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 🙂