Archive for April, 2010

A Relaxing Swim in the Yamuna River

The Yamuna River, above,  is largest tributary of the Ganges River. When it flows through Dehli, 58 percent of the city’s waste gets dumped into the river. Millions of Indians still have to wash and even drink this water. Refreshing.
PHOTO: AFP/Manan Vatsyayan. Read more  at The 15 most toxic places to live

Sure,  I knew bottles from bottled water were filling the landfills and that bottled water in general was “bad for the environment.” But I had no idea that the worlds water is basically controlled by 3 or 4 major water corporations. I also didn’t know that some of that water labeled “mountain fresh” is actually changing our landscape, helping promote desertification, and draining lakes around the world — including our own Great Lakes. I knew Mexico City was once located on a lake but I didn’t know that when the Spaniard conquered it, their draining off of the area messed with the water supply. Or that before Vincente Fox was president of Mexico, he was president of Coca-Cola for Mexico and Latin America and that when Mexico was under Fox’s leadership, Coca-Cola had unlimited supply of water to make coke while farmers had to fight for water to raise crops. Or that industrial agriculture in general, is one of the biggest causes of water pollution.

I knew that there was something vaguely wrong with our water and that I really should turn off the tap. But I didn’t know it was political issue or the magnitude of the crisis  —  or that we still have a chance to make a difference. Check out  Blue Gold.

Other fun facts I learned tonight:

  • NYC drinks a lot of bottled  water. If everyone in New York City were to use a reusable water bottle for one week, for one month, or for one year it would make a significant difference in reducing waste. See these stats from the Refill not Landfill campaign.

One week = 24 million bottles saved
One month = 112 million bottles saved
One year = 1.328 billion bottles saved

From the Refill not Landfill campaign:

  • You don’t have to trash plastic bottle tops. The plastic tops from water bottles, or peanut butter, or  any other lid that’s #5 plastic can be recycled. For me, that’s means a garbage bag filled with plastic is hittin gthe Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. But you can find other recycling centers at 911 Earth
  • New York’s City water is pure enough to drink. At least for another 10 years. According to a recent EPA report, our reservoirs don’t need a big expensive filtration system. And not only do we get a passing grade on the purity of our water, but we are set for the next 10 years. Plus, the state is making a commitment to keeping the reservoirs cleans and protecting them against pollution. Read more>

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It was an office reunion of a sort. R was in from out of town, so I came down to  J’s office to work with them.  It was sometime after lunch.

“I need a bottle of seltzer,” J said.

“Me too,” R piped up. “Can you grab me one?”

“Sure,” J said. “Lisa do you want one?”

Yes, I wanted to say. “No,” I said sheepishly, “I can’t. It’s part of my sustainable thing.”

“Oh yeah,” J said. Her tone of voice reminded me of how people sound when they’re talking about someone with a special food need — like a kosher vegan or someone with a food allergy.

K came in for our meeting. She sat down at J’s round table next to me.

“Look,” J said, “you have seltzer, too.”

“Yeah,” K said, “They only sell it in the machine down here. I came down to get it.”

The three of them waved their bottles at me and shrugged their shoulders.And as the room echoed with the sound of fizz they all laughed because somehow I had made drinking seltzer out of a plastic bottle a little bit naughty — like eating a candy bar or a cupcake.  They certainly didn’t disagree with me that using plastic bottles was bad for the environment, but for that moment it didn’t matter. It wasn’t a choice they were willing to make. And, I wondered how long I would last. It was certainly possible that at some point  it wouldn’t matter to me again.

But for now, the blog is keeping me honest. Well sort of.

As a consolation, I got myself a cup of tea. Which was a ridiculous trade off — because out of habit, I went to the kitchen and dropped a plastic k-cup of  my old favorite green tea into one of those single-cup brewing systems. I made it before I remembered that I had also sworn off that machine for coffee. In fact, I had dusted off the French press I had brought into the office about a year ago (but had barely used) so that I wouldn’t have to go to Starbucks and I wouldn’t have to use that machine. And for tea, I just brought my own tea bags.

In case you’ve never used one, the k-cup coffee maker’s claim to fame is that they makes a “perfect cup” of fresh coffee or tea individually for each person. The machine crushes a plastic container dispensing the hot beverage stuff and voila – you get coffee or tea and the crushed plastic container drops down into a bin underneath.  The plastic refuse from my cup of tea wasn’t even recyclable — I should have just had the seltzer.

Tonight, when we sat down to dinner, John said, “I brought seltzer from work?”

He showed me his metal water bottle.

“We get free seltzer from the soda machine. I filled it up.”

We haven’t bought seltzer for weeks. It’s been a bit of hardship — not the worst — but it was pretty nice to have it back.

Anyway, the point of the story is that I ordered a seltzer machine from sodastreamus.  The kids are excited about it coming. They think having a seltzer machine is pretty cool and there’s been a lot of talk about how it works. I’m nervous about the extra hasstle of replacing canisters. Hopefully it will just become a matter of habit.

Farmer’s Market Update:
For all my complaining about price, the spinach and the baby arrugala we bought at the Farmer’s Market is out of this world delicious. It really tastes different — sweet and fresh and in the case of the spinach, just more spinachy.  I’ve been having amazing salads.  It’s totally making the shlep to the Farmer’s Market seem
completely worth it. And, it’s almost Wendseday and I haven’t run out yet.

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I have a fear of not having food. It’s unrational. It causes me to over-shop, over-cook, and over-eat.  Saturday’s visit to the farmers market made me uncomfortable and nervous that we would go hungry. How could I manage if I couldn’t run out to the Bodega or the supermarket? On top of the cost, not having the food I wanted available when I want it  definitely freaked me out.

It wasn’t helped by the dinner I cooked Saturday night — oven-roasted asparagus, leek and potato soup and Cajun-spiced oven roasted sweet potatoes. I was full, but felt vaguely unsatisfied, kind of like how I feel when I start a diet.It was all delicious, but it felt like I was eating sides. When I mentioned this John, who is a vegetarian, he just shrugged.

“I’m used to it,” he said

So on Sunday, the fear of not having enough to eat drove me to my comfort zone. Literally. I got the (very ungreen) car and I went to Costco’s. I needed a big jug of environmentally friendly dish detergent which I use to refill my pump on the sink. That was the reason.  That was my excuse.

Of course, while I was there I also picked up a few other things. I won’t go into the gory details, but I’ll say that I almost bought the hot house tomatoes from Mexico — they were in a container that said Green  box because it was recycled. But after looking carefully I realized the tomotos must be flown from Mexico to Ontario Canada and then either flown or trucked back to New York. That’s more international travel than I’ve done in a while. Instead, I bought the baby Portabello mushrooms which were grown in Pennsylvania. Ok, I know they’re not Farmer’s Market green.

I also bought milk. Costco’s brand organic milk. It was $7.99 for three half gallons. Not bad for organic milk. The rational, we’re half way through our $7 half gallon and I need to bake bread — that takes 2 whole cups.

It doesn’t matter that there are farmers markets all over the city. It doesn’t matter that I still had milk — the stockpile mentality is so deeply ingrained in me that I just needed to know I had milk.  And like a lot of Americans, I have poor impulse control — I want what I want when I want it.

Last night, I got home and started to Google Costco’s organic  milk.

Costco’s organic milk is supplied by the Aurora Dairy Corporation, which in 2007 was sued in a class action. According an October 17th, 2007  report of the Organgic Consumers Association:

“Aurora Organic Dairy Corporation, which supplies organic milk to Wal-Mart, Wild Oats, Target, Costco, Safeway, and other retailers, is engaged in “consumer fraud, negligence, and unjust enrichment” by failing to adhere to USDA organic standards even while selling its milk under the organic label.

In the end, the lawsuit was dismissed. But according toe the Cornucopia Institute,  a watchdog agency who initiated the lawsuit, the reason the case was dismissed was mostly political:

“In August 2007, Aurora was sanctioned by the USDA after the agency’s investigators found 14 “willful” violations of federal organic law. Instead of following the recommendations of career civil servants at the agency, that would have decertified Aurora and banned them from participating in organic commerce, Bush administration officials that run the agency placed Aurora on a one-year probation.Costco’s organic milk, it turns out is  was part of a lawsuit.”

Horizon milk was also part of this lawsuit. And according to the Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Dairy Report, both Aurora and Horizon are “Ethically deficient.” In their rating system, they get no cows.

To Aurora’s defense, they claim that their cows are grass pastured 120 days a year, and can produce milk so cheaply because of their special bottling technique. Their website talks about holding their milk to standards that are higher than the USDA organic and their commitment to organic stewardship and sustainability. And, according to Business Wire, a few weeks ago Aurora Organic Dairy was named the Best Fluid Milk Plan at the  2010 All Star Dairy Association Awards.

So Saturday, I felt a bit taken by the Farmers Market. But Sunday, I felt positively duped. I doubt I’ll be buying organic mil from costcos again. But the good news is that this Dairy Report Card is an awesome resource.  I’ve been looking for something like it for weeks

I emailed them to see if they knew anything about Fairways organic grass fed milk. (I also emailed Fairways) Whole foods organic milk rated ok — it gets a 4 cow rating of excellent. In fact, they reported:

“Whole Foods Market should be applauded as the first retailer willing to be transparent with their private-label products.”

According to the Dairy Report Card, this organic milk,

” . .  comes from a cooperative of organic family farmers dedicated to pasture-based dairy production and to preserving and expanding family farming as a way of life and a viable system of production. ”

What that says is, if I can’t get to the farmer’s market, or I’m broke, I think I have an option.

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Sticker shock?

I’ve lived in Washington Heights for over 12 years. My kids go to school in Inwood. But until today, I had never been to the Inwood Park Farmer’s Market.

It was a beautiful spring morning. The air was warm. The trees were blossoming. The kids, who were not exactly thrilled to come,  perked up when they saw a big pile of sticks and a rocky hill to run on.

I had my bags. I had my egg carton. I had a wad of cash. Because, although, I know that buying from the farmer is better for the world, it’s expensive.

At Whole Foods, (which apparently is evil), I have a choice. I can buy the super expensive organic produce or  dairy or meat, or I can go for the conventional and cheaper brands. I always know where the produce is coming from so I can decide if I want to get the tomatoes from the hothouse in Canada or the fields in Mexico. The fruits and veggies always gleam. Shopping at Whole Foods makes me feel glamorous. It’s Eco-chic at it’s best.

Ok, so why am I going on about Whole Foods, isn’t this is a post about the Farmer’s Market? We arrived this brilliant spring morning and started shopping.  I always do a sweep before I buy so I can compare prices and see what looks the nicest. Everything looked fine, pretty nice  — but there was not a lot of selection.

“Is everything organic?” I asked the lady who was running the Green Market stand. “No,” she said. “Most of the farmers practice sustainable farming. But they may not be organic. Like the apples, we can’t grow organic apples in New York state.”

She pointed to the farm stand at the end of the block, “They spray right when the blossom starts to form the apple.”

“So,” I asked her, “What’s better. To buy the organic apples that come flown in from Washington State. Or the non-organic apples that were grown here?”

“It’s always better to eat local,” she said.  “They say, if you can’t shake the hand of the person who grew it don’t eat it.”

“But I recently read that apples are own of the foods you should definitely eat organic because of pesticides,” I said, “Do I worry about the level of toxins in my kids or sustainability.”

She shrugged. “Everyone needs to make their own decision.”

I smiled. “That’s why I’m asking you!”

It was a fun outing, but I  had a hard time buying at the Farmer’s Market. The produce looked lovely. But the selection was slim which made me very anxious — would I be able to buy, or afford to buy, enough food to feed a family of five in this one trip. I’m still not sure.

This is what I ended up buying:

Asparagus — I can’t remember how much it cost, but I think the bunch was about 6 or 7$. In comparison, bought asparagus at Shop Rite last week for $1.99

Garlic onion  — it’s looks like scallions but the sign said they tasted like garlic, and they did — I can’t remember how much the bunches cost

Leeks – 2 bunches  — $2.50 a bunch. That’s not a bad price. But the leaks were definitely small.

1 Bunch of rhubarb — I can’t remember how much it cost.

Spinach – $4 – It was $5 a lb

Arrugala – $4 — It cost $4 a 1/4 lb

Flat of cilantro plants – $4.00 — I planted them next to my lettuce windowsill garden.

Apples $1.25 lb  — This was the only item that was cheaper than what I normally pay. I usually spend around $1.99/lb for organic apples.

1 dozen jumbo Large eggs – $4.50 – About $1.00 more than what I paid at the farm stand in New Jersey bringing them to more than double my regular Bodega eggs.

Milk – 1/2 gallon — $7.00 plus a $1.00 for deposit

1 pint of chocolate milk $3.00 plus $1.00 for deposit, 1 cider donut and 1 small cider – $1 — These items were part of my “whine tax”

The whole shopping trip cost about $60.  The most expensive item by far was the milk which came in an elegant glass milk bottle reminiscent of the ones the milk man used to leave when I was a very little kid.  The milk came from Milk Thistle Organic Dairy.

I can buy regular milk for about $1.99 a gallon, at Costco’s.  I can buy organic milk for $4.99 a gallon at either Trader Joes or ShopRite. I can buy grass fed organic milk for $3.50 a half gallon at Fairways, which is $7.00 a gallon. This milk at $7 a half gallon is $14.00 a gallon. Wow.

Ironically. I had seen this brand of milk at Whole Foods. I’d always wanted to buy it — the retro elegance of the bottle really got me. I remember saying to John,”One day, I’m going to treat myself and buy that milk.” But since it did not say grass fed, and since right now, I’m interested in the Omega Fatty Acid benefit of grass fed milk, I hadn’t escalated my impulse to purchase.

The green market lady promised that once I tasted Milk Thistle, I’d never go back. She also told me that I had to be cautious about what grass the grass fed cows had eaten. It could have pesticides in the grass. Ugg! I have to put that on my list of things to research. The apple farmer also told me that organic farmers actually spray. “They spray more than we do,” she said. I thought the whole deal of organics is that they don’t use pesticides.

This is when I start to get really nervous. Who is telling me the truth? Who is not trying to market to me to get my money?

Unlike when I leave Whole Foods, I left the Farmers Market feeling a confused, nervous about how I was going to turn this strange collection of veggies into meals, and a little unsure if I had been taken.

Tonight when Blaise requested a glass of “that grass-fed milk.” He smacked his lips as it went down. “It’s delicious,” he said.

I took a sip from his glass. “It tastes just like milk.”

“No,” he said, “I can definitely tell the difference from that hormone kind.”

Then he paused. “Are we going to buy this every week?”

I shrugged.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “I’m not sure.”

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It was Earth Day,  and we’re working late. Both of us are in K’s office finishing up the last minute deadline. This weeks, what-do-you-mean-you-didn’t-know-it-was due tomorrow deadline.

“I’m hungry. Let’s order in.”

So I look up places to deliver on Menu Pages. I think about the garbage that any take out is going to bring in, but right now I don’t care. It’s almost 8. I’m hungry. And my justification is that I’m not going to do this a lot.

Justification. It’s a beautiful thing.

Because it’s so late, we decide not to order, but to walk across the street and see what’s open. There’s always Chipotle,the wheel-heeled cousin of MacDonald’s, which is also across the street. But I really want sushi, so we try the Japanese restaurant on 41st street first.

We are in luck. They are clearly closing up, but they haven’t shut the register. All the pre-made sushi in the case is 20% off. My nose for a bargain is excited. My instinct for self preservation feels a bit shaky. Nobody wants “fishy” sushi.  All that’s left is little packs. So not only am I stuck making garbage, but I’m stuck buying three or four cute little containers of questionably fresh fish.

As we are paying, I ask K,”Do you mind if we use one bag?”

“Sure,” she says. It’s one of my least weird requests and actions over the last few weeks.

“Just one bag,” I tell the cashier. She nods as if she understands. Then she grabs another plastic bag to put our miso soups which are each already wrapped and tied up in a clear plastic bag like goldfish from a pet store. She looks really confused.

“I’ll carry it,” I tell her. It’s as if the words don’t registers. She can’t figure out what I’m doing or why.

“I don’t want to make garbage,” I tell her.

She nods politely as if anything I’ve said has made sense.

We get back to the office and start to unwrap.

“Can you do me a favor?” I ask K. “When you uwrap your miso, can you untie the bag so I can save and re-use it.”

“Sure,” she says in her signature sing-song tone of voice.

I’m not sure if sushi is sustainable. I’m not sure if tuna or salmon or any of the fishes I’ve bought are on the endangered list. Last I heard, we were not supposed to eat wild salmon because it was being over fished. And I’m pretty sure the salmon sushi is not wild — it’s got that pale farmed salmon color. Of course farmed salmon are fed corn. I had stopped eating it a few years ago because the environmental impact fish farming has on the sea. Apparently it really messes with the eco system. But honestly, as I’m choosing my dinner, I don’t even remember that I know anything about salmon being an issue. It doesn’t cross my mind, until I sit down tonight to write about it.

In the  moment, I just want sushi.  So we get back to the office and we sit down to eat, and it’s pretty delicious.  After we’re done, K says, “Are you going to save all these little containers?”

I nod yes, I collect them all — hers and mine — and bring them to the sink in the kitchen.

They wash out very easily and once clean they fit together neatly in a nice clean stack. The tiny silver soy sauce tray is adorable. They can easily be re-used. And, now that I’ve committed to not buy more plastic wrap or ziploc bags, I am sure they will come in handy. What we don’t use for containers, I am sure the kids can use for arts and crafts projects.

Still it is not a small bag. I wonder what I would do if I couldn’t get rid of these bits and bobs of plastic. I have a flash of my apartment, which is pretty cluttered as it is, cram packed with empty containers, shiny soy sauce trays, and pretty red chopstick wrappers. And I think, maybe if I am stuffed to the gills with garbage, I’ll chose not to make more more often.

One can only hope.

Links for more info on what kind of salmon we should eat:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Watch a disturbing video about the environmental impact of farmed salmon:

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Today  is Earth Day, and there is a lot going on. Funny thing, I don’t feel as inspired by the hype as I think I should.

For starters, I’m suspicious of hype. And although I am grateful that there is a movement of people, a ground swell attempting to make change, I’m also nervous. Because  see two different things happening at the same time: I see an energized faction — and a whole lot of status quo. A status quo that’s educated on the issues but just has other priorities right now. And me, despite this blog, I’m still teetering somewhere in the middle.

My garbage-colored lenses
Since I started this project,  my perspective has certainly shifted.

I don’t see just my friends eating lunch at their desks. I see the plastic container, the plastic bags and the utensils they used when they bought their deli salad. It’ll all go in the trash. And I totally understand why.

I see my mommy friends running after their kids with bottles of water. And I totally understand why.

I see supermarket aisles with boxes of things like coconut water  — tiny little drinks of trash. The display was almost as tall as I was which makes me  wonder, how many people must be buying this stuff. That one little market on 23 Street alone,  had aisles after aisles of boxes, and cans, and bottles.  There’s just so much stuff. Will my not buying a loaf of bread make a difference?

Food embargo time?
Food that used to make me feel cultured now makes me feel guilty. I see imported cheese and have a mixed reaction.  I still want the Swiss Gruyere from Switzerland — but now I have to wonder is deliciousness  worth the environmental damage? I guess imported is off my shopping list. Even as I write this sentence, I feel proseletizing — I’m boring myself.

Urban selection
Part of the joy of living in the city is the excitement of having options — different foods, music, theater, people, everything. Does trying to be sustainable paint me into some sort of boring box. The word provincial technically means that a person is restricted in the way they think about things. That includes palate. When I used to to says, that person’s taste in food is so provincial, it wasn’t a compliment.

Problems, problems, problems
Part of what’s going on is that each one of these silly little day-to-day connundrums sends me in a panic. The anxiety of rethinking every detail of my life.

Do I pick up a bottle of water from the store when a friend asks?
Do I say, we can’t have lunch in this restaurant in the park because they’re serving food in take out containers?

Yesterday, when these two little puzzlers came up, I opted for the polite and just went with it. Then I felt bad.

In truth, these are teachable moments. For other people and myself. I love that restaurant in the park. I wonder if I said, I can’t eat here because you use take out containers, if they would rethink the issue. If everyone stopped going because we didn’t want to have a side of garbage with our lentil soup, they would have to.

Sustainable Actions
It seems that it takes a lot to make us shift our perspective. Yesterday I blogged about how I am not going to buy certain things once they run out. Right now my list includes aluminum foil, paper towels, napkins, plastic wrap, plastic bags. I was thinking of adding toilet paper in honor of No Impact Man, but I need to see what they actually used — but not giving it up completely if we run out. I thought I’d just make them go without for a day.

As a parent, I want to make my children feel that they are safe and that I can provide for them. I think it’s hard for them to really understand what not having could really mean.

Right now, we think we have a choice to be green. Or how green to be. We really aren’t getting in a tangible way how our choice to not be green is a choice to go without. Even I don’t really get it — I’m still whining like a baby that I can’t have a cup of coffee or get take out at lunch.

I think this little “Earth Day”  experiment could help. I haven’t told the kids yet. Stay tuned for their reaction.

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Ok. I’ll admit it. I’m tired. Tonight when I got home from work I baked bread. One of my attempts to be sustainable is to cut down the amount of supermarket related garbage I consume.Baking bread felt like something I could do, and would want to do, too.  I figure it I actually want to do it, it’s more likely it will get done.

There are some things that sound hard to make, but really aren’t. Breads is one of them. I know it sounds a little wacko, but actually it’s pretty easy. It just takes time and planning.

I’ve been planning to make bread since Sunday. But it wasn’t until tonight, when I made a choice to make it my priority that it actually happened. And even then, it almost didn’t.

I made an Irish Soda Bread  — a recipe I made for the first time a few months ago. I was surprised at how easy and quick it was. And the kids went crazy. Blaise went on and on about how it was the best bread ever. He wanted me to go into the bread making business. (The whole world’s a lemonade stand for Blaise.)

Organic whole wheat or multi-grain bread costs me between $3 and $5  a loaf. Plus, it tends to be mealy and the crust crumbles. I found one small batch bakery that Whole Foods sells that isn’t bad — I may buy that on occasion as a special treat, But other than that, the bread isn’t great and it isn’t cheap.

Even buying organic flour, I’m figuring the bread should cost me about $2.50 a baking. And the loaves are quite large — definitely enough to last more than a week.

Irish Soda Bread is a non- yeast bread. The bread rises because of the chemical reaction between buttermilk and baking soda. Apparently you can use regular milk and baking powder as well. I’m a bit skeptical that the taste will be as good — I’ve had bad experiences with baking powder. It can make baked goods taste medicinal. But I might try it, just to see.

I’ve always made Irish Soda Bread with buttermilk. But buttermilk can be a pain to keep on hand. Tonight I had about enough for a third of the batch. The cookbook said I could use sour milk instead of buttermilk. Ok, but was is sour milk? After a quick consultation with my father, who is a chemist, and a  little surfing, I found a recipe for sour milk — 1 TB of lemon juice to 1 cup milk. Wait til it curdles and voila — you’ve created a buttermilk substitute.

This recipe,which I’ll post tomorrow, is pretty forgiving. I mixed in the milk to the honking bowl of flour (almost 8 cups altogether) and the batter was too dry. It was wet enough to form a pretty hefty size loaf, but there was a lot of flour in the bowl. I added the optional egg to that second batch and made another cup of sour milk.

Although the breads actually both tasted the same, the one with the egg had a more bread-like consistency. It was easier to slice and I think will make a better sandwich bread.

All and all, it only takes about 20 minutes to mix and knead the bread. Then it takes another 40 or so to bake it. It’s not a lot of time, but its another thing for my to -do list. Also, learning how to make sour milk means I don’t have to worry about finding grass fed buttermilk. That would have been hard to track down and pricey if I did.

I am definitely choosing weird stuff to be fixated on. For example. I baked bread today, but I used a paper cup for coffee. There was vendor at work and I just forgot. I could have easily gone in to my office for my mug, but I didn’t. I’m also still not buying local produce. My escarole came from California. My organic apples from Washington State.

My priority has been to buy as much organic as I could afford. Whole Foods has been my best bet.

But so much of what I’m doing now is just opening my eyes to all the options there are around me. For example, there is a Farmer’s Market in Inwood, just up the block from me, every Saturday. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over 12 years, I’ve never gone. Apparently there’s a Greenmarket at the Port Authority every Thursday form 8-6. I commute through the Port Authority twice a day — how did I not know?

The thing is that I am not a complete novice to thinking outside the supermarket box. Yet, I am still completely unaware of all the opportunities and options the city has to offer. It’s partly information overload, and it’s partly a matter of priorities.

Another reason I think we don’t prioritize being green is because we think of it as being optional. Intellectually we know we will run out of gas in 40 years and that global warming is happening. Yet for some reason it’s not impactful. Even if the winters are colder and the summers are warmer, we can still get a cup of coffee for $2 that makes us feel civilized and rewarded.

I made a commitment not to buy more aluminum foil or plastic wrap or plastic bags. So when it’s gone it’s gone. I’m finding that you can wash off a piece of plastic wrap and re-use it over and over again.  I said to John, “How come we never knew that?” and he looked at me like I was stupid. “It’s just easier to throw it away,” he said.

For me, the shifting my cooking options is easier to do. I like cooking. I’ve always liked to cook from scratch.  For me, there’s a lot of going back to how I used to do things before I had kids going on.

It’s also good because the kids are involved and interested — it means I’m passing on to the next generation a deeper  knowledge of food.  They’ve helped make bread. They know it’s possible. Connecting to how staple foods in life are grown and made is important — especially for kids  It’s one thing to know that buying bread is easier than baking it. It’s another to think baking bread is too hard for the average person to do.

It’s would be scary if everyone thought only the supermarket holds all the secrets of creating cuisine. I want to be sustainable, not only for the planet, but for my own day to day survival. But again, I’m not the first to talk about this — there’s a whole “Take Back the Plate” movement.

But here’s what I’ve learned in the  last week or two — there’s a lot of info out there, figuring out what’s right for you is hard enough, but  shifting to put that believ into practice is not as easy as it sounds.

But for this evening, at least, I managed

Lisa’s List of Things That Are Easy To Make At Home

  • Salad dressing
  • Bread
  • Sour milk
  • Salsa
  • Humus
  • Guacamole (ok, I know we don’t live in an avocado zone)
  • Soup stock
  • Tomato sauce
  • Soup

(Hopefully I will be putting yogurt and seltzer on this list soon!)

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