DINE WITH THE PLANET
1. Garden Peas
Green Peas as they basically make their own nitrogen, require much less synthetic fertilizer. If harvested in a sustainable fashion, pea plants will even help to enrich the soil with all that extra nitrogen, making them a true environmental miracle in the vegetable world.
According to the Environmental Working Group, lentils are the top “climate-friendly” protein. Combining the carbon emissions involved in producing lentils and the post-production emissions (from processing, transport, and retail) only totals 0.9 kg of CO2.
A locally grown tomato has a low carbon footprint (ranking second on the Environmental Working Group’s list) and a taste which will fascinate you. Tomatoes not only have a low-carbon footprint but they grow deep root systems that absorb moisture from deeper soil, limiting the need for water in hot summer months.
Beans are a great vegetarian protein source. Choosing beans as the staple protein in meals over meat will greatly reduce your environmental impact. Dry beans only contribute about 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere for every kilogram consumed and also have a very long shelf life, which means less food waste and better organic living.
Broccoli produces compounds related to a class of industrial pesticides, but their pest defenses are 100% natural. Broccoli production releases less carbon than driving one mile in your car and this nutrient rich vegetable can be grown without synthetic pesticides. Moreover, those same compounds in broccoli that fight off bugs are also thought to keep certain human cancers at bay.
One other low-carbon protein source are nuts. Every four ounces of nuts consumed equals the carbon emissions of driving a little over half a mile. Considering the average serving size is one ounce, that’s an efficient snack.
Amaranth is an ancient grain that is packed with protein and nutrients. Amaranth is an incredibly resilient plant which requires little water and can grow in any soil conditions. This grain is thought to be an asset in combatting food scarcity.
Potatoes require only a moderate amount of water and fertilizer. Potatoes are water efficient crops, only consuming 50 gallons per pound (rice consumes 403 gallons) and can be stored for long periods of time without going bad. A baked potato dinner will be a much lower burden on the environment than most alternatives.