Friday, November 19, 2010

Changes in the Kitchen

Some of you may be familiar with the One Small Change blog community, which endeavors to make one change each month to make your lifestyle lower impact on the environment. Can one small change really make a difference?

It occurred to me today that all the small changes really add up, as our cooking and eating habits have really changed around here. Many small changes add up.

1. We are eating vegetarian more often than not, and that has led to lots of beans. We're all champs at digesting beans.

2. I was dismayed to learn about BPA's in the lining of canned goods, but really - cans and canning just adds more environmental impact anyway. So I switched over to cooking dry beans from scratch. We have a beanpot in the slow cooker about once a week, and then we have some left-over beans for other uses in the days after.

3. When we do eat meat, we are eating different sorts of meat. We buy our beef and pork almost exclusively from a local ethical meat shop. It's more expensive, but we can go out and visit the farm and know how the animals are treated. We also try to buy all the parts of the animals - beef knuckles in the beanpots and so forth. Waste not.

4. I heard a story on NPR about how chicken wings used to be a cheap dish that used a part of the chicken that no one else wanted. And then when they got popular, suddenly they had to increase chicken production just for this one little part. It seemed so wrong, so I decided that from then on I would only buy and cook whole birds. This was hard at first, and drastically changed how often we eat poultry. But if I roast a turkey or a chicken, I then get left-over poultry for other dishes and broth made from the bones and bits.

5. No more deli meat. It's full of preservatives, and it's expensive. I make sandwiches for lunches with the left-over meat that I have cooked myself. If I've roasted a turkey, we'll have turkey sandwiches for a week. If I make a pot roast, roast sandwiches. If there is no meat, we will have peanut butter and jelly - and no one complains about that.

6. We got a cool set-up from a local bakery share program, where we pay up front and then pick up a "share" once a week. The woman who runs it uses local, mostly organic ingredients, and we also get ours gluten-free. There are plastic bags around everything, but if she needs a stiff container she uses plates from the Goodwill that we return to her to reuse.

7. Without the need to bake very much, and by kicking a lot of my sweet tooth problem, we are using a lot less refined sugar. So, we can afford to only buy fair trade and organic sugar, for the rare times we need some (like brown sugar sprinkled on our oatmeal).

8. We have so much bread and baked goodies from the bakery share that we usually eat bread with nut spread for breakfast, and avoid other more processed breakfast foods and cereals.

9. Between the backyard garden and the CSA share, we have tons of vegetables. We have to think of ways to eat them all, tucking them into dishes and eating lots of salads and vegetable casseroles. What we can't eat, I try to freeze for the winter. What I don't manage to get to in time, we feed to our chickens or compost.

10. I pack everyone a lunch, and we take our dinner left-overs or sandwiches, in reusable containers. If I end up using a ziplock, I wash it and dry it and reuse it. I also made some cloth snack bags that we can wash and reuse.

Small changes have really added up, don't you think?


  1. Good for you! All those small changes make a huge difference!

    I recently met a family that doesn't use paper towels. At all! They inspired me to try to kick the paper towel habit and use cloth instead.

  2. Go for it! We don't use any paper towels here - haven't for years. Instead we use cloth rags and wash them. It took some getting used to for my husband, but now we don't even notice!

  3. Awesome changes! I feel inspired to try your bean pot idea, especially now that we are back to seasonal rice and beans at least once a week.