When you consider all of the direct and indirect emissions, our largest collective source of greenhouse gases is food production. With 7.6 billion people in the world and industrial-scale farming, it makes sense. Today, sixty billion land animals being raised today require half of all agricultural land for food and pasture. Livestock emissions including CO2, NO2 & Methane are responsible for 18-20% of all greenhouse gases, annually. All of this places food production as the #1 cause of global warming.
But this complex system can also be a big part of the solution with better practices. So, we decided, as a company, to start there. We asked the teams what we could do to raise awareness and initiate some action within our small team. We started by creating a few challenges for ourselves.
Everyone on our team member picked a day to track the mileage it took to gather enough ingredients to their home to create 3 well-balanced, delicious meals. Whoever accumulated the least number of miles, while also eating well, was the winner. At NEMO, most of us love to cook and we love our local farmer’s markets and farm stands so competition was fierce.
Having this challenge before our summer growing season actually kicked in was a great lesson in eating seasonally. Sounds like the team is ready for another go at this come late August.
My family and I did the Radius Challenge on the weekend of May 26/27. We had a blast thinking about the mileage and the effort that went into growing the ingredients, it made it all taste that much better.
Our original idea was to go to each of the six or more family farms within five miles of our house. They include Riverslea (2.0 miles), Brookvale Pines (3.4 miles), Whitegate (2.5 miles), Coppal House (4.6 miles), Vernon Family (4.0 miles), Pelosi Family (4.9 miles). Since many farms have not opened yet due to the fact that it’s very early season, we decided to go to just two, the Vernon Family Farm in Newfields, as they have a great selection of local food, enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Stout Oak Farm in Brentwood (7.0 miles). We bought the chicken, Shitake mushrooms, sourdough bread, and bacon at Vernon Family Farm. We bought the greens at Stout Oak.
We ate well, wasted nothing, and supported our local farmers.
Our second challenge was to get a little lower on the food chain… and start enjoying a more plant-based diet. Most of our team loves their share of meat and fish, especially when harvested from the wild. But we also see that balance is key. As cultures evolve and populations continue to expand, food demand, in particular the demand for meat, is predicted to double by 2050.
That is most likely, not sustainable. Together as a team, we’ve decided: to acknowledge that equally nutritious plants take far less resources and energy to grow and process; and to start cooking vegetarian dishes more often in our daily habits.
We’ve been exploring and sharing recipes as a team, and have selected a few of the favorites we’ve tried to share with you.
Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and ¼ of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.
In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions and the remaining ginger. Sauté for 2 minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and sauté for another minute or two more.
Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes of so. The texture should thicken up. You can play around with the consistency by simmering longer for a thicker soup.
Optional: serve with some rice and or naan bread.
Source: 101 Cookbooks
Make the sauce by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor until smooth. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils. Hand blender works too.
Slice the watermelon into cubes that are roughly ½” – ¾” in width. Transfer to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the top of the watermelon and gently toss. Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. Toss the watermelon once or twice more during timeframe you choose.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the watermelon poke to a serving dish, shaking off the extra sauce. Reserve any remaining sauce to season the rice or noodles if you do poke bowls. Sprinkle with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
Source: 101 Cookbooks
In a large saucepan or soup pot, sauté the onions and peppers in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the paprika, sherry, and water and cook on high heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt to draw out the juices. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, while you cut the cauliflower into florets. Mix in the florets and simmer until the cauliflower is tender but still firm, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the paprikash and keep it warm until ready to serve but prevent it from simmering or it may curdle.
Source: Moosewood Cooks at Home
To celebrate the initiative, we also have a vegan potluck scheduled when everyone returns from OR in Colorado. It’s a great way to push people to create new dishes, try different recipes, and build some cultural traditions around the celebration of vegetables. It will also be a good time all catch up and hear more about how the show went.
Check back for a fun video on that soon.
Maybe everyone out there is consistently recycling their waste packaging already. But how many of you are composting? Some people think it’s only easy if you have some land and maybe a garden. But with so many great composting services out there, composting has never been easier even if you live or work in the center of an urban area. Companies will deliver you bins and liners and after you’ve filled it up with all of your organics, they’ll come by your office or house to pick it up for you, and give you a new liner, each week. They offer training to your staff to help the transition. Some even give you free bags of compost at the end of the year!
Simple. Easy. Amazing for our world and amazing for you. Start creating incredible, nutrient-rich compost that will up your soil moisture levels and boost soil health — allowing you to grow better food and take less trips to the dumpster.
One final, often overlooked, but very important benefit of a compost service: it is a much better place for your organics to decay because they are constantly turning it over so oxygen is being mixed in. whereas when it decays in a landfill, the layers of waste seal out any oxygen and anaerobic bacteria take over the process and Methane, CO2 and various other gases are released.
We have only just set up this service so check back as we record our stats and get people’s thoughts on this.
Find a Composter – A great site to help you find organics collection and compost services in your area.
101 Cookbooks – A California-based food blog with over 700 delicious vegetarian, whole foods, and vegan recipes.
Purple Carrot – A delivery service that empowers busy households to prepare and enjoy “delicious plant-based meals that are good for you and good for the planet.”
Well Vegan – A service that makes plant-based eating convenient and enjoyable by providing a subscription-based catalog of great vegan recipes and meal plans for the week, and a shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need.
Moosewood – What else needs to be said? One of the originals, this institution helped start it all.
Ecolife – A comprehensive online resource that provides hundreds of ideas and ways for greener living.
The 100 Mile Diet – An inspiring book that recounts the experience of the two authors as they restricted their diet, for one full year, to include only foods grown within 100 miles of their residence.