We are all trying to eat more sustainable, organic food. Chef Gerard has simple steps to “green-up” your grocery carts and eat more sustainably.
Culinary expert Chef Gerard Viverito is the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish; a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas.
Eat less meat and more beans. Peas, lentils and other legumes are called nitrogen “fixers”. They convert inert gas from the atmosphere into the type of ammonia needed for plant food, reducing the need to use as much synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Livestock is a major driver of deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Livestock requires about 3.9 billion hectares of land for grazing and to produce animal feed. That’s an area that’s five times larger than Australia.
Buy wild-caught U.S. seafood. American fisheries have some of the most stringent ecological rules in the world. Be open to sampling different fish species. If we ate what the oceans were sustainably supplying instead of insisting on only a few preferred fish species, we would further cut down on over-fishing our waters.
Improve your oil: It doesn’t make sense to buy healthy, sustainable foods and then cook them with oils made from genetically modified plants. Your family will love the buttery texture of palm oil which is natural and sustainably produced. Because it is heat stable, palm oil can be used for grilling, baking and frying without burning and making food taste bad.
Upgrade your favorite spices : The use of chemical fertilizers and plant pesticides is a growing concern in the spice industry. But organic spices and herbs can be pricey, so invest in organic only for those that you use all the time. Here’s another money-saving tip: Whole ginger root is a fraction of the price of powdered. Buy a root and cut into 1-inch cubes then toss them into the freezer. Grate a cube whenever a recipe calls for this fragrant spice.
Oven fry leafy vegetables: Kale and spinach grow quickly in most climates. This means they have a lower impact on our environment and may require less fertilizer than slower growing veggies. Up the kid-friendliness of these greens by making tasty oven-fried veggie chips. Drizzle Malaysian sustainable palm oil over the greens, sprinkle with salt and then bake in a 350 degree oven until slightly brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Eat on their own, sprinkle on pizza or add to cheesy omelets.
Look for “grass-fed”, “organic” or “pasture-raised” beef: Raising livestock takes a big toll on our environment. It uses more than 70 percent of our agricultural land and is the largest driver of deforestation in the world. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up meat if you want to eat sustainably. Just choose quality over quantity. When cooking, combine meat with healthy plant-based foods. Throw some black beans into ground beef when making tacos or combine chicken with quinoa when making a casserole.
Chef Gerard Viverito, is a culinary instructor as the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. [www.passionfish.org] He is also operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and products center on local, sustainable and organic foods. Chef Viverito’s pantry is loaded with items commonly overlooked in the supermarkets, yet he has a thorough understanding of them and a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully.
In addition, Chef Viverito has dedicated a large part of his career to what he terms “functional cooking”. This is where he adds nutritional ingredients to dishes to gain healthful results. He is well known for his ability to lower the glycemic index value of food, add omega fatty acids, and whole proteins to dishes without compromising the texture or taste. He appears regularly on radio and television programs demonstrating this as well as consulting clients on their dietary needs. www.ChefGerard.com