Where to from here?

This is the post where I share some of the best examples of sustainability initiatives around the world which are being activated through the World Wide Web.

  1. This UK Based organisation turns food waste into meals for those who are struggling. Feeding those who can’t afford to feed themselves while massively reducing waste. GO FoodCycle
  2. Feeding beautiful little Piggies with our food waste, I can’t think of a cuter way to reduce food waste.
  3. Again a British Company, taking Fruit that may not be 100% aesthetically perfect and turning it into delicious (vego-friendly) snacks. Two thumbs up from me!
  4. A company turning food waste into clean, green, recycled energy to power us through life.
  5. Encouraging businesses to go green and reduce, reuse and recycle is one of the hardest part of the sustainability movement. But this organisation does this, while clueing up consumers about which restaurants are putting in the hard yards and helping us choose where to spend our hard earned cash.

Hopefully NZ can start catching up with those businesses overseas who are trying their best to reduce food waste.

Featured Image of Pikelet and PattyCakes with their foster babies: sourced from metro.co.uk

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Beans, Beans the Wonderful Fruit

Many meat eaters feel like they can’t go vegetarian or have a low-meat diet because they don’t feel they could get enough protein to take it’s place. This is so silly! There are so many great plant based protein sources like legumes and pulses. Legumes include soy, alfalfa, peanuts etc and pulses include dried seeds, lentils, split peas and dried beans. Both are great sources of fiber, pholate, potassium, iron and vitamins. They are low in fat and glycemic carbohydrates so keep you full for longer.

They are also great for the soil and essentially, the environment as a whole. Lentils etc have been labeled “Green Manure” by some as they literally add nitrogen to the soil. They are a great crop to grow sustainably as they replenish soil and can create crops which will go on to feed the bellies of many.

As a vegetarian, it is important to get used to legumes and pulses as they are amazing sources of protein and are super cheap.

Here is a recipe I use to make a delicious Lentil and Mushroom ragu.

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Lentil, Mushroom and Kale Ragu

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (any kind of cooking oil)

One can/Two cups of cooked lentils (any kind but Du Poy add a nice texture)

6 med-large mushrooms

Half a red onion (Sliced or diced)

2 tsp of Garlic (or two fresh cloves)

3 Cups of Kale

1/2 Cup of wine (red or white)

1/8 Cup of chopped herbs (Thyme, Oregano, Sage)

1/2 Cup of full fat cream, sour cream or coconut cream/milk, creme fraiche (any kind of thickening, creamy ingredient)

A handful of any fresh greenery you need to get rid of (We used chopped up Brussel sprouts)

  1. Add oil, onion and garlic to pan. Cook for around 4 mins
  2. Add sliced mushroom, brown for around 5 mins
  3. Add herbs, kale and wine and cook down for around 10  mins
  4. Add cream and simmer for a further 10 mins
  5. Add cooked lentils, stir around until Lentils are heated through
  6. Serve with crusty bread, an egg cooked on top or just by itself.

All images courtesy of EC, creator of this blog

“Milk was a bad choice”

Especially when it comes to one of the most widely used milk alternatives; Almond Milk.

It is creamy, vegetarian, lactose and cholesterol free while being a nice wee dose of good fats. Unfortunately almond milk is one of the most unsustainable milk alternatives out there because we love the stuff so much and it’s actually thing to be wasting all the time, energy and resources on. Actual almonds have more nutrient benefits than the milk nut Almond milk still kicks all of the other plant based milks asses. It’s sales now total two thirds of the market for milk alternatives. Dairy holds ninety percent of the ‘milk market’, but there’s still hope as the consumption of cow’s milk is slooooowly going down. Don’t get me started with the Industrial scale Dairy business.

The production of almond milk is also very resource intensive. It takes 4.2 Litres of water to grown one, single almond.  Around 80% of the world’s almonds go towards making what is essentially almond water – so it doesn’t really make sense as a nutritional or sustainable approach to milk alternatives.

If you are looking for a milk alternative that’s tasty and is loaded with guilt-free nutrients then maybe stick to Coconut or to cut down your eco-footprint even more, give making your own nut or grain milk!

Green Waste

Composting is a great way to reduce waste and it’s a pretty easy habit to incorporate into your lifestyle, if you have the room. Composting basically takes any organic matter and over a period of weeks uses a chemical process to break down the material. Fungi and worms help too. This process provides nutrient dense humus to soil; which can often be depleted of phosphorous and, especially when over farming occurs. The compost acting as a natural fertiliser AND pesticide for soil and can be used as soil conditioner, to construct wetlands and as erosion control.

Committing to composting isn’t as hard as you may think. It involves an initial cost the of bucket purchase and a compost bin for your garden, but after that it’s smooth sailing. We just keep a bucket under the sink and chuck teabags, egg shells and essentially everything we don’t eat into it. You wouldn’t even know it was there. It feels pretty good to not throw green waste into the bin and if you have a green-thumb, you will reap double the benefits!

‘Avanavocado

Although these green wee fellows are pretty hard to come by in the winter months, they are pure green gold. So many good fats! Loaded with more potassium than a banana and plenty of fibre to boot, these creamy little suckers are a must if you’re looking for a good dosage of omega-3’s.

 

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They are so versatile. Add them to your morning banana smoothie to add velvety creaminess or use them to make a delicious chocolate mousse or frosting. Savoury or sweet, what a delight to eat!

Now the question is, are they sustainable? Not really. In fact there is a bit of a crisis when it comes to sustainably farming Avocado’s at the moment

 

 

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Recipe for Berry and Avocado Breakfast Smoothie

(Enough for two)

1 Avocado

1 1/2 cups of blueberries (or any kind of frozen or fresh berries)

1 1/2 Scoops of Whey protein (I used vanilla)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/2 cup of plain, full fat yogurt

2 Tbsp Coconut flakes

500 ml minimum of milk (any kind but I used soy milk this time)

 

  1. Whizz all ingredients together and serve!

 

All Images courtesy of EC, creator of this blog

 

 

Had to do it

Chia seeds

These teeny weeny little superfood powerhouses can be used in so many ways and I must confess I am infatuated by the wee buggers. Reason being, they are absolutely loaded with protein; a macronutrient pretty hard to load up on when you cut meat out of your diet. They are packed with omega-3 fatty acids,  antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. If you buy them somewhat locally grown then they are pretty sustainable too.

To get the full specs of what I consider to be a vegetarian lifesaver then head here.

 

I eat Chia seeds in bread, smoothies, sprinkled on basically anything and my favorite way;

Chia Seed Pudding

3 Tbs Chia seeds

Nut milk, Coconut cream or water

2 Medjool dates

1/2 tsp of Cinnamon

1/2 tsp of Vanilla extract

Small pinch of salt

 

  1. Add all ingredients (apart from dates) to a jar and mix/shake around until Chia seeds seem evenly dispersed throughout the liquid
  2. Chop dates up a little, chuck them in and leave sealed in a jar or bowl overnight (or 4 or more hours). Breakfast is served or a takeaway snack.

 

Image – Creative Commons

Eating in

If, like me, you are financially challenged yet determined to eat well, I’m sure you have a repertoire of reliable recipes under your wing which work to keep your tank full in between trips to Mum’s. Not going to lie, it has taken me a couple of years to find my groove and probably a collective couple of months worth of blankly staring into the depths of my cupboard but this is what I eat to keep myself chugging along between my weekend work at the coffee shop, my week of full time study and the intermittent bouts of exercise I force on myself.

 

  1. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

This spinach stuff is some gooooooood sh*t. The best thing about it is it’s availability. You can pretty much find it all year round, which is great news because it is amazingly good for you. It is great for veggo’s as it is extremely rich in iron, which a lot of vegetarians (especially women) can easily become deficient in when switching from a meaty diet to a no meat diet. According to The World’s Healthiest Food’s Organisation spinach is at the top of the list for health benefits and nutrient density.

No wonder Popeye carried a couple of cans on him at all times in case of emergency. Over the years, Popeye has become a bit of a hero of mine. I wish I had the genius forethought to carry spinach on my person as I go about my day. This may be going a little far though, seeing as I probably eat it in around 3/4 of my meals as is. It’s gotten to the point where my boyfriend (who once upon a time had little to no care for nutrition) automatically puts it in everything we cook. Along with its health benefits it is super versatile. You can put it in sauces, salads, smoothies, sandwiches and just about anything you intend on putting in your mouth.

 

2. Lemon

This list is an honest, prioritised representation of my shopping needs and weirdly enough, lemons are right up there. I drink them in my water, tea and add the juice to most dishes. It adds a nice citrus kick to balance out those stodgy mid-week , one pan wonders. Lemon is mostly used by myself as a bit of a cleanse for my innards. It is mainly used for its citric acid content which is good for cleaning in the home and cleaning you from the inside out. There are many unofficial benefits of drinking lemon water so trying to make room for this little yellow friend in your diet will pay off. It is used as a treatment for digestive issues, the common cold (when mixed with honey to make a bit of a ‘health tonic’) and a plethora of illnesses. Lemon contains Vitamin C, B6, A and E. Lemons are also home to the infamous flavonoid family of plant metabolites, known for it’s wondrous antioxidant properties.

There are also rumours that the zest has anti-cancer properties, this legend has yet to be proven but obviously you would need to invest in some organic lemons to potentially receive the full benefits. Not using organic, could actually do more harm than good. Citrus is often sprayed with a range of nasty fungicides, parasiticides and disinfectants. Good news is you can get rid of this icky stuff by soaking your fruit collection in some vinegar and water. Here is how.

A recipe for how I use both of these food’s in my weekly rotation below

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Lemony Spinach and Kale Pesto Pasta

2 cups of spinach

1 cup of kale (any kind)

1 lemon

2 courgette

1/3 of Broccoli Head

Coconut Oil

Chilli Flakes

Garlic

 

  1. Get a sturdy pan and melt 1Tbs of coconut oil and add your garlic and broccoli. Keep enough oil in the pan to stop the garlic from burning and fry the broccoli to how you like it.
  2. Add spinach, kale, the juice and a bit of zest of lemon and the courgette strands.
  3. Cook it all down for a few minutes until greens have wilted, add chilli flakes.
  4. You can add pasta at the end if you want to bulk it up a bit but the zoodles (julienned courgette) can replace spaghetti in this case.
  5. Add some basil pesto (store-bought or homemade, if you are that way inclined)  and cheese
  6. EAT IT

 

Pigging out…Pt.3

Featured Image : dothegreenthing.tumblr.com

We buy meat because it’s easy, it’s readily available and for the most part, it tastes good. Is it really easy? My favourite, psychologically scarring advertisement (I cannot find online after an hour of searching) used to be on television but no longer airs….probably because it was f*%@ing up too many Mummy’s and Daddy’s days as their kids cling to the bottom of their trousers pleading, “That’s not where our meat comes from, is it?” Because honestly, this ad was confronting.

It showed a middle aged, very together looking woman strolling down a grocery aisle with a flickering smile and an innocent looking shopping list. She is looking for bacon and then all of a sudden the big double doors in front of her loudly judder open leading her and her trolley into a dark, dinghy warehouse full to the brim of factory farmed pigs and piglets writhing around on the floor of tiny dirty stalls screaming, the way pigs scream, when they are distressed. This is real footage of factory farming.

Now, 13 year old Me, is very fragile (not unlike 24 year old me today) and bursts into tears with a gripping jolt of panic and urgency. Does everyone know about this? Why are we still eating meat? Quick! Let’s scream it from the rooftops, pick up the phone, write a letter…something! I don’t know how, but as far as I can remember this was my first exposure to industrialised meat products…..apart from actually eating the stuff. Up until this point, I really had believed that those twee little farms I had visited throughout my childhood, not unlike Old Macdonald’s, was as bad as it got.

Not shockingly, this ad only lasted a couple of months. Perhaps it was too real, too traumatising. People all over NZ shielding their eyes in front of their TV dinners, “Please. We are trying to eat!”. It has popped up every now and again over the years, but I can’t imagine advertisements like this doing anything good for the ‘clean, green’ image of the NZ farming industry or associated meat sales.It seems like the driving factor behind creating a poster image for the meat industry has nothing to do with good ethics, conservation or climate awareness. It is directly to do with sales and that illusive beast….the economy.

All power to you if you strictly buy fresh, locally sourced, organic, free-range/grass fed meat. Even more power to you if you traipse into the wilderness camouflaged in khaki with a hefty survival bag full of wilderness essentials, not forgetting a gun or two, and shoot yourself a wild piece of venison or pork. Some of my closest friends will often disappear for days into the bush and return back with a freezer load of freshly butchered pig. After all, up until quite recently, we as a culture depended on this instinctive, primal activity of hunting and gathering. Now, we find ourselves confronted with meat products everywhere we go. Getting our hands dirty (in the physical sense) for a meal is no longer a necessity. The sad, tormented fact is, most people just don’t consume meat the old fashioned KIY (Kill-It-Yourself) way anymore.

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Despite wholeheartedly loving the Ron Swanson mentality, I don’t eat meat because I feel that the current industrialised era of food production and the idea of sustainability, just cannot go hand in hand.

I eat eggs sometimes (the real free range kind), I take cream in my coffee, I eat yogurt and I honestly don’t think my life would be worth living without cheese. Everyone is different and a lot of people are limited by their financial situation or by their dietary restrictions. I believe it is all about what works for you, while acknowledging the wider problems and doing your best to not directly contribute to them on a day to day basis. My food ethos is built around trying to reduce my consumption of meat and animal products. If I were financially stable this commitment would be much easier. At the moment I struggle with keeping my meals varied and nutritious. How many cheese and spinach toasties does it take before one turns into a giant, stringy toasted sandwich oneself? I will keep you updated.

 

Pigging out…Pt 2

Now back to that sticky topic nobody likes hearing about, or talking about for that matter.

One of the biggest causes of carbon dioxide emissions, it is responsible for the decrease in bee population through the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, it is a major polluter of our water sources, a cause of soil erosion and it is a completely unsustainable practice which does not make the most of our resources. When I talk about industrial agriculture and meat production practices, I am more specifically referring to intensive animal farming, industrial livestock production or as most of us call it, factory farming.

10 years ago, the United Nations released a report called Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, which discussed the environmental problems associated with meat production and how we, as a global collective can work to mitigate the surrounding issues of pollution. The report states; “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.” Dr. Henning Steinfeld, LEAD (Livestock, Environment and Devolpment Sector of the UN) Coordinator states that industrial-scale meat production is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems” and that “urgent action is required to remedy the situation.” If you want a bit  of light reading, here is a copy of the report. If you ain’t got time for that, then here is a neat wee summary.

The ‘livestock sector’ and how we interact with it is politically and socially important, so why have we as a species not radically changed our practices in the 10 years since this significantly informative report was released? The majority of scientific research supports this report. Yet somehow the literature outlining agricultural problems is all too depressing and most of it can be overshadowed by the distraction of mainstream media and propaganda pushing.

 

 

Does meat somehow link to this archaic idea of manhood?

Please.

 

 

 

Pigging out…Pt.

Old Macdonald had a farm, ee eye ee eye oh…and on that farm he had a pig.

This Old Macdonald guy was a modest fella who knew what he was up to. One of each farm animal. You can milk the cow, make some cheese and cream and whey and then just sit around chilling with your other farm dwellers, making friends with the duck and eating the eggs that the chicken so kindly produced. Man, back in the day Old Macdonald had it goin’ on. I remember flicking through this narrative rhyme and thinking “When I grow up, I want to be just like Old Mac, so I can have the biggest family of furry friends”.

So whatever happened to this idyllic image of farming?

Now the typical farm uses intensive practices which require a much different attitude; worlds apart from this neat, bucolic method outlined in the oversimplified childhood story. It seems while we were all looking the other way the agricultural industry has spiralled out of control.

Monoculture can be seen in the majority of American farms. This is a well practiced concept which involves concentrating all of your energy, as a farmer, on growing one specific kind of crop only, on a huge scale. Kind of putting all of your eggs, or grains rather, in one basket. The scary part is, to do this usually requires some kind of chemical intervention, which ultimately puts the consumer at risk, as well as the natural environment. An in depth breakdown of this practice is provided here

If we were to think of the agricultural industry and the practices of large scale companies or independent farms as being situated on a sliding scale of sustainability; farms which prioritise sustainability and safe practice would be on the far left side of this spectrum.  Mega agrochemical users who prioritise profit over all else (including our lived environment and the creatures homed by it) are way over to the right. Head down to your local farmers market to see how the far left operate in real life. Stalls of locally grown fruit, veg, artisan cheese, wine, cakes and breads. Here in Dunedin, the farmers market is a weekend event. It unites a large chunk of our city who enjoy strolling the stalls coffee in hand, with bags full of fresh produce.

No doubt, you’ve heard of the powerful agricultural, ‘biotech bully’; Monsanto. This company is at the forefront of agrochemical use and they are one of the most powerful corporations in the world, sitting at the untouchable far right of this sliding sustainability scale. Their latest invention; spraying corn, alfalfa, sorghum and many more crops with RoundUp and then distributing them, business as usual. They have created RoundUp resistant crops which allow farmers to spray with highly toxic weed killer while their crops continue flourishing. Extensive research studies have proven this practice to be highly dangerous to humans, our water supplies and our environment.

There is a hoard of  information available online regarding Monsanto and their use of glyphosate (one of the active ingredients in RoundUp) and the hundreds of other chemicals used by Monsanto on an immense scale. Labelling themselves as ‘Sustainable Agriculture Leaders’ highlights how full of sh*t they are and what little care they take for those who consume their products.

Last month, an environmental group petitioned Argentina’s Supreme Court, seeking a temporary ban on glyphosate use after an Argentine scientist and local activists reported a high incidence of birth defects and cancers in people living near crop-spraying areas. Scientists there also linked genetic malformations in amphibians to glysophate. In addition, last year in Sweden, a scientific team found that exposure is a risk factor for people developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Read more at http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-toxic-to-human-cells.-study-intensifies-debate-over-inert-ingredients

There are countless stories of Monsanto’s immoral practices and their attempts to become the oligarchy of agriculture. Vanity Fair published an expose of Monsanto which exposes Monsanto as the embodiment of the classic schoolyard bully. Neil Young recently made a short film about the intimidation tactics Monsanto use against independent farmers who continue their traditional, chemical free, sustainable farming practices.

“Monsanto is one of the largest pharmaceutical and agricultural companies who produce a wide range of genetically modified foods and seeds, drugs and pesticides and herbicides. This multibillion dollar company has branches in 100 different countries and is the main producer of genetically modified crops and seeds in the world.” See more at:SOR.com. Monsanto hide behind lawyers, corrupt politicians, CEO’s and unlimited financial funds. There is a global grass-roots movement to strip them of power and boycott their products, but Monsanto continue to produce GMO filled crops which are poisoning habitats and people worldwide.

The sheer size of Monsanto is overwhelming. How do we, the ‘little people’ avoid toxic corn, soy, cotton and grains? Well, here is a list of known brands who readily associate with and rely on Monsanto crops. If Monsanto are as powerful and corrupt as evidence has shown, we must assume that the true scale of their infiltration of consumables is much wider than this relatively small list of associated brands.

José Graziano da Silva the director general of the Food andAgriculture Organisation says “Nothing comes closer to sustainable food production than family farming. The preservation of natural resources is rooted in their productive logic; and the highly diversified nature of their agricultural activities gives them a central role in promoting the sustainability of our food systems and ensuring food security.” Basically, if we want to be on the safe side (while encouraging local businesses) we should be supporting and buying from small, local agricultural independents. It costs a little more financially, but hey,  I would rather spend an extra $3 a pop for organic, locally grown produce than spend my hard earned pennies lining the pockets of unethical, corrupt agrochemical giants. 

 

 

 

 

Feature image: Belongs to EC, creator of this blog

Shot with 35mm film