'environment' on Serious Eats

Study Finds Charbroiling One Burger Pollutes As Much as a Diesel Truck Driving 143 Miles

A commercial charbroiler cooking one 1/3-pound burger patty emits as much particulate matter as a 18-wheeler diesel-engine truck driving 143 miles, according to Bill Welch, principle development engineer in a study on commercial cooking emissions by the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) at the University of California, Riverside. More

Serious Reads: How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee

Climate change is an undeniably hot topic (pun intended) in both the media and the academic world. Amidst controversial claims and pessimistic forecasts, we're sometimes left wondering how we can event attempt to minimize our own impact on a perhaps permanently altered climate. Author Mike Berners-Lee attempts to give us some guidance in his new book, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything, by detailing the direct and external climate impact that even seemingly innocuous human activities can have on the environment. Ever wonder how much using a cell phone or staying in a hotel for a night added to your environmental impact? This book holds the answers. More

Video: The Secret Life of Beef

The latest video from environmental non-profit INFORM, Inc, "The Secret Life of Beef," gives an overview of the cattle industry's negative impact on the environment, along with a look at how farmers, restaurants, and schools are trying to make improvements with sustainably-raised beef and lowered meat consumption. The video includes interviews with Cliff Miller, farmer at Mount Vernon Farm, Hans Hess, founder of Elevation Burger, Sean Rembold, chef at Brooklyn-based restaurants Marlow & Sons and Diner, and more. More

Dan Barber Says We Need to Like Organ Meat

Duck parts. [Photograph: Chichi Wang] According to chef and food activist Dan Barber, we don't know a lot of things. We don't know where our meat comes from, we don't know what the animal we're eating ate, and we sure don't know how to get behind the stove and take control of what we put in our mouths. In this article in The Nation, Barber writes about the "protein paradox," or the huge waste of edible animal parts such as liver, kidney, and tripe. Barber really wants us to like, or learn to like, organ meat—the bits and bobs typically saved for hot dogs, sausage links, and yes, dog food. He hopes that people will eat meat modestly, and... More

The Battle of the Reusable Shopping Bags

Whole Foods shopping bag carrying the usual fennel, radishes, and gun. Wait what? [wsj.com] The Wall Street Journal is a little skeptical of reusable shopping bags. Just about every chain store seems to have their own custom-made tote, but which is the most functional? Stylish? And made of something you can't pronounce? The piece compares five of the biggest contenders: Whole Foods (features a tree design by Sheryl Crow), Ralphs (made of polypropylene), Target (too Target red-colored), 7-Eleven ("as chic as a Big Gulp"), Trader Joe's (if you're into acid-hued prints), and Dean & Deluca ("all style, no substance"). Related 75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn't Serious Green: Plastic-Less Ways to Transport Your Lunch Does Your... More

Paul McCartney Supports Meat Free Mondays to Cut Carbon Emissions

Paul McCartney is pushing for Meat Free Monday, a U.K.-based initiative encouraging people to reduce meat consumption to slow climate change, according to The Guardian. The goal is to persuade people that going veggie once a week—they've picked Mondays—will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, among the most serious contributors to global warming. According to Meat Free Monday's website, "The UK's Food Climate Research Network suggests that farm to fork is responsible for between 20 to 30 percent of global green house gas emissions. Livestock production is responsible for around half of these emissions." Linda McCartney Foods is showing its support by sharing a meatless recipe every Monday, starting yesterday with a vegetarian bolognese sauce. Other rock stars on board... More

Chocolate Power

©iStockphoto.com/spinetta In New Hampshire, the discarded shells from cocoa beans used to make chocolate for Lindt Lindor truffles may soon be used to create electricity. Engineers at Public Service of New Hampshire, the state's largest electric utility, began testing the husks earlier this month, the Economist reported: The shells, which have a thermal value similar to that of wood, will be mixed with the coal in a 1-to-33 ratio. An important part of the test was to see whether the power company’s coal-grinding machinery could also grind cocoa-bean shells to the required talcum-like powdery fineness; the machinery performed admirably. Unfortunately, there were no large-scale enticing food smells associated with the test. [via teenagefoodie]... More

How to Reduce Your Water Consumption

Good magazine has a water-use "Transparency," a chart that graphically illustrates how much average water is used for various activities and how to reduce it. As we become more and more aware that we may be using water at an unsustainable pace, the idea of water footprints—the amount of water an individual uses—is becoming more common. Water footprints can be hard to calculate, depending on how far up the chain of production you go, since everything you eat and buy used some water to produce. According to the chart, beef represents one of the most intensive uses of water. [via Doobybrain.com]... More

Boxed Water, Like Bottled Water But With Trees

Boxed Water is Better is a boxed water company/art project/philanthropic project that developed from the idea of "creating a new bottled water brand that is kinder to the environment and gives back a bit." The containers are composed 90 percent of trees, and 20 percent of profits are donated to water and forestation organizations. Boxed Water is available in select stores in Michigan. [via BuzzFeed]... More

Eat 3.1 Ounces of Meat for a Happier Earth

Photograph from cobalt123 on Flickr Going almost vegetarian, while allowing a few specks of meat here and there into the diet, is good for Mother Nature. That makes our Meat Lite contributors Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond, who focus on delicious almost meatless recipes, model environmentalists. A piece in Audubon Magazine explains that daily meat consumption per capita should drop from about 12 ounces in America to 3.1 ounces to protect the climate. That's about the size of a deck of cards, explains U.S. News and World Report. Where do your loyalties lie—meat, the earth, or both?... More

Serious Grape: Back to the Barrels? An Old-Fashioned Proposal

On Fridays, Deb Harkness of Good Wine Under $20 drops by with Serious Grape. This week, she rethinks how we should make, package, and ship wine. Photograph from brewrat on Flickr Picture yourself walking into your favorite market. You've got your reusable grocery bags and a few wine bottles with screw caps. You do your shopping, you head to the wine section before checking out, and a nice person in the wine section takes your wine bottles. He or she either fills them with wine or cleans them and gives you replacements, filling the new bottles with wine and screwing on the cap. In a time when everyone is thinking about alternative packaging and the environment, why isn't anyone talking... More

No Surprise Here: 'Glass Is Greener,' Says Glass Lobbyist

In response to Tyler "Dr. Vino" Colman's essay on boxed wine, Joseph J. Cattaneo says: Without a doubt, glass bottles are greener than wine boxes.Calculating a carbon footprint based solely on trucking capacity is myopic and fails to consider the carbon costs for extraction and manufacturing.Just envision the various elements that have to go into creating a wine box. It involves many more steps, materials and energy inputs than are required for making a glass bottle.As for recycling, most communities can handle glass, which is 100 percent recyclable. Good luck finding programs that handle wine boxes.The choice is clear: glass is greener. Setting aside the biases of the messenger (Cattaneo is from the Glass Packaging Institute), does this message ring... More

Eat Kangaroo, Save the Earth?

Photograph from uhuru1701 on Flickr According to Dr. George Wilson of the Australian Wildlife Services, we should switch from eating beef to kangaroos to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike cows and sheep, who produce harmful methane gas, kangaroos produce almost no methane gas. They also have cleaner poop and produce lean, free-range meat! But what does kangaroo tastes like? "It tastes excellent, not unlike venison—only a different flavour," says Dr. Wilson. If you've eaten kangaroo before, what do you think of it?... More

Soy Milk or Cow's Milk: Which Is More Eco-Friendly?

Whenever I admit to drinking soy milk, I immediately add a qualifier: "Only in coffee and cereal. Sometimes. I swear." I don't want to be pegged as a freaky full-time soy-milk drinker because at the core, I identify with "regular" milk. From cows. But every so often there's something about soy milk, especially vanilla, that adds a nice twist to an otherwise sludgy coffee. No offense to furry critters, but I don't drink soy milk for animal rights reasons or anything Mother Nature-related. I drink it because in certain contexts, it's really good. So when Slate reported this week that soy milk isn't necessarily better than cow's milk from an eco-perspective, I appreciated the insight but wasn't any less likely... More

China Bans Plastic Bags

In an effort to curb pollution and litter, the Chinese government has issued a ban on plastic bags, which went into effect June 1. Customers must now supply their own bags from home or pay a fee to get one, and shops found to be violating the ban will face a fine or risk having their goods confiscated. Given that China uses 37 million barrels of crude oil each year to manufacture plastic bags and produces up to three billion plastic bags a day, it's a smart eco-conscious move—and might even bolster China's reputation, which hasn't been doing too great with scandals every which way. China now joins the roster of countries who have gone plastic-free, like Ireland, Uganda and... More

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