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Earth day - Ideas for eating low carb-on?

I need ideas for how to eat the most earth-friendly way today ... which, of course means eating local.

The best way is to eat at home, but the SO is working on the kitchen so can't cook and must eat out.

Quite honestly, I can't think of anything to do but head for Chez Panisse or some other upscale joint that uses organic ingrediants.

I mean, it sort of cuts out my beloved dives because that mom and pop breakfast joint, Mexican taqueria, Chinese restaurant most likely ain't using organic or local stuff. They are buying the least expensive food or Sysco type of stuff trucked from who knows where.

Or are they such bad choices?

I know at least at Mexican joints, though they don't use the word 'artisan', the tortillas and pan dulce is made locally and not trucked from some place. The corn, sugar and flour might not be local, but the assembly is.

My understanding is a lot of Chinese restaurants will use maybe local chickens? It is likely that the veggies, while not organic are grown locally. And being California, the rice might be local, right?

Even in the upscale places it kind of eliminates a lot of food ... no coffee or tea ... no desserts using sugar... no bread because the wheat probably wasn't grown locally. Fortunately I live in California so I can spend the day drinking wine.

For breakfast this morning it wasn't the usual coffee and bowl of oatmeal because none of those is local. It was milk and an orange. I'm cranky withouth my coffee, but I'd be even crankier if it would no longer be available due to climate changes.

On the good side, no HFCS products today.

One of the things I never hear mentioned in global warming is how food growing regions could change. Will someday the sunny lush French countryside move up to Iceland? Will Alaska be growing our oranges? Already producing maple syrup is starting to move northward to Canada out of Vermont. Nobody mentions the "F" word either ... famine.

So I figure eating low-carb today, for me, might make me think about global warming in terms of food.

Ideas ... for eating today? What to eat? What not to eat? Yeah, no French cheese for me today.

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  1. This is probably coming too late, but what the heck...If you know a place that uses ingredients that fit your criteria, but is a dive in the sense that it's to go containers are un acceptable, you could take your own semi-resuable dishware. I often take my own tupperware containers to the local market and deli. At a few local restaurants I will place my to go order in person and hand them my containers (a side note: mason jars are a wonderful way to prevent spilling in your car, and the unwanted lingering odors). Some people scoff at this "tacky" gesture, so if this isn't for you, I hope you at least get a chucke out the silly lengths some of us tree-huggers go. By the way, I truly commend you for at least thinking "green," and even knowing that today IS Earth Day after all :)

    EB

    1 Reply
    1. re: enbell

      I decided to go with the Mexican street vendors that wander about in my area. While the ingrediants probably weren't local, they were assembled locally and I didn't need to burn gas driving to a restaurant. The vendors push their carts down streets. So I had a tamale, ear of corn and some chopped fresh fruit with chile ... the latter not at all a good idea with mango, papaya and pineapple. But I thought about what it would be like without those fruits if that helps at all.

      That's probably another idea ... patronizing the restaurants closest to our homes to save gas. Some of those places passed everday without thought have hidden gems.

      One of the shows I was watching mentioned bringing your own containers. I'm actually liking that idea and might try it the next time I get take-out from a deli or restaurant. Thanks. Your post gave me the incentive to give that a try. Also, for salads I would get the exact amount that I need.

    2. Get a water filter and stop buying bottled water from today forward! I banished it from my home years ago - long before Alice Water's recent decision to stop serving it at Chez Panisse. Made me feel like such a trend setter!
      The bottles are made from petroleum using energy, transported by vehicles using energy, including forklifts in warehouses, sold from stores heated and cooled by energy, refrigerated using energy in convenience stores. The empties go to landfills or, if they are recycled, the trucks picking them up use energy to transport them to plants that use energy to recycle them. Quite a carbon footprint!
      Perfectly safe, potable water comes out of your tap. Four out of five children in the world don't have potable water and thousands die each day from diseases that are transmitted through unclean water.
      Filter your water and use a nalgene bottle. Give some of the money you save to a charity that will help bring clean water to the developing world.

      11 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        Just curious what others do to "go green" when they dine or when they shop for food.

        1. re: MakingSense

          Thanks, I started a topic on earth-friendly cookware and food containers.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394443

          1. re: MakingSense

            The OP is lucky enough to live in San Francisco, I think. And honestly, if you live in San Francisco you don't need bottled water OR a water filter!!! Some of the best water on the planet comes out of the taps of that town, IMO. Same with where I live....Of course, we all have to do what we can to make sure it stays that way....

            1. re: MakingSense

              I think this is a great idea in theory, and please know I drink tap water, but many it's also important to know about where your local water is processed and their source. Tap water where I live is from a highly polluted, abused, and very nearly dead river, and while it's likely safe, it's not what I'd call appealing.

              1. re: amyzan

                I agree. At best some sources of water is in theory potable. When I lived in the San Diego area, I could not drink the tap water because it was so skunky. I was outraged to be forced to buy bottled water and/or my own water filter. Water is not a luxury item and what comes from our tap should be drinkable. In San Diego it is not.

                Janetofreno is only partially right about the water in my area. It tastes fine. However, I am currently in the East Bay rather than SF and it is a different supply from the city. My tap water is recyled waste water.

                1. re: rworange

                  rw, what makes you say your tap water is recycled wastewater? I think you might be mistaken or mispoken? There are no water agencies in the SF Bay Area, let alone CA or the country, that is using recycled wastewater for drinking water, at the moment. The closest to this idea is that in Southern Cal, they are recharging groundwater aquifers with advanced treated recycled water.

                  If you tell me your water company, I can tell you where your water comes from. You might actually be getting a portion of Hetch hetchy water, the high quality nice tasting water SF gets.

                  Back to your original topic, I commend you for thinking of eating low carb-on on Earth Day. I'm seconding kerdragon's suggestion of eating low on the food chain. Pound for pound of carbon, organic veggies are a much lower carbon footprint than even sustainably raised beef.

                  1. re: Alice Patis

                    East Bay MUD ... There's a scary name. I'm meeting the guy who told me this last week. He's usually a highly reliable source of info. I was ranting about Austrailia might have to derive its water from waste water and he said EBMUD already does that and we don't get our water from Hetch Hetchy. Tastes good though. Much better than San Diego water.

              2. re: MakingSense

                I understand that Chez Panisse is no longer serving pre-bottled carbonated water, either - the restaurant has acquired a water carbonating machine and is making their own.

                This has given me the idea to head to my local restaurant supply store to purchase an old-fasioned seltzer maker.

                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                    There was an article last year about a school district (I think in CA) that has banned bottled water. They installed taps for filtered water and the kids have to provide their own bottles. They did it on environmental grounds.

                    Same reason Alice Waters has done it at Chez Panisse. It eliminates a high-profit item from her restaurant but she's willing to stand on principle. I hope her idea catches on as so many of her others have.

                    Drives me nuts, just nuts, after meetings, parties and sporting events when we clean up and there are bottles of water with only sips out of them or half-drunk. What a waste! My secretary used them to water the office plants and finally just bought a Brita filter, nice pitchers and drinking glasses which we washed. (She got a raise.)

                1. Well, too late for Earth Day, but I suppose every day should be Earth Day...

                  Once hubby and I realized that it was going to be nice on Sunday, we took a long walk at Crissy Field. Interestingly, there was some sort of an Earth Day event going on, though it didn't appear to be very well attended, we peaked at a few booths...but since we were at Crissy Field, we could do our part: by rewarding ourselves at the half way point of our walk with an all-beef, grass-fed, hormone and no added nitrates, and locally produced Let's Be Frank hot dog from the Let's Be Frank stand! Yumm! motivates me to walk a mile or so each way from the East Beach parking lot...(it is just too bad that we have to take the car from our house to get there, but hey, three of us:hubby,me, and the dog in the smallest hybrid no longer made, is better than most).

                  BTW, I guess it has been a while since I was at Chrissy Field, because I didn't realize that the Warming Hut has been shut since a fire in late January. All the more reason to stop at the LBF stand for a dog and a drink. Wish they'd change brands of root beer though: they use Eli's, which has no HFCS, a good thing, but perhaps compensates with too much cane sugar (it is sweeter than I like a root beer to be).

                  Let's be Frank hot dogs:

                  http://www.letsbefrankdogs.com/our_ho...

                  1. I wouldn't stop patronizing your favorite places, especially if they're local. Eating less meat is one of the best ways I know to be green. I'm not a vegetarian by any means, but I do try to eat low on the food chain much of the time. And eating there instead of getting takeout is usually less wasteful.

                    1. Chipotle claims that they use organic beef. And of course Walmart markets organic products. So those are two choices.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: PeterL

                        Eat more beef. Cows produce a lot of methane and grass fed cows eat a lot of plants that produce O2 so more CO2

                      2. Plant something of your own. If you don't have a yard, you can easily grow tomatoes or citrus in a container on the patio or even herbs in a windowbox. If you do have a patch of dirt, start planting.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                          I planted two herb boxes yesterday. First time I've had my hands in the dirt in a while. Felt good.

                          1. re: mojoeater

                            Good for you! I'm advocating for a return to the "Victory Garden"....I know I can't produce everything I eat, but it is terrible to see all those suburban lawns devoted to grass monoculture (with ridiculous amounts of chemicals poured onto them, often more pounds per acre than croplands). Dig up some of that grass and grow some food, people!

                        2. rworange, I love the thread you've started, but I feel that I must respond to something you've written: "Already producing maple syrup is starting to move northward to Canada out of Vermont. " The Canadian province of Quebec borders Vermont and it, together with its neighbouring province, Ontario, have maple syrup producing histories that are just as old, if not older, than those of Vermont. Remember what the Canadian flag looks like? It's a maple leaf, no less.

                          Also (and I know I'm a day late), unless you intend to follow the 100-mile-diet exclusively, eating local/fresh should not mean giving up your beloved coffee, or your olive oil, or your bananas. Most proponents of local eating understand that we should all be doing what we can, within reason, whenever possible. Go ahead and have that cup of java - just make sure the beans have been fairly traded - and relax.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: FlavoursGal

                            Yeah, the coffee thing and other stuff was just a Earth Day thing ... to think about what life would be like if these products were no longer available. Imagine what a trip to a grocery store would be like without so many of the products we take for granted.

                            And say the climate becomes too extreme in the sugar-growing regions. There might not even be honey available as a sweetener. Honey bees are dying off ... which might affect all the fruits that are polinated by the bees. I guess there's always HFCS.

                            As to the maple syrup, I meant that it has been reported that because the winters are warmer and shorter there has been a prediction that Vermont may soon no longer produce maple syrup. All maple syrup would come from Canada ... unless that warms up too much.

                            It's wierd. There was an old Twilight Zone episode ... and I mean old ... black & white ... before the word environmenalism existed ... where there were extreme climate changes. I remember this scene where the guy looks at a painting as the paint melts off the canvas. While that is not our scenario ... I hope ... it always seemed Rod was a little ahead of his time.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I don't recall that particular episode, but Twilight Zone, along with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, was my favourite T.V. show.

                              As for coffee, chocolate and other consumer products purchased in Third World countries, the growers'/producers' dependance on our trade in these commodities is such that, should this trade be diminished, it would wreak havoc on the economies and the well-being of citizens in these nations. Not something anyone wants to create.

                              1. re: rworange

                                Rest easy on the sugar thing: Sugarcane grows within 2 miles of my house in Louisiana. It loves heat; global warming will only expand its range. Whenever the 100-mile diet comes up, I feel blessed to live in a biologically diverse, warm, coastal part of the country....if I scaled back to 100-mile eating, I'd have to give up coffee, pineapples, and mangos, but that's about it.

                            2. One of my friends, Dr. Pam Martin of U of Chicago, co-authored a paper on this very thing. Here's an article:
                              http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/060511/...

                              The gist is that vegan and vegetarian are lowest carbon-producing, chicken is ok, beef and fish are highest carbon-producing overall. I guess the biggest surprise there is the fish.

                              1 Reply