Monday, May 4, 2015

Meatless Monday: 5.4.15

Where has the time gone? In late March I published my 500th post, and since then I’ve only managed three more. It must seem I have become a slacker.

In reality, I was simply taking a much needed break. 

For part of the time I was on the West Coast, where I saw the sun—DAILY—and enjoyed the opportunity to ditch my coat, my hat, my boots, and even my socks for a few days! What was good for me was not good for drought-stricken California, however. There were no signs of a problem at the Mountain View Farmer’s Market, where strawberries were plentiful and huge, and a bargain, at least by East Coast standards. But we saw many dead street trees and countless scorched lawns, and the new water restrictions were definitely a hot topic in the media and around the dinner table.

The largest user of water in the state is agriculture. In February 2014 Mother Jones published a now famous story “It Takes How Much Water to Grown an Almond” complete with info graphics depicting how much water it takes to grow such popular crops as almonds, strawberries, and broccoli. The amounts are staggering. The almond has been taking much of the bad rap, but stories in NPR’s blog The Salt from April 12 and April 16 point out that there are many additional culprits, and many sides to the story.

What is indisputable are two things:
  • Agricultural crops require a tremendous amount of water.
  • Despite the drought, new crops are being planted in areas not planted before.

As consumers we need to respect the food we buy — to be mindful of the resources need to grow our food, of the farmers who raised it, and the energy consumed to get it to us.

More important than whether a food is local or has traveled a long distance, or whether it is organic or GMO, is whether we will actually use it if we bring it home. There is no excuse for wasting food or water.

What can we do?

We can start with some small steps.
  • Last year I compiled a number of suggestions for cutting down on food waste
  • Here is a tip for saving water that will also save you time, and perhaps even keep you healthier… Just before Earth Day I received an email from the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest urging me to save water by not re-washing pre-washed produce. I decided to check out whether the information was accurate and discovered this pdf on food safety prepared by the FDA. Sure enough the fact sheet states: “If the package indicates that the contents are pre-washed and ready-to-eat, you can use the produce without further washing.” The FDA goes on to recommend: “If you do choose to wash a product marked “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” be sure to use safe handling practices to avoid any cross contamination.” Otherwise your rinsing might cause more harm than good.
  • And don’t forget that one-pot pasta dish from a few weeks back in which no water goes down the drain.

Now that I am back in the saddle again, look for me next Monday, or maybe even sooner.

Happy Meatless Monday!  Have a great week.

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.”

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