With all the current discussion about climate change, I've been reflecting more on how the individual can actively reduce their carbon footprint. In America, we live in a culture of consumption, and we are the second leading source of carbon emissions in the world, behind China.
The United States has recently set a goal to cut food waste down by 50% by 2030. Currently, we waste 30% of the food we consume.
There is a culinary movement, spearheaded by chefs such as Dan Barber of Blue Hill Stone Barns and Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defense Council, to rethink our approach to food in the kitchen, and to use food seen as unattractive or scraps for yet one more meal. This is not only the most cost-effective solution for you and your family and for businesses - it presents an opportunity to be adventurous in the kitchen, and expand your culinary horizons.
Cheese is a tradition founded in the preservation of milk. It was born from the need to save the nutritional benefits of milk for longer, without refrigeration. As the world becomes more populated and resources become more precious, why not apply this survivalist mentality of nomadic yesteryear to our current food landscape? Industrial cow dairies have been targeted for their massive carbon footprint as well, but smaller to medium sized herds on sustainably managed property is a far better impact on the environment over time.
When I have guests over, they are often surprised by the scarcity of my refrigerator. I'm an avid cook, but I am also a stickler for using up every ingredient, and planning my meals around what I have. I know this methodology takes a little more culinary confidence or aptitude, and it may seem intimidating to some to start. So let's start sharing our food scrap recipes, and get over our consumer shame of making something out of nothing. We don't need refrigerators brimming over with food to make a meal memorable, or to reflect a certain level of value in our consumption patterns.
I'll start here.
Simple Cast-Iron Cheese with Roasted Vegetables
Occasionally, I'll receive an overripe wheel of cheese with a cracked rind. Perhaps the rind is a little tough. I'll notice I have a few sprigs of herbs in the refrigerator that are begging to be used. Just add olive oil, broil in oven, and you have your own cheese dip for a party of 4. This is best served with any vegetables lying around that need a good roast: potatoes, brussel sprouts, shallots, garlic, and onions, to name a few.