Three tips to reduce your carbon ‘foodprint’

This vegan lemony white bean soup from Jackfruitful Kitchen is warm and bright, a great soup for a weeknight dinner lineup. Photo: Jackie Akerberg.

Writer: Karla Walsh

Heads up: Earth Day is coming right up on Saturday. There are lots of ways to celebrate, but if you want to make a difference year-round, the kitchen is a good place to start.

“About 15 million pounds of food is thrown away annually in Central Iowa alone,” said Aubrey Alvarez, the president of the nonprofit Eat Greater Des Moines. “More than 30 percent of our landfills are filled with organic waste.” That’s up from 22 percent in 2017 and just 10.3 percent in 2005.

With that in mind, here are three easy ways to help push the needle in the other direction.

Reduce: Your animal protein consumption by replacing one meaty main dish with a plant-based once a week.
If you swap in beans instead of beef at just one more meal each week for a year, the resulting environmental impact will be similar to trading a dozen incandescent bulbs for LED lights, using 38 fewer gallons of gas, or decreasing your home’s electricity usage by 5%, according to estimates from the University of Minnesota. For inspiration, check out Des Moines-based Jackie Akerberg’s new vegan cookbook. Or outsource your cooking to local eateries that offer colorful, fresh and filling vegetarian and vegan options, including A DongCeviche BarDes Fresh FoodsEl Michoacano TaqueriaFreskoGurshaGusto Pizza Co.HarbingerLucky Lotus and Ritual Cafe.

Reuse: Your cleaning supplies by stocking up on refillable, ethically made cleaning supplies.
Find chic glass containers at The Collective, 3523 Sixth Ave., to refill with dish soap and hand soap to cut down on how much plastic you throw away. While you’re there, you may want to snag some washable UNpaper Towels, reusable stainless steel lunch boxes or a surprisingly cute Bamboozle Compost Bin.

Recycle: Your leftover ingredients.
We get it: Not everyone loves leftovers. But last night’s extras can become tonight’s dinner if you’re savvy about it. Turn to creative cookbooks like Tamar Adler’s The Everlasting Meal Cookbook or Julia Turshen’s Now and Again for tips to make the most of leftovers and reduce your environmental “foodprint.” We recently spotted both books at Reading in Public in Valley Junction.

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