Eco-Tip of the Week: Celebrating National Culinary Month at Home

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It’s not the most well-known month dedication, but apparently, July is National Culinary Arts Month.  Though this four week celebration focuses on celebrating professional cooks and chefs, we thought we’d pay homage to the good old tradition of cooking at home.   Making your own food not only reduces waste, but it also gives you control over your food—so that you can buy your own, local organic ingredients and avoid pesticides.

Some of us here at CEH are quite into experimenting with different recipes to make tasty dishes with organic ingredients.  So, we’ve compiled a list of some of our safe food practices, and a recipe or two, for this month’s culinary recognition.

1. Stick to seasonal organics: While CEH and other groups push against approval of the toxic chemical methyl iodide for use on California strawberry fields, the final decision of whether or not to approve the toxic soil fumigant is still up in the air.   Even before methyl iodide gets used on strawberries (hopefully it won’t!), there are lots of other scary pesticides being used right now. The #1 pesticide used to grow California strawberries is chloropicrin, a chemical that EPA says is severely irritating and corrosive.  The #2 pesticide is methyl bromide, a chemical that is stunningly capable of doing in the protective ozone layer high above us. And so on; there are dozens of other strawberry pesticides. Buy local, buy organic, and reduce the use of these poisons.

Since we’re in the midst of strawberry season right now, it’s a great time to make this quick and simple Strawberry and Arugula Salad:

6 cups fresh arugula leaves

1 cup fresh strawberries

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

Put arugula in a large salad bowl. Slice strawberries and add to salad. In a small bowl whisk together mustard and lemon juice. Add a healthy pinch of salt and lots of fresh pepper. Slowly stream in olive oil while whisking.

Toss dressing with salad and serve.

2. Cook with safe, non-toxic kitchenware: When cooking at home, it’s important to be aware of the chemicals that can be present in many popular kitchen items. Toxics like lead and cadmium can be found in various glazes and decorative coloring in some dishes.  See our lead in dishware page and our previous post to learn more about toxics in kitchenware products for more information. You can also check out the factsheet from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy for some great hints about plastics.

3.  Compost, compost, compost: Composting is not a lot of work, reduces the amount of stuff we send to our landfills, and improves your garden. All at the same time!  Click here for information about composting. You can also give your local waste management agency a call and find out about curbside collection of compostable materials in your community or other compost options.

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Ali manages the website and coordinates the online communications of CEH. She works with the communications and development staff to create messaging strategies and public education content for CEH’s supporters and online audience. A Bay Area native, Ali attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received a B.A. in Sociology and Cultural Studies. This allowed her to live abroad in Argentina, where she studied Latin American history and learned valuable Spanish language skills. Ali is thrilled to be part of an organization that advocates for healthy communities so effectively.