Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen--the New Green Basics Way
by Kate Heyhoe
I've read several of Kate Heyhoe's previous books and was eagerly looking forward to this one. Kate Heyhoe's Cooking Green comes highly praised by some of the nation's top food environmentalists, and with good reason. There's a practical strategy on every page to "shrink your cookprint," and, she notes that by saving fuel and water you'll save money, too. Her sources are solid, and she draws on them to cover the entire food chain: EPA, USDA, Institute of Food Technologists, FDA, Michael Pollan, Harold McGee, U.S. Geological Survey (which measures land-water use), and the Department of Energy, to name a few.
For instance: Ovens waste as much as 94% of their fuel, according to the Department of Energy (worse fuel-efficiency than a Humvee). Solutions: scale back on oven-cooking, multitask your oven, and power down before the dish is done to make use of the residual heat (she starts her lasagna recipe in a cold oven and "passively" finishes it by turning off the heat 15 minutes early and leaving the door closed; her recipe is great and shows how to adapt others to the same fuel-saving process). Or, use your cooktop or toaster oven instead of a full oven. Avoiding beef drastically shrinks your cookprint, but if meat's your thing, her her rare roast beef recipe uses 20 minutes of high heat, then passively roasts for an hour with the fuel turned off (traditional recipes use 2 hours of fuel).
Many cooks don't realize that with water, it takes nearly as much energy to jump from "almost boiling" to actual boiling, and that boiling water is the same temperature whether it's boiling fast or gently; so fast-boiling actually wastes fuel. And water takes a long time to cool down, so you can turn off the heat early and use slowly cooling water to gently cook lots of foods, including pasta, lentils, potatoes, green beans, and more. This saves fuel and cuts down on carbon emissions.
She also covers the entire "cookprint" by tackling topics that include avoiding BPA (it's in some bottles and most can liners, but good news: it's not in aseptic paperboard packages, like the ones used for chicken broth and tomatoes); which cookware and small appliances to buy; making perishables last longer so there's less waste and fewer grocery trips; and how to pick greener foods when local and organic aren't options.
This is a great book for anyone wanting to take control of their life and really make a difference. As the author says, going green is all about making choices, and this book is a good choice for anyone who eats.
Jack Gurney (amazon.com)