Food and garbage updates

We had another “greening the apartment” talk last night, specifically about food. That’s one of the easiest places we could reduce both straight emissions and packaging, though it involves wading through a sea of attachment to various foods.

We’ve decided that if something is grown in the US or Canada, we will only buy it from the US or Canada (bits of Canada are, after all, closer to us than bits of the US), and we will get as much bulk as possible. The more local, the better, obviously, and much of it will be very very local this summer. I feel that the benifit of buying localish goes up pretty steadily the more local one gets, then shoots up for things grown less than about 100 miles away. Very local food not only reduces the amount of energy it took to get there, but strenthens local agriculture and community ties.

I’ve also sort of been wondering what “average” people throw out…we accheived 90% garbage reduction without even really trying. Is it because we don’t have kids? I get the impression that small people produce more waste than adults, or at least, it requires going further from the norm for kids’ lifestyles to not involve lots of waste. We also only rarely drink bottled beverages, which tend to produce a lot of waste packaging.

One source of heavy packaging are those tetrapack boxes of boxed soups and broths, mainly from Trader Joe’s, and bottled sauces. So Ben’s personal contribution to this household’s reduction effort will be to get a better handle on making stock and sauces. I approve of this plan greatly. It involves more Ben-cooking! Homemade sauces which are not long-term stable can be poured into ice cube trays and then transferred to freezer bags, and will keep that way pretty much forever.

Also on the packaging front, when we roast vegetables with a foil-covered baking pan, we will now take the foil off, wash it, and put it back in the roasting pan before putting the pan where it lives under the oven. That will let us use the same foil several times without having to find a place for it to go…roasting pan coverage is really our only regular use of foil. And yes, we could get a pan with a lid. But we don’t have a pan with a lid right now.

Depending on how we deal with our CSA produce, it’s looking like we could get pretty close to being able to shut off the fridge. We could keep things cool with a small chest freezer for long-term frozen storage and producing cold packs to put in a good sized insulated cooler. I don’t know if we’re actually going to do it, but it looks more feasible than I thought it was.

Oh, and Ben has just walked in with two quite tasty homemade energy bars. They’re a little too squashy currently, but we’re going to experiment with variations on that theme. :-) They currently contain rolled oats, TVP, carob chips, and dried cranberries.

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