Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in modernity. — Bill Buford, Heat
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 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