Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Cook on . . . it’s green

We emphasize local/seasonal food on this blog, which implies the importance of cooking. Maybe we need to declare it more emphatically, champion the act of cooking in the same way we champion the use of local/seasonal ingredients, carpooling and unplugging electronics. Cooking meals from scratch is a sustainable act. Buy whole fresh food, put on an apron, turn on the tunes and get cookin’. Use seasonal and local ingredients when you can, but the cooking itself is part of living green too.

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The other side of the coin are prepackaged, processed food-like substances. Two NY Times articles got me going: one was about a father who cooks with his four-year old son almost daily (Fry Daddy); the other about the biggest challenge for Biggest Losers (tv show) is teaching contestants how to shop for and cook healthy meals from scratch (In Kitchen, ‘Losers’ Start From Scratch).  From different points of view, each article implies the powerful relationship of food and cooking to our own health and that of the planet, its impact on building community.  Bringing our kids along for that ride is part of the deal.

And whole food? Michael Pollan, trying to condense and simplify how one might approach identifying real food, says to buy only what our great-grandmothers would recognize.  Pop tarts and tater tots might not pass the test.

Not everyone knows how to or even wants to cook, which is a challenge for those wanting to maintain a relatively green lifestyle. Cooking was part of my family’s culture. My mother and father both cooked, grandmothers and grandfather, and now my brother and I and our kids too. Good fortune I think. Life’s sweetest moments are gatherings around a dinner table and the conversational banter that happens when bellies and hearts are satisfied with food homemade – some of it anyway.

Check this out, the article and video.  For Dinner (& Fast), the Taste of Home


What are fast meals with a sustainable conscience?  What if you want to live more sustainably, but aren’t that interested or have little time?  For reluctant or time-challenged cooks out there, would it be helpful if we posted entire meals occasionally instead of  independent recipes?

Originally posted February 16, 2009. Just Cooking.

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4 Responses »

  1. Like you, I’ve grown up with always cooking – we really never did dinners out or convenience/fast food, simply because my family was/is used to the standard Indian fare my parents grew up with. So I have that heavy influence, and I still eat and cook at home almost all the time. Basic kitchen essentials include beans (I get the dry in masses and then cook a big amount each weekend so it is on hand during the week), bread I’ve also done on the weekend. Veg I have down quickly to prepare, usually in 15 minutes or so, just because it doesn’t require much thought when I make use of standby recipes I know by heart and can mix up for variety. The other thing is just *making* time to cook, just as one might wake up 1 hr earlier to make time to go to the gym. It feels good to have a meal prepared by your own hands, and it seems actually more relaxing after a rough day than convenience or fast food take-away might be.

  2. Mangochild, thanks for sharing your own habits of cooking. I also think that it’s one of those things that you commit to. Not a decision to be grappled with every day, but one that can be made once and emphatically: I cook for myself most of the time. Period.

  3. I, too, grew up in a household where we not only cooked our own food, we grew it, canned it, froze it, gave it as gifts, and basically thrived on it. Now that I live in a little condo in a metropolitan area and work 50+ hours a week, it’s hard to find the time to purchase local, organic and sustainable food and to prepare it on a daily basis (let alone the room to store said food and the various instruments required for preparation). I would absolutely appreciate any offerings you have for meals (especially easy, one dish meals). I must admit that I can get in a sauteed kale rut.

    Thank you, thank you for always considering what your readers might like. I am inspired by your posts on local foods and resources as well as your lovely pictures.

  4. Wendi, we’re on it. We’ll definitely feature some one-dish fast meals in the future. I think a lot of people would like to cook from scratch more often, but time and energy are limited. End of day weariness makes it hard to imagine an hour in the kitchen making a good dinner, but 20 minutes might be doable.
    Thanks so much for your encouragement and for explicit input about your own cooking challenges.