You probably have heard the terms sustainable and sustainability several times in your life and much more in the past years. But do you know what sustainable means?
According to the online Cambridge dictionary, sustainable is an adjective that indicates, among other meanings, “causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.” It’s related to the noun sustainability, which is “the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.”
Sustainable cooking: choose to change your habits.
Are you willing to commit to yourself to cause less damage to the environment and keep doing it for a long time?
THE FOUR PILLARS OF SUSTAINABILITY
Sustainability applies to many different areas, from industry to our daily habits. There are four main pillars of sustainability that includes all the areas:
Environmental sustainability aims to improve human welfare by protecting natural capital (e.g., land, air, water, minerals, etc.).
Economic sustainability aims to maintain the capital intact; the main goal is to improve the standard of living.
Social sustainability aims to preserve social capital by investing and creating services that constitute our society’s framework. It heads to preserve future generations and acknowledge that what we do can impact others and the world. Social sustainability focuses on maintaining and improving social quality with concepts such as cohesion, reciprocity and honesty, and the importance of relationships among people.
Human sustainability aims to maintain and improve the human capital in society. Investments in the health and education systems, access to services, nutrition, knowledge, and skills are all programs under the umbrella of human sustainability.
Now that we had a quick sight to understand the global concept, a good question would be: “What does it have to do with cooking?”.
The answer is: everything.
Being sustainable is a choice of lifestyle, and it includes several aspects of our daily life. We can choose to adopt sustainable habits. And that’s includes cooking, among all the others.
SUSTAINABLE COOKING: HOW TO CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE HABITS
Knowing that sustainability is a significant term that includes actions and decisions much more prominent than ordinary people’s daily choices, it can be overwhelming to decide to have a sustainable lifestyle. It’s an understandable human reaction; I went through the same feeling too.
My advice is the same I give during my cooking classes to people who feel uncomfortable and scared in the kitchen: start small. Focus on one little thing at a time until you feel confident, then you can take one more little step.
The first step, or at least the one that works for me when I decide to embrace a new learning adventure, is to acknowledge. Choosing sustainable cooking means being aware of the ingredients you buy, where they come from, and where you buy them. Is the fruit that you want to buy growing naturally in this period of the year in your country? Can you buy it from a local farmer or do you go shopping in the big supermarket chains?
In my opinion, the process of acknowledging must be free from all prejudice and judgment. It’s a reality that in many cities buying from a small local business is more expensive than buying the same item from a supermarket. Another real situation that many of us share is we don’t always have time to go shopping in different places, and we may need to buy everything in the same place. In some cities, we may have to drive to get to various shops. And other situations that make us decide to go to one big supermarket and then come back home. And that’s ok. We don’t have to feel judged. We need to be aware, but that doesn’t mean that we have to upset all our habits today.
Once you feel more informed and made yourself a personal opinion about the topic, you can see if you can take a little step to improve your cooking habits. For example, you keep going to the big supermarket, but you buy seasonal vegetables and fruits. I am not entirely against big supermarkets; many people have a job thanks to them. I want you to start reflecting on tiny but essential steps.
When you are choosing the food that you will cook, look at the packaging.
Do you need to buy the cherry tomatoes in the plastic packaging, or there is the option to buy by weight?
Is this plastic packaging suitable for recycling?
If you can buy them by weight, you’ll have to put them in a bag: you can use the plastic bags offered by the supermarket, or you can bring your own bag. And even if you choose the supermarket plastic bag, you can use it for your garage can.
Then, you’re ready to start cooking. To approach sustainable cooking, ask yourself these questions.
Do you peel your vegetable before use, or do you wash it carefully and then cook and eat every part of it?
What do you do with the peels and skins of the vegetable that you peeled?
All the food that we don’t use becomes food waste, and that’s a big injustice for the environment itself, for those who don’t have the privilege to throw food, and for ourselves, because we’re losing gold. Besides, waste disposal is a mechanism that often damages our planet, and it often involves non-legitimate associations and practices.
I used to destinate to the garbage almost everything that wasn’t the “flesh” of the food: onion peel, potato peel, fish bones, chicken skin, fruit skins. Then, I started discovering delicious recipes that are made from “scraps”. It changed my life for three reasons!
I taste new exciting and delicious flavors
I save money because I took advantage of one food than before, so I could use if for more meals
I am on a sustainable path that makes me feel proud of myself
A little change can bring us healthy, economic, and mental benefits!
Sustainable cooking is a whole fascinating word, and we should explore it little by little like an adventure. For us, it can be a small change of directions in our cooking and shopping habits, but it has a higher-scale impact. My opinion is that individuals can’t carry on their shoulders alone the weight of saving the Earth: governments and big corporations must be the first to stand and choose to take a sustainable direction.
On our side, we can choose sustainable cooking to respect our planet and the people involved in the food industry to improve our health quality while we do what we can to protect the Earth. We all can be food heroes.