Published April 22, 2021
By Angela Yang
Mammals Coordinator, Global Center for Species Survival
Earth Day 2021 is an opportunity for us to be more aware of the impact our choices have on the environment and to begin to make changes to our behavior that benefit wildlife and wild places. Each one of us can do our part by ensuring that our ecological footprint — the amount of the Earth’s resources we use — is as sustainable as possible. One fun way we can make a difference every day is adopting a climate-friendly approach to our food.
Climate change is directly related to what we eat. Food production accounts for almost a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but some types of food production have much less impact than others. Eating more fruits, vegetables and plant-based products can lessen your ecological footprint. Indiana grows several types of fresh produce like tomatoes, corn and peppers. Have you ever tried one of the Zoo’s Impossible burgers? These plant-based products are delicious and have a relatively low environmental impact.
We waste almost one-third of our food, or roughly $160 billion dollars’ worth, per year. By using all the food we buy or make, we can save money, emit less carbon into the atmosphere, and lessen the burden on waste management.
While our relationship with food will always have some ecological impact here are some climate-friendly suggestions that can help minimize our impact:
- Eat more vegetables and fruits, especially those grown locally. Start by picking one day a week where you choose foods that have the lowest environmental impact.
- When buying seafood, check science-based resources like Seafood Watch to make more sustainable choices.
- Buy locally. Farmers market are a great place to buy locally sources food. Look for The Market at White River State Park to begin this May.
- Eat seasonally and sensibly. Cold-tolerant crops like cabbage are great alternatives in the winter to “summer” vegetables that are shipped from other countries. Try climate-friendly recipes using locally grown, seasonal produce.
- Take a canvas bag to the farmers market or grocery store to use instead of plastic bags.
- For more ideas on how to minimize food waste, check out 12 Tips to Reduce Waste in the Home Kitchen
Zero Waste Vegetable Broth
(courtesy of Simple Ecology)
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, Yields ~6 cups
- 8 cups / 2 L / 1¼ lb Mixed Vegetable Scraps (see notes)
- 8 cups / 2 L Water (see notes)
Recommended Vegetable Scraps:
- GATHER: Prior to starting this recipe, you’ll need to save up the vegetable scraps from cooking. Save any of the recommended vegetable scraps listed above, and place them in a container in the freezer until you have enough to make a batch of broth. Avoid saving any vegetables with high water contents or subtle flavors, such as lettuce, eggplant, squash, potatoes, and cucumbers, or typically sweeter herbs like mint or lavender.
- BOIL: Take all your saved vegetable scraps (frozen or thawed) and place them into a medium sized pot on the stove. Add in 8 cups of water, and turn the stove onto a medium high heat. Once the water begins to boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low, and allow the vegetables to gently simmer for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the lid and test out your broth. It will be slightly bland, but have a strong aroma. Add in any additional herbs or vegetables needed to balance out the flavors, or even a bit of salt if desired. Raise the temperature slightly, allowing the vegetables to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- COOL: After the broth has reduced slightly, take it off the heat and allow it to cool until it reaches room temperature. Once cooled, strain the broth and vegetables through a Reusable Fine Mesh Straining Bag into a bowl underneath. Be sure to squeeze out the straining bag and vegetables to get more broth and flavor out. Once the broth is drained, the cooked vegetables can be placed into the compost, and the broth transferred to an airtight container. Store the broth in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Mix the Vegetables — When saving vegetables for the broth, it’s good to save a variety of veggie scraps rather than just one type of vegetable. Each different vegetable will bring another element of flavor to the finished product, so try to keep the scrap pile diverse and delicious.
Smaller Broth Batches — This recipe is completely flexible and customizable, and can be changed to make any amount of broth. If you do not have enough storage room for large amounts of vegetable scraps or broth, make a smaller batch of broth. Alternatively, you can make larger batches as well, just increase the amount of vegetable scraps and water.
Adding Old Produce — Making vegetable broth is a great way to use up the old vegetables that you forgot in the back of the fridge. As long as the produce has not begun decaying or growing mold, then it’s still good to use for broth!
(A good way to use Zero Waste Vegetable Broth!)
Cook time: about 1 hour, 6 servings
- 6 cups Zero Waste Vegetable Broth or more, if needed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided use
- 2 pounds mushrooms thinly sliced (mushroom season is starting in Indiana. Get them now at your local farmers markets)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced (about ½ cup)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated OR vegan parmesan
- In a medium saucepan, heat the Zero Waste Vegetable Broth to a simmer.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until nicely browned. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.
- In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the chopped onion for a minute or two and then add in the rice. Toast the rice in the olive oil for about 3 to 4 minutes until golden.
- Ladle in 1 cup of the simmering broth in with the rice, stirring constantly. Once the rice absorbs all of the liquid, reduce the heat to medium and continue adding in broth 1/2 cup at a time until all 6 cups of chicken broth have been added in and absorbed. Stirring consistently will help the rice cook evenly. It should take about 30 minutes to add the entire 6 cups of chicken broth.
- Once all the liquid has been used, stir in the mushrooms, the vegan butter, and the vegan parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.