Concerned with the planet’s plastic pollution problem, I went plastic-free in 2011. (Check out my daughter’s blog, The Plastic-Free Chef, which she started back then at age 16.) Zero waste was the next logical step (more like a half-step). I’m not a huge consumer (I don’t buy thneeds), so before my transition, most of our trash came from the kitchen. To cut down on plastic waste there, I began shopping more at the farmer’s market, filling up on staples in the bulk sections of grocery stores and making more food from scratch (I’ve always done this, but now I’m pretty hardcore). I cut out all packaged food, which I quickly realized meant I cut out all processed food. (Like Michael Pollan says “If it’s a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.”) And I’m healthier for it. By the way, I don’t mention this in every post, but I use only organic ingredients unless I can’t find them (which rarely happens).
For a few reasons, I haven’t quite hit zero waste in the kitchen but I’m very close. While zero waste may be possible to reach in my home, my activities will still produce waste indirectly elsewhere. When I shop at the grocery store, I bring glass jars, stainless steel containers and homemade cloth bulk bags to fill. This means I bring home zero waste BUT the store itself generated waste to fill its bulk bins with the food I buy there—the nuts, seeds, rice, flour and so on arrive packaged somehow after all. So, until I do buy that farm, I must rely on others to supply my food and that produces waste, albeit much, much less. Sometimes I buy food packaged in glass jars (but not often), which often have plastic seals and always have lids that can’t be recycled. (However, I do reuse almost all jars. If you go plastic- and waste-free, you need lots of them for storage.) I do love butter but without a cow, I can’t get it without at least some paper packaging. Even I don’t think regularly making butter from heavy cream uses my time wisely. But I’ll try it once! And if I use raw cream, I can make cultured butter filled with probiotic goodness and enjoy its byproduct, real buttermilk. Maybe making butter isn’t such a bad idea after all…
I live in an intentional community in the San Francisco Bay Area, work as the senior editor at a small publisher and have two kids, so I’m pretty busy. But I try to post once a week, usually midweek. Occasionally I have time for an additional post on a weekend. I answer to Anne Marie, AM or ZWC 🙂
For comments, questions or just to say hello, please fill out the form below to contact me. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
For speaking engagements and interview inquiries, please email my bookings manager, Cecil Ang.
“Anne Marie represents the type of food writing I love. Whilst many food bloggers focus on aspirational cooking, often accompanied by beautiful but stylised photographs, the Zero-Waste Chef’s blog is inspirational.” — Mrs M of Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet
“I was at the Sunnyvale library a little over a week-ago and attended your fermenting class there. You gave me a SCOBY and I have since made 1.5 batches of Kombucha. I flavored the first batch with some mashed up strawberries during the second ferment and was so glad you had said to put a towel over the top of it before opening…. bubbles galore! I just started the second ferment on my second batch, which has ginger, with a bit of sugar added in… I’m looking forward to making some ginger beer sometime soon.
Now to find some more “pop-top” bottles, I’ve been scouring the local thrift stores with very little luck but know more will show up if I have patience.
Thanks for teaching me how easy, fun, and tasty it can be to make things yourself!!” — Lance P.
“I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your class and it was a pleasure to meet you. I was inspired to delve even further into my healthy eating and to cut out even more plastics in my life. (I study BPA and other contaminants of the food system in my research—I definitely think you are doing the right thing with your lifestyle.) I am excitedly waiting for the kombucha to come to life! I hope to experiment with making yogurt and kefir if the kombucha is a success.” — Jennifer H., Palo Alto
“I have learned so much with taking Anne Marie’s classes. Going back to fermentation makes such a difference in my life and IN MY BODY. I always have sauerkraut in my fridge now and I love it. The kombucha class was a kick, especially with “scobie” mom. You need one of these Scobies to make the tea. So much cheaper than what you buy in the store and so fun to make. I feel like I am going back in time and I am much healthier for it. Anne Marie is a great teacher. She has spent so much time studying and working out the perfect recipes. Now I can’t wait until we have a sourdough bread-making class. I tasted some of Anne Marie’s. Incredible!! WHAT HAVE I BEEN EATING ALL THESE YEARS?” — Uma Devi Morningstar, Mountain View
“My Kombucha grew a fabulous new mother! How exciting! I think I might be too excited! Ha! I just had some today, from the batch we made and it was fabulous! I think what you’re doing and the contributions you have to give are really awesome! I will look forward to more classes! Thank you!” — Melissa V., Mountain View
“I learned SO MUCH from Anne Marie!
Her classes are very informative and added a whole new dimension to my healthy cooking. Moreover, I learned the importance of probiotics in digestion, weight loss, and overall health. It significantly changed my diet to include easy to prepare fermented foods. Inspired, I can now make DELICIOUS sourdough crackers, pancakes, sauerkraut, homemade dill pickles and way more.
I can make a big batch very crisp and healthy crackers in under 15 minutes, and they stay crisp for days, (except they never can last that long, they’re so delicious.) They’re thin and I top them with flax, chia, sesame and pumpkin seeds and use nutritional yeast to roll them out. “Yummmmmmmm!” Crushed slightly, they are great on salads, in/or with soups, and they’re simply irresistible munchies.
Besides, her classes are SO MUCH FUN, learning all this new stuff our grandmothers took all for granted. Go!” Carol H., Mountain View
“What a pleasure it was learning from Anne Marie Bonneau. She is knowledgeable, fun, relaxed and…very kind. There are no dumb questions!” — Sita R., Mountain View
“I am very impressed with Anne Marie’s passion for fermentation. Her knowledge is very broad and she teaches in a very personal friendly manner. Her enthusiasm and in-depth personal experiments in this field encourage the participant with confidence, even those who are not comfortable with kitchen utensils. She has shown us how to make delicious sauerkraut and beet kvaas, yoghurt, kombucha and we are eagerly awaiting her next session on sourdough starters. Anne Marie is a true teacher who shares her health improvement modalities very generously.” — Rama S., Palo Alto
“I was very excited to learn from Anne Marie. I love her passion, and it really comes through while she’s teaching. When I went to the class, she explained everything very well and was very clear. Because of Anne Marie’s positive attitude, I felt welcome to ask questions which made it easier to learn. She’s clearly very well studied and understands what she is teaching. If she doesn’t know the answer to a question, she’s quick to investigate and open to dive deeper into the content. I really enjoyed learning to make sauerkraut with Anne Marie-I went home and started right away! The class was fun and I learned everything I needed to know to feel confident doing it on my own. I’m looking forward to more!” — Lana B., Mountain View
“I attended several classes Anne Marie gave on fermentation. She not only showed us how to make our own sauerkraut but also gave us free samples to take home. We all participated in the class, be it chopping, cleaning, asking questions or just having a good time.
Anne Marie is very knowlegable about homecooking and very passionate about protecting the environment by abandoning plastic packaging and food waste and growing our food naturally.” — Daniela R., Mountain View
“Kombucha brewing….Fun class for all ages. Very informative, relaxed, and tasty! Highly recommend. We’re looking forward to more classes with Anne Marie.” — Meg W., San Carlos
555 Bryant Street, #180
Palo Alto, CA 94301 USA
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This is such a wonderful idea, and I look forward to reading about your zero-waste adventures! What you’ve posted so far is delightful. 🙂
Thank you so much! I really appreciate it 🙂
I love what you’re doing…I’m not nearly zero waste (stares in horror at the pizza packaging lurking in the corner of the kitchen), but I’m trying! Thanks for the ideas and encouragement on how to dump the packaging and make more for ourselves…
You’re welcome. Thank you for the comment. My biggest problem with zero waste right now is my loved ones’ sabotage. I keep finding contraband in my kitchen! But today I talked my 19-year old out of buying a tub of sour cream (she’s home from university in Canada right now). It was like talking down an alcoholic from having a drink. And she’s the one who showed me how to make sour cream a while ago!
I too find contraband from my husband and child, even after 11+ years of zero waste living (inspired to go uber full force by the queen of Zero Waste, Bea Johnson). I suppose they do eat my tofu, tempeh and every other modern day hippi dish out there, so I should give them a little cred. Lately I’ve been ordering from the farmers themselves for grains and such, typically they pack it up in 25 lb and up increments, all in a durable paper bag. If you have a cool place to store it, the whole grains and nuts last about a year without going rancid. I gave up on most dairy when my girlfriend’s cow was no longer being milked – I really miss the butter (so easy to make with a food processor).
[…] huge thanks go to Lindsay from Treading My Own Path (an amazing sustainable-living advocate), the Zero Waste Chef (plastic free and zero waste advocate) and Joanna from Every Week is Green (eco-friendly living […]
Such a nice and unique idea….Just loved the concept…Hats off
Thank you so much 🙂
Very much enjoying your blog. Going zero plastic would be immense but I heard an appalling statistic that 100% of fulmars in the English Channel have plastic in their stomach which starves and poisons them. So I will add my small contribution to this growing movement. Thank you for your inspiration.
Thank you! That makes me so happy that you like the blog 🙂 I took small steps to go plastic free and it’s much easier now. I’m lucky I live near a few stores with good bulk bins, I have a wonderful farmer’s market and I can buy milk in glass bottles. Shopping this way cuts down on the packaging immensely.
One hundred percent of fulmars have plastic in their stomachs?! This is outrageous. And I would guess it’s mostly plastic from single-use items that no one actually needs. It breaks my heart when I hear about sea life and birds starving because of plastic. I don’t want to be a part of it.
Alle Hochachtung- aber nicht durchzuhalten-leider
This is really wonderful!
Thank you so much!
Hi Ann Marie-
Here’s some good news in case you haven’t seen it:http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/12/29/460589462/the-year-in-food-artificial-out-innovation-in-and-2-more-trends
My resolution is to try out some of your fermentation recipes and get my gut in better order! I love reading your posts on Monday morning, it makes me smile every time!
Hi Karen. I did see that. Nice to hear some good news! I hope you enjoy your fermentation adventure. It’s so much fun, not to mention delicious. I hope it helps your gut. It certainly has helped me. Happy 2016 to you too and thanks so much for reading my posts 🙂
~ Anne Marie
Fantastic blog! You’re awesome!
Thank you so much. I really appreciate that 🙂
Hi Anne Marie
I really want to try making the sourdough starter but I live in the tropics; wouldn’t the humidity n hot room temperature (29- 30 °C) affect the type of microbes? I’m afraid that it might breed the wrong kinds.
Hello how are you I am called Giovanni
** Sorry **Anne-marie! 🙂
On the Facebook Million Women page it says you are in N Carolina. Is that a mistake?
Good catch! I’m in Northern California. I hadn’t noticed they say N Carolina. Oh well. The Northern and C part are right 😀
~ Anne Marie
I have been not trying to go zero waste (its hard and over whelming) so instead I am making changes in my life that have a positive impact on our earth as well as my life. All of these changes are zero waste. 🙂 I happened to stubble upon your website when i was out looking for more ways to use up food scraps. I just binged your blogs I cant wait to implement some of your recipes and changes into my life. And look forward to your future blogs. Thank you
Cheers to a fellow use everything by nothing kind of thinker.
Caroline up in the north.
I am a long time sourdough baker, and I recently moved to the rainforest in Peru. I have found the bread to be just as delicious, if not more, than in the NYC area where i learned to bake.
I have found however that the mother rises much more quickly, thus is really important to feed it daily, if not twice a day.
Hope you went ahead with your baking!