has happened to even the most advanced zero wasters to have to shop at a supermarket at some point or another.
Whatever the reason: busy week, finished too late for the organic or farm store opening times, away during the weekly farmers market, emergency shop..
If this is you, whether just once in a while or more often, firstly take a deep breath and forgive yourself. These things happen!
Then you can consider making your shop the more zero waste friendly as possible following some simple steps, and if you have more I would love to hear them
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