If you follow a zero waste and ethical lifestyle you might also often shop organic. But... should you?
Firstly, entering an organic supermarket might trick your mind that everything inside is healthy. Think again: organic really is not the synonym of healthy. Even organic products can be full of unhealthy fats or full of sugars.
Secondly: you may think that is all ethical and will contribute to a better world. Well, wrong. Some ‘organic’ products have travelled for miles and miles, sometimes for no reason whatsoever as the same produce can be found in season growing nearby.
And organic labelling is not always that clear, with honey coming from mixtures of eu and non eu blends, just to give an example : what exactly does that even mean?! Where is it coming from ?
Not to talk about packaging - often as exaggerated and not recyclable, same as a normal shop..
Moreover, you may notice the same brands and big names in commerce through all of the organic shops, at least Europe-wide. This tells me that ‘organic’ is a capitalism-fuelling business.
I am somewhat lucky enough to have had some insights into organic certification. One thing for certain is expensive! So your local farm might still not use any chemicals or pesticides but may also not be certified as organic.
Moral of the story?
Don’t trust all that ‘organic’ shops throw at you. To be truly sustainable is important to use your brain and your own judgment.
We are increasingly being told that eating meat, paricularly beef, is not very compatible with a sustainable lifestyle. And some are putting all of their efforts into reducing its consumption. Which can only be a positive sign of change (yet I am a firm believer that this is only a small part of a bigger problem and vegan diets can also have profound impacts).
But does it mean we need to turn into a vegan world? No. And that wouldn’t be sustainable either.
Yes, I believe less is more and reducing our meat consumption overall to a few times a week rather than daily can only bring benefits (to our health too!). I also believe in variety, eating a bit of everything and trying new things. Aren’t humans meant to be omnivores??
So a recent article on ‘il fatto quotidiano’ (only available in Italian, sorry foreign friends!), telling people to try and eat nutria sparked my mind. If some species become pests and are deemed safe enough to eat, then why not try? If culling needs to happen then we might as well make the most of it and commercialise this kind of meats? Of course I am not saying free for all, take as much as you want. But, since culling is usually regulated, then let’s cull with more purpose.
I remember being appalled when one fellow PhD student told me his project was to find attractants for deers, to then cull them. At the time I didn’t know that ,because in Ireland there are no more natural predators, deers are a pest, a problem. Causing car accidents etc... so allowing hunting for this species with the purpose of eating and the secon benefit of keeping the pop low should be allowed. There. Not in another places, here Italy comes to my mind, where it happens anyway (illegally?), leaving wolves with less natural prey, forcing them to turn to sheep, giving wolves a bad name amongst farming communities...
So here we go- to make wild eating sustainable we should consider it in its context, but we shouldn’t rule it out. And if you cull it - try to eat it!
With all these, recent and not, talks on plastic pollution and reducing plastic, some of you dear readers may be convinced to start your zero waste journey.
While i want to assure you that it is a personal journey filled with daily discoveries, and not an overnight switch, I want to share with you part of my journey and a few key ‘ingredients’ of my daily attempts as a zero waster.
For some inspiration you can also find my Pinterest board, albeit not recently updated...
Step 1 - make your own
Whenever you can, make your own. Of what you ask? Of everything! From bringing a pack lunch, to making your own shampoo/deodorant/toothpaste.. basically everything that you would normally buy in a package - you can probably make a diy version
Step 2 - bring your own...
...mug/cup, cutlery, lunchbox, water bottle.. you get the gist!
Step 3 - use it till the end
Let’s say you slipped on point one and two, or maybe are just at the first arm with this zero waste thing, and you have packaged things in your house. Or maybe food that comes in containers. Whatever it is - use it until there is absolutely nothing left. This means opening up containers and rasping up the insides. You will be surprised! Do that with toothpaste for example and you will be surprised but you may get one or even two more days out of it. I do it often for yogurt which I get in big tetrapak containers, and I get a whole extra portion out of it! All left over on the sides and at the bottom..
Step 4 - find it another purpose
Jars can be reused to keep food over and over again, but can also be used for a nice candle or other decoration. Use your fantasy, and if you need inspiration head over to Pinterest or other similar sites and you will get plenty of ideas!
Step 5 - think twice about your scraps
Scrap parts, whether it is bones from your Sunday roast, the head of a fish or maybe that hard part of the cauliflower or the zest of the orange.. you can definitely use it in some alternative recipe! Make some broths, enhance flavour of jam..get creative in the kitchen!
Step 6 - ditch the use by date mentality
Lastly (at least for this post) use your sight and your smell instead of the sell by or use by date of your food. They tend to be way too conservative and more often than not the food will still be good! If you have been buying away from supermarkets and avoided buying in packages chances are your food doesn’t even have one of those dates printed so you will have to use those senses, but if you happen to have a carton of milk - just smell before throwing it away. Still good? Great! Seems a little off? Why not make some yogurt or cottage cheese?
Countless times I have been told that cooking healthy and sustainably is only for the wealthy,
that is too expensive to follow the sustainable life,
that people have family so how can they afford to eat well ?
Today’s recipe is not only yummy and full of goodness, it’s also zero waste and sustainable as well as being very very cheap (about €2.50 everything included for one very large portion or two smaller ones).
Ok, I am telling you in advance is not really suitable for the faint of heart and it’s not super quick
( it does require a little preparation).
Firstly, you will have to go find yourself a local fishmonger – ‘fishmonger?’ I hear you scream ‘but everyone knows that fish is expensive, how can this be a fish-based recipe?’.
Simple! We are using "scraps"
So, here goes the second task: ask them for some scrap parts. I got myself a nice fish head (full of meaty parts as well!) for a whole €0.50!!!
I added to it a couple of crab claws as they are very tasty, but see what takes your fancy. Some molluscs would make a nice addition.
Now, onto the preparation. To divide the meat from the bones I firstly gave the head a quick boil. It stayed intact, and took it out (keep the water though!!) and divided the good meat from the bones.
I kept the bones (more on this in a minute).
Then added the meat and other good parts from the head to the water, together with the crab claws, a can of peeled plum tomatoes, a shallot and a hint of chilli. Back on to cooking and it’s done!
With the bones that I previously kept – they are still full of goodness, so why not make some fish stock for later-on in the week? Just add water and boil for as long as you can (the longer the better but be wary of losing too much water) – then sieve the bones out and done! Freeze or refrigerate and you have some nutrient dense stock to add to your next meal!
Coffee.. as many worldwide I am part of the 'coffee-addicts': without my first morning cup I can barely make sense. But how can we coffee addict ensure that our addiction is as sustainable as possible??
First: choose fair trade
Those beans that give us so much pleasures comes from countries far away where workers can be exploited, so make sure not to contribute to their exploitation by choosing fair trade, look out for the symbol and remember that cheaper isn't always better!
Second: coffee machine
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