Conscious Cooking- is this a thing?
The idea of cooking for planetary welfare seems such a niche and pretentious privileged sort of consumerism. Yet, isn’t this what we should be doing? Isn’t this how humans lived on this planet for millennia? So, let’s break this down. What does it mean to be a ‘conscious consumer?’ What do we do, or give up to eat like this, and most importantly what’s the cost?
First, let’s start with why this is even a topic these days. For the most part of our lives, food is looked at either through the diet/fitness lens or through the culinary/ Food TV and now Tik-Tok medium. Most consumers never really knew where their food came from, how it was produced, who it was made by, or what goes into it- if it’s a processed food. We go to the supermarket and we put it in our baskets. This is how it’s been since the 40/50’s and has continued on until the 2000’s. We were awakened first in the 70’s but a resurgence of chefs brought our attention to the food revolution of Farm to Table. Let’s pause- all this is NOT new. People eat like this all over the world, it’s life for most people, but here in the United States everything has a name, term or acronym so to make things easier I’m using these terms.
What has changed? Even with the farm to table movement, big companies wanted to take a piece of this and found a way to market their products to make food more palatable. Now, we have meal kit companies, and delivery services that provide ready made-healthy-keto/paleo, etc foods right to your door. What’s wrong with all this? The bottom line is that it just produces a LOT of trash. All those containers end up in the landfill and take decades or never to decompose. “According to an estimate, every year we use approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil just for producing plastic bottled water. Plastic waste is one of many types of wastes that take too long to decompose. Normally, plastic items take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. But plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10-20 years to decompose, while plastic bottles take 450 years.” (storage.neic.org)
All this matters. The cost is our health. The cost is that the ice caps are melting, and the seas are warming up. Plastic and garbage islands are floating in the ocean. The oceans are becoming so polluted with toxic waste from chemicals and agricultural sludge that fish are dying and it’s becoming less safe for us to be in it. We are experiencing more extreme weather events from drought to flooding. More and more long-term health issues are being correlated to toxic chemicals in our food and water. So, yes I could have done some math on healthy food to buy at your supermarket or how to save on shopping and supporting local, but you see, that’s all short term, and that view doesn’t look at the bigger one- Why. We need to always have the “why” in our head so we can be rooted in our decision making.
Yes, this is hard. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, it is a burden we didn’t ask for. But sadly, here we are. We have a part to play in all this and the main and key role is to educate ourselves. Know more about what is happening, how so many scientists have given us the answers and how to slow it down, and what you can do to help this. The biggest is our government and how we regulate these businesses. So, in educating yourself, you can then decide on how to vote. But the smaller things fall into how you shop, how you eat, what food you buy, who you support in getting that food to you. These small steps can lead us to buying local, supporting healthy agricultural industries, eating less processed foods, and cooking at home. If we can eat most of our meals by buying less packaged products, we can learn to cook consciously. The idea of “who has time for that” needs to end. You just need to make time for it. We have time to rest, relax, exercise, read, binge watch, and shop. Then we have time to cook and eat right. It really doesn’t take up that much more time- if you plan ahead. Grand and great-grandmothers around the world spent their days laboring over meals. Those days are gone. Most of us single or double households work. Most of us don’t have additional family nearby to support or help out. Life is different. But we can hone in those great-grandmother wisdoms just one day a week and plan ahead. Luckily, most of us have good refrigeration and in-home ovens to help with this. So, use these tools to your advantage and learn to cook consciously. You will be surprised not only will your food taste better, but you will start feeling better also.
How Long Does It Take Garbage to Decompose?
By weight, food waste is the largest waste item in American landfills. The time taken for food waste decomposing depends on the type of food. Normally, an orange peel takes 6 months but an apple core or a banana peel takes around one month to decompose.
The Time Taken by Other Waste Items to Decompose
Different sources have different information on actual time various waste items take in landfills to decompose. But the numbers don’t vary much.
• Cigarette Butts - 10-12 years;
• Monofilament Fishing Line - 600 years;
• Rubber-Boot Sole - 50-80 years;
• Foamed Plastic Cups - 50 years;
• Leather shoes - 25-40 years;
• Milk Cartons - 5 years;
• Plywood - 1-3 years;
• Painted board - 13 years;
• Cotton Glove - 3 months;
• Cardboard - 2 months;
• Styrofoam- It does not biodegrade;
• Nylon Fabric- 30-40 years;
• Tin can- 50 years;
• Ropes - 3-14 months;
• Waxed milk carton- 3 months;
• Aluminum cans- 200-250 years;
• Train tickets - two weeks,
• Canvas products - 1 year;
• Batteries – 100 years;
• Lumber- 10-15 years,
• Sanitary Pads - 500-800 years;
• Wool Clothing- 1-5 years;
• Tinfoil- It does not biodegrade.