What do the words ‘Earth Day and ‘Go Green’ mean to you? Maybe you bring your cloth, reusable bags to the grocery store, recycle your plastic bottles and buy organic produce when you can. Let’s take a step further and build an eco-friendly kitchen to keep you and your family healthy.
Choosing Healthy Cookware and Cooking Methods
If you have pots coated with a non-stick surface I suggest replacing them with stainless steel. The chemicals which create the slippery, non-stick surface emit noxious gases and toxic fumes when heated to high temperatures. My clients ask me, “Samadhi, if you don’t recommend non-stick pans, how should I cook my eggs?” I recommend that eggs be poached or soft boiled, rather than fried or scrambled. As for other items usually prepared in a non-stick pan, I suggest steaming, baking or boiling your food to slowly cook it at lower temperatures and preserve the health benefits. Toxic, non-stick chemicals are also found in some fast food wrappers, pizza boxes and microwavable popcorn bags.
Choosing Alternatives to Plastic
The use of plastic is a growing concern for the environment and our health. Recently packaging made from BPA-free plastic has become quite trendy. BPA is only one of hundreds of chemicals, including other endocrine disruptors, which are found in all types of plastic – regardless of whether or not they are recyclable. Buying a BPA-free bottle sounds like an eco-friendly idea, but what about the hundreds of other plastic items on your kitchen counter and inside your cupboards? Disposable spoons, forks, food storage
containers, ice cube trays, baby bottles, coffee pots and blenders all contain plastic. Food items such as chips, crackers, cereals, bread, cookies, cheese, butter, condiments, and even your dish soap all come with a plastic package.
Do you buy bottled water, soda or other beverages in single-serving, plastic bottles? What do you think happens to that plastic after you enjoy the convenience of your drink? How many times a day do you use something in a plastic, non-biodegradable package and throw it away? Where is ‘away?’ There is no ‘away’ . . . the debris just gets broken down into smaller and smaller bits and ends up polluting the deepest oceans on our planet. Perhaps the most important point to keep in mind is that plastic is made from petroleum. Yes, petroleum, like the fuel we put into our vehicles. The same non-renewable fossil fuel which is causing wars between political leaders and battles over land ownership.
There are already mountains of aluminum cans, fast food wrappers, styrofoam to-go containers, plastic beverage containers, plastic straws and heaps of trash lining our highways, shorelines and polluting our planet. There is a huge amount of waste being created with every meal, every single day, and it really doesn’t seem that important to me anymore if it ever makes it into a recycle bin. That’s a nice step but not using these non-biodegradable items is an even better step. Furthermore, avoiding these is only ONE step, because there is already an overwhelming amount of waste. What is the environment—the wildlife, the ocean, the shoreline, the lakes, the aquifers—supposed to do with it all?
To make your kitchen eco-friendly minimize or avoid non-biodegradable items such as straws, styrofoam containers, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, plastic bags and plastic bottles.
Purchase food in larger packages rather than single-use packages.
Select food packaged in paper, cardboard and glass instead of plastic or styrofoam.
Use glass food storage containers instead of plastic bags or plastic containers.
Use stainless steel cookware and stainless steel beverage bottles.
Use bamboo cutting boards, bowls and serving spoons.
Make choices that create the least impact on our environment. Invest your money in organic food and kitchen items that can be reused over and over again. Continue to bring your cloth bags to the grocery store, recycle what you use and support local businesses.
Each of these steps can help keep our planet and your family healthy, one choice at a time. We are all in this together; let’s make every day Earth Day.
If you’d like more health tips, check out Samadhi’s book, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Healthy You.
Published in A Better You of The Orlando Sentinel Newspaper April 20, 2014
By Samadhi Artemisa, Acupuncture Physician
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