How to Start Cooking Green for Your Family

By Benjamin Castillo

These days going green is more than just a trend, it’s a movement. However, maintaining a green kitchen has become easier than ever due to strength in numbers. Options that were once hard to find are now in high demand, so everyone can join this rising tide. For instance, farmers markets and community sponsored agriculture can be found nearly everywhere (making it easy to get fresh food) and there also a number of online cooking schools that offer classes that specialize in teaching green cooking methods. Whether you hope to make sweeping changes, or just tweak a few habits, here are some goals to keep in mind.

Cook Meals at Home

It can be tempting to order take-out or buy preprocessed food since it often seems like cooking from scratch is just too demanding. However preparing meals on your own really isn’t as hard as it looks. Better yet cooking at home will also allow you to save a ton of money, eat healthier and be more environmentally friendly. The most important aspect of cooking at home is simply using fresh ingredients, after that, it’s just a question of finding a few recipes and getting to know the ropes.

Use Organic Meat – and Less of It

Animal products require more energy to produce since animals have to be fed before they are brought to the table. As such, making the effort to buy humanely raised meat as well as reducing your overall meat consumption is one of the most direct ways you can your lighten environmental impact. Many health experts also advocate choosing to eat vegetarian at least now and then.

Buy Local

The shorter the distance that food has to travel to get to you, the better. Try to use produce that has been grown in your own backyard (or at least locally) instead of buying products that are imported from another country, flown to a distant state for processing and then trucked to your town to be sold – using fossil fuels all along the way. Buying locally grown food supports your community, gives you fresh-tasting food and reduces pollution. These days, it’s easy to find a farmer’s market near you with practically everything you need.

Community Supported Agriculture

Commit to eating local food for the season by joining a CSA. A CSA is a group that agrees to share the produce of a local farm by all paying in at the start, and then receiving a percentage of the output each week. The risk is that some crops will be more abundant than expected, and others less, so that there could be weeks when you’ll learn to make tomato sauce or pumpkin soup, but it can be a great chance to expand your cuisine.

Start a Garden

Even without a backyard, you can maintain a few plants in a window box. Fruit-bearing plants like tomatoes or bell peppers, and leafy veggies like spinach or arugula are some of the easiest to grow. Growing your own produce is not only costs less, but is also extremely convenient as it is easy to pop to the window for another tomato – plus it’s good for the environment.

By implementing the changes above you will not only reduce your global footprint, but also create a healthier lifestyle overall. Buying from local farmers supports your community and eating freshly grown produce is great for your physical well-being. Likewise, lowering your meat intake can reduce your cholesterol, while cooking your own meals will save you a ton of money. The benefits are clear from the start even if you’re only shifting the rules for one day a week.

*Image courtesy of nuchylee.*