green in the belly

I can’t believe I still haven’t posted on resolutions. January’s almost over, and the only insights I’ve offered into the hallowed New Year have been of the barley and lentil variety. I can do better than that, don’t you think? Don’t I owe you more than just these meagre attempts at undoing eight pounds of Christmas cookies?

Peering into other people’s resolutions is kind of thrilling. A keyhole glimpse into another person’s I’ll-do-it-betters can rejuvenate even the most tired of an old year’s routines. Resolutions actually make New Year’s one of my favorite times of the year. Why do I love this event full of pressure to HAVE SO MUCH FUN, you might ask. It’s simple: I’m addicted to newness.

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Newness doesn’t have to be sparkly or expensive. It’s simply the chance to see something differently: a morning, a plate of food, a friend, yourself. Newness rubs the spice into our stale lives, and livens up even the most jaded. There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with each bout of new. Making lists and setting goals, bring it on.

Our 24-hour train ride home (plus the 8 hour delay in North Dakota, plus the layover in Chicago) delivered moments abundant with time for resolving. I nestled up with my journal against a snowy window frame, the American prairie unfurling its stark white coattails behind me. What did I see in the snowglobe months ahead?

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So not only did I etch out a scintillating list of things to do in the first week back, I cobbled together some realistic aims for the new semester, including: developing a better working vocabulary, putting away the recipes to nurture my spontanous cooking side, and making my kitchen— and my body—more environmentally friendly.

How serendipitous then, when I returned to my February Bon Appetit proclaiming 50 Ways to Eat Green (sorry Paul Simon). After unpacking, showering, and ceremoniously devouring the crumbs of our train-induced junk food binge, I dove in. I couldn’t wait to read all about how I could fight the Christmas-body blahs and save the planet all in one proverbial bite.

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I quickly discovered that I’m already doing something right. I am proud to say that 17 of their handy little tree-hugging tips are already habits of mine. All those crushing moments reading about the demise of agriculture and all those non-organic apples I’d purchased flitted away like the plume of a free-range chicken. I waited for Al Gore to come out in an angel costume and give me a USDA Organic stamped halo. (When he fell through, I resorted to good old self-congratulation.)

So in no particular order, here are the 17 food-related things I — and probably many of you — already do to save the earth. Following that list are five more I resolve to practice more diligently in the New Year.

What I do:

1. A full freezer uses less energy than an empty one

2. Cooking with bison actually helps save the species

3. Cooking at home avoids excess packaging and processing of foods

4. Roasting a whole chicken means less waste and yummy stock to boot

5. Hand chopping uses less electricity than fancy processors

6. Buying in bulk reduces wastefulness and packaging and encourages whole-food eating

7. Being your own barista reduces expenses and landfills

8. Reusing containers and bags is a given

9. Making your own soup stock reduces trash

10. Making your own cereal cuts out packaging and is good for your bod

11. Going mostly vegetarian frees up energy for others

12. Packing your lunch makes lunches greener and more fun

13. Eating more tofu conserves water in a way that meat does not (replacing one pound of beef with tofu each month saves 20,000 gallons a year!)

14. Reusable grocery bags are more fun to carry and better for the earth

15. Boxed wine generates half as many carbon dioxide emissions in transport as bottles (and there ARE good ones out there!)

16. Keeping and eating the greens from beets reduces waste

What I will do:

1. Eating Alaskan Salmon is more sustainable and higher in omega-3’s

2. Savor Sardines because they they aren’t in danger of being overfished and contain less mercury than tuna 

3. Join a CSA and support local agriculture  

4. Bike to the market when the weather gets nicer and I find a safe and scenic route  

5. Text the Blue Ocean Insitute’s FishPhone when I buy fish, and find out how good it is for me and the world

paraphrased from Bon Appetit magazine, January 2009