'Serious Green' on Serious Eats

How to Start Your Own Compost

Summer is the perfect time to start a new garden, or make your current garden even more awesome. No matter what your level of gardening expertise, you can start your own compost to enrich your soil and help your plants grow to their greatest potential. Composting is the process of combining kitchen scraps, dry material from your yard, and other organic matter (including soil) into a big pile—and then letting it sit, stirring occasionally. As well as helping your plants flourish, it's a great way to reduce your kitchen waste and use up all those weeds and other garden materials. More

How to Start Your Own Herb Garden

Would I consider myself a green thumb-obsessed environmentalist who loves the planet? Not really. All this started from the fact that I'm just cheap. Keeping a small herb garden and growing some even from seed isn't difficult. For the most part, the herbs one uses in almost daily food preparation are ones that are hearty enough for the even the most questionable green thumb. Here are some herb-growing basics for the no-muss, no-fuss crowd. More

Serious Green: Tips and Tricks for Greening Your Gifts

Note: Our gift-guide marathon continues. Still looking for that special something? Try our full complement of lists. —Ed. [Flickr: Or Hiltch] As you start brainstorming how to check off each person on your holiday list, here are some tips, tricks, and ideas on how to make those presents just a little greener. 1. Give Homemade or Teach a Skill [Flickr: ndrwfgg] You can't get much more local than your own kitchen. Try using local jam in your thumbprint cookies this year or organic flour in your cakes for an extra sustainable kick. Think about what you know and give lessons. Got some oven chops? Give an aspiring baker the gift of your time and know-how by baking your famous cardamom... More

Serious Green: The Simpsons Go Shopping for Ultra-Vegan Invisible Cheese

Take a break and watch as the Simpsons go shopping for healthy food that "looks bad on the shelf but good in [their] colons" at "Wellness Foods" (a Whole Foods look-alike). Homer worries about men carrying purses (reusable shopping bags) and Marge picks up items like "non-soy dairy-based soy sauce, steel-cut spelt husks ... free-range gluten, and ultra-vegan invisible cheese." Some very important points are wrapped up in this hilariousness. More

Serious Green: 5 Simple Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving

[Flickr: xybermatthew] It might be too late to snag a Heritage turkey this year, but there are still plenty of last minute things you can do to make sure this year's Thanksgiving is your greenest yet. 1. Decorate with What What You've Got [Flickr: StarMama] Instead of investing in expensive, hothouse flowers that are shipped from around the globe, forage in your backyard for greenery, berries, and branches. Throw in some votive candles and some bright cloth (reusable!) napkins and you've got yourself a beautiful table. More tips after the jump.... More

Serious Green: Go Heritage and Local with Your Bird This Thanksgiving

[Flickr: ExperienceLA] Thanksgiving is coming up quick and it's time to start thinking about all the fixins' and the main event—the turkey. This year, think about committing to a Heritage turkey instead of your normal supermarket pick. A Normal Bird [Flickr: Martin Pettitt] So what's wrong with most of those birds you'll find in the supermarket? Your normal bird (almost all turkeys bred for Thanksgiving are the Broad-Breasted White or Broad-Breasted Bronze variety) are so removed from a traditional turkey that they must be artificially inseminated to reproduce. These birds, all come from one basic genetic line that was developed in the 1950's. In keeping with Americans' preference for white meat, these birds were bred to have extremely large... More

Serious Green: October Is Fair Trade Month

Coffee seedlings under a canopy of old leaves. [Flickr: jakeliefer] With October here (and winter peeking around the corner) the harvest at local farmers' markets is leveling off. In many areas, summer CSAs are dropping off their final shares of the season. While the change in weather is making it harder to buy food from local and sustainable sources, it leaves us a perfect opportunity to celebrate Fair Trade Month.... More

Serious Green: A Guide to Keeping City Chickens

[Photograph: Lisa Moussalli] This is my theory. You and all your foodie friends, the New York Times' Dining section, and the Washington Post's Home and Garden section can all call something a new food trend. Slate can even call it a bogus trend. But it's when a food trend lands on the front page of the business section that it's really gone mainstream. The chickens have landed in our backyards and they're here to stay. Everyone's got a reason for you to rush out to get some of these feathered friends for your own backyard: fresher free-range eggs, being closer to the source of your food, a sense of self-reliance, and free nitrogen-rich fertilizer. These are all legitimate answers,... More

Serious Green: Save Energy with Hypercooking

[Photograph: theogeo on Flickr] Things are about to get competitive in the kitchen and it's not a Top Chef Quickfire challenge. It's time to start hypercooking. Hypercooking is defined by The Food Section as "an environmentally conscious way of cooking that seeks to maximize the impact of the energy used during the cooking process." Hypercooking is the kitchen version of hypermiling, in which drivers change they way they drive and use specific techniques to go as far as possible on a gallon of gas. In the Big Green Cookbook Jackie Newgent offers hypercooking tips and recipes, such as one for cookies that finish baking in the residual heat of the oven. Try these tips, after the jump, to save... More

Serious Green: Community Supported Kitchens

"A CSK doesn't just deliver local, sustainable product, it provides you with a ready-to-eat meal." [Flickr: Neighborhood Notes] You try your best to be green, buying local when you can, recycling, conserving water, the list goes on. But when it comes to participating in a Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) share, you stop short. Unknown quantities of a random assortment of vegetables piling up on you week after week? Eeek. If this sounds like you, or maybe you don't like too cook or find it too time-consuming or too isolating, Community Supported Kitchens to the rescue! A Community Supported Kitchen (CSK) is a new idea to connect farmers and eaters, especially those eaters who wand to eat locally, but currently... More

More Movies That Go Beyond Food Inc.

[iStockphoto: thebroker] In Serious Green, we recently told you about some food and environmental films that go beyond the popular Food Inc. Thanks to everyone for chiming in with even more suggestions. Here are a few more good ones: Food Fight (not to be confused with this Food Fight) is a look at the development of American agriculture and policy in the 20th century and the birth of the counter-revolution of the local and organic foods movement. Food Stamped follows a nutrition educator and her husband as they do their best to eat healthy food on a weekly $50 food stamp budget. What's On Your Plate? is a documentary that follows two 11-year-old New Yorkers, Sadie and Safiyah, as... More

Serious Green: Freeze It Now, Eat It Later

"Freezing is easier than traditional canning, but don't just start chucking plums into the freezer with reckless abandon." [Photograph: Cornell University Library] Summer is on its way out the door and it's taking delicious fruits and vegetables with it. Now's the time to preserve the bounty from your garden or local farmers' market, to keep you eating local during the tomato-less and berry-less days ahead. Over the past couple of years, I've fallen head-over-heels in love with canning. I've canned blackberry-ginger jam and sweet pickles, spicy tomato sauce and sour cherry preserves. I've got a shelf full of canning books, both new and old. I've taught others to can, and I even wrote a 50-page senior essay on the history... More

Serious Green: Upgrading School Lunch

[Photograph ©iStockphoto.com/apomares] School lunch in the district where I attended K-12 was, frankly, disgusting. I was lucky enough to come from a home where there was enough money and time for me to have a home-packed lunch every day. There were plenty of kids who loved the square sausage pizza and hermetically sealed PBJs, but I'm sure there were also plenty who would have gladly eaten something else had they not been on the free-lunch program. Now, it's pretty clear that no matter if my classmates liked it or not, they shouldn't have been eating the food the school was dishing up. Schools send a message to children with the foods that are served. The additives, preservatives, and sugar... More

Serious Green: 6 Rules of a Good Farmers' Market

[Flickr: NatalieMaynor] There was a time when I cultivated tomatoes over acres, not in small pots on windowsills. I now make my home in Brooklyn and have no backyard, front yard, or rooftop to speak of. But in college I spent my summers riding in the back of pickup trucks; weeding fields; and selling tomatoes and peppers, blueberries and yellow squash at farmers markets' throughout the D.C. area. Back at school, friends and I yearned for food that didn't originate in the dining hall so we founded a highly successful biweekly farmers' market. I don't claim to have the wisdom of full-time farmers, but as a former farm worker and market manager, and as an active market go-er and... More

Serious Green: Save Money and Time, Cut Down on Waste by Joining a Co-op or Buying Club

Photograph from jpockele on Flickr You've probably got your grocery shopping routine down to a science. You pick up pantry staples at your neighborhood Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, Hannaford, or Whole Foods. You try to get fruits and vegetables from your local CSA, farmers' market, or roadside stand. Finally, maybe you grab some specialty items every now and then from Trader Joe's or a gourmet store. Sounds pretty good, but there may still be some options for buying local, sustainable, and green groceries that you haven't explored yet. Co-ops: Grocery Stores That Break the Mold Photograph from takomabibelot on Flickr Cooperative grocery stores (more commonly called co-ops) have come a long way from their days of selling textured vegetable protein... More

Serious Green: Movies That Go Beyond Food Inc

©iStockphoto.com/thebroker This summer's Food, Inc. has brought food consciousness in the U.S. to a whole new level. If Food, Inc. made you hungry for more info on food production in the U.S., you should get your hands on one of the movies below. These films range in theme from school lunches to genetically modified foods. People can talk and write about food production and industrial feed lots till they're blue in the face, but seeing sometimes makes all the difference. Food, Inc. was groundbreaking because it was the first enviro-food film to be screened at major movie theaters across the country. But the small, food-focused films that follow after the jump played at independent festivals and then never seemed... More

Serious Green: 10 Cheap & Green Kitchen Tips

As a committed tree-hugger and very recent graduate, I find myself plopped firmly at the intersection of cheap and green. Keeping things environmentally friendly while keeping costs down is important to me. Below, some of my best time-tested, budget-approved ways to keep both your wallet and the earth green and happy. 1. Fill Your Oven Photograph from KirrilyRobert on Flickr Every time you turn on your oven to roast or bake something, make sure that baby is full. It takes a lot of energy to get an oven to 400°F, so you might as well fill all the rack space. Even if roasted sweet potatoes aren't part of tonight's roasted chicken dinner, I throw them in; they'll get put into... More

Serious Green: How to Get Free Fruit via Urban Fruit Harvesting

Photograph from morning_rumtea on Flickr Farmers have been purposefully leaving edges of their fields unharvested and fruit unpicked for the less fortunate since biblical times. Today, groups around the country are translating that idea and encouraging us to do the same--by picking the fruit from your neighbor's tree. Photograph from Muffet on Flickr Urban fruit-harvesting groups started in places where there are abundant fruit trees, such as California. But groups are now popping up all over the U.S. and the world. All of them have one thing in common: making use of food that would otherwise go unused (i.e., rot on the sidewalk). Some groups gather wild food that's growing in a public space, such as a traffic median;... More

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