Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Cooking up a storm...

A strange cooking urge comes over me when I have a young baby in the house. I don't know whether it is some kind of hunter-gatherer-protect-the-young-instinct, or just the fact when I cook, I want to cook, not just heat stuff up. It's a paradoxical thing - I'm meant to have no time at all (baby, toddler, 1.6 jobs), but I'm spending about an hour almost every evening cooking (one evening a week is usually a junk food binge). Sometimes, like tonight, it gets me in trouble if people are hungry...

So what's this got to do with sustainability? Food makes up a huge chunk of our carbon footprint - and then you add in all the other environmental issues - nitrogen run-off into rivers and lakes, pesticide use, land use, biodiversity loss, soil erosion.

If you cook from fresh, you can choose where each ingredient comes from and, to an extent, how it was produced - I try to get as much as possible from our allotment (not a lot!) and from Northumberland and rural Durham - our city's agricultural hinterland - and organic where possible. You can also avoid all the gunk that processed foods use to bulk out food and try to make it moreish. There's more I'd like to do - get more from the allotment and do a bit more foraging - although my attempt at using dandelion leaves instead of rocket this summer didn't quite work out. I must dig out my copy of food for free.

We can go a little deeper as well. Like many people I believe we need to reconnect to the natural systems we rely on - and our food choice is probably the closest conscious interaction we have with that world. So cooking properly with good ingredients is my little way of connecting, living life properly and giving two fingers to the myth that we're all too busy.



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