Green Eating

Interested in green eating (and drinking)? Check out these columns by yours truly on topics ranging from seasonal food in December to sustainable chocolate to natural wines — all for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Cook with fresh foods -- ideally from your local farmers' market like these or home-grown in your kitchen garden
For a healthy, earth-friendly diet, prepare meals at home with local, organic, unprocessed foods — mostly of the plant-based variety. If and when you include meat, eggs and dairy, use them sparingly for flavor and their cooking properties (leavening, thickening, etc.).

Knowing how to cook helps. And why wouldn’t you want to know? Cooking is a wonderful, sensuous experience that can provide everyday pleasure and, when the results are good, a sense of pride and accomplishment — even artistry.

Some must-have items can only be grown in far-off places (coffee, chocolate, olive oil, lemons, depending on where you live). I’ve personally never considered giving them up. But I make a special effort to buy organic varieties.

Don’t forget animal welfare! It’s not on every environmentalist’s list, but I think it should be. The “Certified Humane” label ensures humane treatment.

  • Is Organic Food Worth It? – This is one of my most popular columns. It explains in simple question-and-answer form why organic food is worth the extra cost. If you can’t afford an all-organic diet, see my post on the 12 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic (2010).
  • Eating in the Neighborhood – I wrote this piece about the delights and environmental benefits of shopping at the local farmers’ market back in 2004 before ‘local” and “seasonal” became the buzzwords they are today. It still says it all (in my humble opinion).
  • Kitchen Gardening – Grow your own for the most local, flavor-filled food of all. Can’t beat the price!
  • ‘Tis the Season for Local Foods – Summer isn’t the only season for eating local, seasonal foods. Learn why — and get a winter recipe for Green Gumbo from The Cleaver Company, my favorite green caterer.
  • Green Holiday Entertaining – When you entertain for a crowd your environmental impact goes way up. Get some tips on making your holiday party green — and a recipe for vegan latkes that’s better than the traditional one, as all the meat-eaters at my last Hanukkah party agreed.
  • Poor Henny Penny – A chicken’s horrific existence on a modern-day egg factory farm isn’t something I want on my own conscience. Buying Certified Humane eggs is a small price to pay to allow our fellow creatures a life worth living.
  • Down with Meat – Eating less meat (not necessarily none) helps with a host of environmental problems — from water pollution to the disappearance of open space near where we live. In this column, I run through some pretty convincing reasons to cut your own consumption. I also provide cooking tips for making vegetarian meals as toothsome as those with meat.
  • Another Reason to Eat Less Meat – If the other reasons didn’t persuade you, try global warming. This column includes a delicious recipe for coconut curry noodle soup.
  • The Perfect Cup – With my 7-cup-a-day coffee habit in my 20s, I was practically destroying the rainforest single-handedly. Now I’m down to 4 cups a day, but it’s still a lot. Thank goodness I discovered the difference that buying organic, shade-grown coffee can make.
  • Chocoholics Unite! – Cacao-growing for chocolate has some of the same impacts on the tropics as coffee production does — and the same solutions.
  • Best-kept Wine Secrets -The quality of artisanal natural wines made today can be amazing. Even if I didn’t care about their environmental advantages, I’d seek them out for their taste. Not all natural wines are labeled organic, for reasons I explain in the column.
  • The Future of Drinking Water – Bottled water is less well regulated than tap and its purity and safety is far from a sure thing, as independent testing has proven. Think about switching back to tap water. If you are concerned about the quality, there are steps you can take.
  • Green Certified Restaurants – There is a small but growing group of restaurants across the nation actively pursuing sustainability through energy and water efficiency, recycling and — oh yeah, sustainable food. Now you can keep your values intact when you dine out, too.