Other Friday Fugues here have focussed on Bookish Books and Epistolary Works, this year’s Friday Fugue is A Fainter Footprint. As in, leaving a fainter footprint behind, ecologically speaking.
To date, there has been much talk of recent cookbooks, those which are light on resources but heavy on flavour and table-appeal.
Clotilde Dusoulier’s The French Market Cookbook (2013)
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes (2013)
Mark Bittman’s VB6 (2013)
Miriam Sorrell’s Mouthwatering Vegan (2013)
Behind the scenes, there has been much page-turning, however. There have been a great many books published on this subject – and related issues – since I last read in this vein.
Although I was expecting something more food-focussed here, Kate Heyhoe’s book takes a different approach, one which did get me thinking in new ways about how we use energy in our kitchen.
Yes, reducing the amount of meat one consumes. And, yes, the question of local growers. And energy-efficient appliances. All that I was expecting.
But there it is: 12% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the US result from growing, preparing and shipping food.
So, what I was not expecting? The emphasis on food preparation.
“What do you call the impact you make on the planet when you cook? It’s your cookprint – the entire chain of resources used to prepare meals, and the waste produced in the process.”
Without realizing it, over the past year I have adopted a habit which does inherently reduce the resources required for our household food prep. But, admittedly, it was out of laziness rather than ethical considerations.
On days when I was working at home, I began taking out from the fridge the leftovers which I aimed to have for lunch and leaving them on the counter to reach room temperature. I didn’t mind consuming them unheated and this way I avoided last-minute panic when it was three o’clock and I’d forgotten to eat, but then, starving, had to stop to heat the oven, muck about with pot-holders, and attend until it was warm.
There are all sorts of small changes recommended in this book which work towards a fainter cookprint. What works for me? Portioning a recipe to cook in two smaller pans rather than a single large (e.g. lasagne). Keep the fridge tidy to reduce the time it takes to find items therein. Fill both racks in the oven with roasting veggies instead of a single rack. Glass and ceramic cookware allows for you to reduce the cooking temperature by about 25 degrees F (or shortens cooking time).
Now that I think about it, a lot of the suggestions she makes are common sense, but I needed to have them pointed out to me. And, most of all, I needed a nudge to consider that preparation was a part of my footprint, er cookprint.
I’ve also enjoyed Joanna Yarrow’s How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: 365 Simple Ways to Save Energy, Resources, and Money (2008).
Its tidy format and clip-art-styled presentation make this slim (light-on-resources) volume easy to browse through on an afternoon. Much of the material is familiar, if you’ve been reading about reducing your carbon footprint, but the facts relayed are succinct and the format invites you to peruse topics that you might be inclined to skip through in a text-heavy publication on the same subject.
Ideas that I hadn’t considered, but which felt fresh in this context?
Bicycle couriers rather than automobile couriers. (I know this is an option in this city, but I haven’t thought to explore it.)
The idea of using old magazines as gift wrap, (I’ve used the funnies, but we don’t receive a newspaper at home anymore and there are some magazines that I receive here that I can’t find second readers for locally, and now that we no longer live right downtown, putting them to the curb no longer yields random new readers.)
And although I knew that unplugging charger units was a smart idea, having the stats for a cell phone’s charger isolated has finally broken me of the habit of loosening the phone from the charger and leaving the charger in the outlet.
I would like to add a fictional element to my Fainter Footprint Fridays.
Any suggestions? Fictional or otherwise?