Great plastic mnemonic

It can be difficult to remember which plastics are bad and which are “less bad” in terms of food storage, etc., because of the hormone mimicking and off-gassing properties of plastic. My personal belief is that the less plastic the better, especially when you are talking about plastic coming into contact with food, and I try to use glass and ceramic whenever possible. However, if you are using plastic for food storage, or buying pre-made foods stored in plastic, a great mnemonic device to remember which plastics are okay and which are dangerous is:

12:45 stay alive
367 go straight to heaven

Plastics 1, 2, 4 and 5 are more safe whereas plastics 3, 6 and 7 should be avoided. The number is usually stamped onto the bottom of most plastic containers, often within the 3-arrow triangle that symbolizes recycling (like at right.) Also, plastics 1 and 2 are the most easily recycled in America, although some cities (Los Angeles and Santa Monica are two I know of) are beginning to take all plastics for recycling.

Courtesy of Coop America

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A Yummy Vegetarian Recipe and Why eating less meat is good for the planet

I was asked by a reader to post a vegetarian recipe that the whole family would love. This recipe is one I developed based on a packaged food that Whole Foods offers in their stores. I think I’ve done a good job of getting the flavors right, however, I’m more of a “cook by feel” cook, so you might have to play with the measurements (or lack there of.)

Curried Pearl Couscous with Eggplant and Cranberries
1 tbl olive oil
1 small eggplant cubed

1 large portobello mushroom cubed
3 cups water
1 cup pearl (aka Israeli) couscous (available on-line easily)
1/4 cup wild rice
2 cups dried cranberries
1 bunch mint minced
curry powder (to color and slightly flavor), salt, pepper and honey to flavor

Try and buy all organic and farmer’s market products. Put olive oil in a large pot (about 8 qts) to heat up. Once hot, saute eggplant and portobello for a few minutes with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Add water, couscous, rice and enough curry powder to color water a mustardy yellow (maybe about 1 tsp?) cover to boil for about 24-minutes until all liquid is gone. Couscous will plump up considerably. Take off heat and remove lid and add honey to sweeten slightly (I do this completely by taste, but perhaps 1/4 cup of honey), mix well. Allow to cool completely. Once cool add cranberries and mint and any additional salt, pepper or honey. Refrigerate for a few hours. Variations: I’ve used 2 medium green zucchini in place of mushroom and golden raisins in place of cranberries successfully.

Why eating less meat is good for the planet

Personally I have no ethical problems with eating meat that is raised and killed in a humane manner (free range, no antibiotics, natural diet fed, un-cloned, etc.) However, we as Americans do tend to eat much more meat than is good for us, health-wise, or the planet, environment-wise.

Although at one point both my husband and I were vegans, we felt that eating no meat didn’t work for us. However, both for our own health and for the planet (and really, doesn’t it usually seem that doing right by one does right by the other?) we do limit our meat-eating to one meal a day and many days we end up not eating meat at all.

Why is eating meat bad for the planet? A few statistics:

– The livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities (and a larger % of nitrous oxide and methane which are even worse for global-warming than CO2)
– Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface
– Clearing forests to creature pasture is a major driver of deforestation such as in the Amazon where some 70 percent of former forests have become grazing pastures
– To create 1 pound of beef requires 4.8 pounds of grain and 50,000 liters of water

More on this:
So You’re an Environmentalist; Why Are You Still Eating Meat? by Jim Motavalli of E Magazine
Livestock a major threat to environment, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, November 2006.
Save the World, Don’t Eat Meat on Brad’s Brain Blog

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