Food for the ecologically minded

(Christy Hemphill) #1

This was an interesting article about how food choices have a lot more ecological impact than people think and if we shifted and diversified our diets more, it would have a big global impact.

How many of these fifty foods have you tried?

Since we moved to Mexico, we eat nopales, amaranth, quinoa, lots of beans and lentils, jicama, and camote morado (purple yams). I made pumpkin flower soup the other day and am still enjoying the leftovers. It is one of my favorite discoveries. I have recently tried moringa powder since I saw it in the store here. I use flax seeds and hemp seeds in smoothies and bread. Most of the others aren’t available locally.

I like to cook, so I enjoy learning about these kind of things. The news about the future of the planet always seems so dire, but if you can make a small contribution by changing eating habits, eating less meat and mixing up the main staples with less environmentally taxing options, I’m in.

If you have any good recipes using any of these fifty foods, please share.

(Randy) #2

Do you use the Mennonite cookbooks, “More with Less” or (their international one), “Extending the Table”? These seem to use the reusable and basic ingredients that are locally sourced. We used them on the field and in the US (you might want to substitute oil for the lard and drippings they use often!). We also have a large Amish population here in Fremont–their cooking seems to be similar.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #3

There is some good stuff in the “More with Less” … some of it “good” in the tasty kind of way rather than good for the planet [not that one has to choose between those two as this article points out!]; but there is quite a variety across all that spectrum to try out in there.

If you ever want to try the oatmeal bread in there (still uses mostly wheat flour - so…not really weaning us away from wheat all that much yet); it is a wonderfully soft bread to pull fresh out of the oven and enjoy. Still, I bet some other types of flours on that list of fifty could probably make some really good breads too.

My wife occasionally gets some edumame to have around, and we like to snack on that. I guess soy is still a problem though, as this article says - since we feed so much of it to animals.

Thanks for sharing these articles, @Christy. There was a lot in there I don’t recognize at all yet.

(Randy) #4

I haven’t had the oatmeal bread in a long time! That sounds good. I would like to try the different types of foods in the list—If we start producing them locally, they probably will be more feasible. I love trying different foods (in contrast to my 11 and 8 year old boys; that will change). Yes, trying these may help in all sorts of ways. I have wondered about the pumpkin flower soup before. I’m thinking about planting those this year. It’d be fun to try!

Teff, khorasan wheat, quinoa…those sound great. I tried okra again last year in my garden–I can’t make it down the throat unless it’s fried in cornmeal or pickled, but that’s pretty good. My brother in Africa uses moringa in his garden and, I think, in his meals.

“Most of us might believe it’s
our energy or transport choices
that cause the most serious
environmental damage. In fact,
it’s our food system that creates
the biggest impact.”

(Christy Hemphill) #5

I have heard of More with Less. (And my Mennonite friend here is a great cook.) Honestly, I mostly use food blogs. I just put in the ingredients I find locally that I’d like to learn how to use and I can almost always find recipes with detailed instructions. I have no complaints about the food situation here, we eat way better than when we lived in Chicago. (Oaxaca, where I am right now, is a popular culinary tour destination. Rick Bayless, the celebrity chef loves it here. Total tangent, he studied linguistics under Ken Pike with one of my co-workers, but decided not to go into Bible translation. But he did go and stay out in my colleague’s Mixtec village for his honeymoon/culinary research project.) Fresh produce is available year round at (what seem to us) low prices. I just have to cook a lot more from scratch than I ever did in the States since you cannot buy lots of the convenience foods that many US recipes depend on like a can of diced tomatoes or a package of frozen peas and carrots. If I want peas, I have to shell them. :slight_smile: It makes broccoli more appealing.

@Randy. Pumpkin flowers/squash blossoms are also yummy stir-fried and then put in quesadillas. That is a popular street food here. You just take off the sepal (base of the flower) and remove the stamens and use them like a leaf vegetable.

I feel like one thing all the gluten-free hype has done is gotten people to explore other foods a little. Who ever heard of quinoa or pumpkin seed flour until people started trying to cut out wheat.

(Phil) #6

Okra is a mainstay in my garden, as are cowpeas. We usually eat the peas with tender immature pods snapped like green beans mixed with more mature shelled peas. I do not eat dried cowpeas.

(Randy) #7

Okra is a mainstay in Hausa culture, where I grew up–which makes me more frustrated that I don’t really like it a lot. The sauce (“miya”, word for “okra” ) is a gumbo with dried tomatoes, okra, and all kinds of good things that you mix with “tuwo”–a cake of millet (hatse) or sorghum (dawa) ground, boiled and solidified like cold cream of wheat. If you have a good recipe, let me know!

(Laura) #8

Interesting… I used to wonder whether our diets might be too diverse, at least in the sense of including foods that are native to so many different parts of the world (in an average week I’ll eat things that originate from several continents). At least, the global nature of our food choices is a pretty new thing.

I assume “cowpeas” are also called “black-eyed peas”? We planted one as a school experiment to look at the sprouting process, but when I transplanted it into my flower bed for fun, it really took off and we ended up with enough to put in a soup. Probably I should try a couple rows of them this year.


We definitely should eat more insects.

(Laura) #10

I was thinking of that too… a friend of a friend was involved in an initiative to encourage mealworm flour production in countries where access to protein is difficult. Apparently it’s straightforward enough that you can raise your own in a small box with several drawers. I’m not saying I want to try it right now, but there’s a part of me that really wants to look into that someday as a hopefully low-cost alternative to meat.

(Oliver van der Togt) #11

Food for thought: don’t have kids until we have stopped trashing the environment.


Dang it. Insect eating has a really terrible name: Entomophagy. That movement clearly needs more PR work before it can take off!

Even ‘Soylent Green’ sounds better. AND IT’S PEOPLE!!!

(Christy Hemphill) closed #13

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.