Monday, September 22, 2014

Why Meatless Monday Matters

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of Manhattan yesterday demanding immediate action on global warming by the UN delegates gathered in New York this week. The Climate March, the largest climate protest in history, attracted people of all ages and demographic groups — from grandparents to children, from NJ residents devastated by Hurricane Sandy to the rich and famous.

I have to confess that I did not make the journey. And I had a bit of writer’s block [and a bit of guilt] when it came to blogging for Meatless Monday today and sharing the tomato recipe I promised last week. I asked myself, “Does Meatless Monday matter?” 

It is easy to become discouraged when thinking about what actually makes a difference. Does it matter that you recycle your paint and batteries when you know others throw them in the trash? Does it matter that you try to use all your leftovers when you see how much trash can be left for pick-up on your block in a week? But, as my husband says, “How much worse would it be if no one cared, if no one did anything at all?”

Then, today’s weekly message/pep talk from the Meatless Monday Movement arrived in my inbox. 

It reminded me that the Meatless Monday Movement is playing a major role in the Climate Action events in New York City over the next few days and also reminded me why Meatless Mondays are important. You can read more here

So, before I tell you about Tomato Pesto, let me share some of the reasons why Meatless Monday (and thus, this blog) matters. 

Most of you know that Meatless Monday was started as an initiative to make people healthier. You can read about the many health benefits of cutting out meat one day a week here. Meatless Monday is also kind to your budget.

But, for today, the eve of the Climate Summit, let’s focus on the reasons why the Meatless Monday Movement is good for the planet. 

  • When you reduce your meat intake, you minimize water usage because the production of beef requires 1,850 gallons of water, while the production of vegetables requires 39 gallons of water. 
  • When you reduce your meat consumption, you reduce your carbon footprint because beef production creates 30kg of greenhouse gas per kg of food, while carrots, potatoes, and rice require .42, .45, and 1.3kg respectively.
  • You also reduce fuel dependence. About 25 kilocalories of fossil fuel energy is used to produce 1 kilocalorie of all meat based protein, as compared with 2.2 kilocalories of fossil fuel input per 1 kilocalorie of grain based protein produced.

And now, back to my originally scheduled post…Here is the Tomato Pesto recipe — easy to prepare, but requiring several hours of slow roasting. The aromas will have your tummy grumbling as it bakes.

Slow-Roasted Tomato Pesto 
from Edible San Francisco, August/September 2008

  • 4 pounds plum tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic (about 12 whole cloves), peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 6 large cloves of garlic (from California if you can find it)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, slightly toasted
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Position oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 225° F.
  • Line two large rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper rubbed with olive oil.
  • Slice tomatoes lengthwise and cut a V around each stem to remove.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and three of the garlic cloves.
  • Toss gently to coat.
  • Arrange tomatoes, cut side up. 
  • Place sheet pans in oven and roast for one hour. Then reverse the pans and rotate 180°.
  • Repeat every hour for 4-6 hours total.
  • Tomatoes are ready when they have reduced in size by at least half and have begun to caramelize.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • In food processor combine everything except Parmesan and pulse until combined but still chunky.
  • If freezing, omit raw garlic and Parmesan. [Add them after thawing.]

Serve the pesto slightly warm with thin rounds of bread or pita chips.

[Note: It has been such a wonderful year for tomatoes in my state that I couldn’t resist picking up another basket. There will be one more issue on the wonders of the tomato if you can find your way back here next week.]

One more thing: If you want to make your voice heard about the need to take action for our planet, you can add your voice here.

Happy Meatless Monday. Good health to you, and to the planet.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

No comments:

Post a Comment