Why I’m writing about sustainable food – plus, a recipe for a refreshing, simple, peak summer side using juicy tomatoes and tangy stonefruit.
I wanted to make something simple and refreshing using the best produce that the peak of summertime has to offer. I don’t know about you, but when both tomatoes and stonefruit are in season, I can’t get enough. I paired them with cool ricotta and zippy lemon basil (but any type of basil will do – in fact, most herbs will do!) and cracked a bit of black pepper on top to give it a savory edge. The key is in getting the BEST produce you can find. I’m so lucky and grateful to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I looked no further than the farmers market.
To me, there are few things more enjoyable than going to the farmers market. People go to the market to connect, buy directly from farmers and to be part of a community. Here, you can get the tastiest food directly from the people who grew it. There’s nothing more enjoyable and sustainable.
Two years ago, I started an MBA program in Sustainable Management because I wanted to make a positive difference in the world. At the time, I was designing furniture for mass retailers and felt like I was just contributing to the environmental issues we were (and still are) facing, like climate change, water scarcity and consumer waste. Building on my design background with an education in sustainability and business sounded like the right thing to do so I could build my own solutions to the problems I was most passionate about someday.
Fast forward two years, and I graduated from the program a changed person. (For the better!) I have a better understanding of myself and the world we live in. I learned about how to look at issues in order to figure out how to actually solve them, rather than create what we call “bandaid” solutions, like so many we see out there today. There are so many ways we can live more sustainable lives, as individuals.
But where do we start?
Sustainability could encompass every single area of life. Most of us don’t have an understanding of sustainability to even know where to start, and we can only expect ourselves to do so much. Even people who have made a career in sustainability have their own niches–energy, waste, gender rights, racial equity… I’m passionate about food, so that’s where I’m starting.
What does food have to do with climate change? LOTS!
In fact, all things considered–from intensive farming practices and transportation to storage and food waste–food is the #1 contributor to climate change. That ALSO means that it’s the #1 solution to climate change!
A few years ago, Paul Hawken (one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, names in sustainability) got a team of researchers together and combed through all the scientific data that exists about climate change solutions to create a ranked list in order of how much carbon and greenhouse gases they reduce in our atmosphere (to put it simply). This list will be constantly evolving as they get new information and as our world changes, but it’s going to be my go-to source of truth as I strive to make more sustainable food choices myself.
According to Drawdown, the top ways we as individuals can help are by
1. Reducing food waste (#3 out of the top 100 solutions to climate change)
2. Eating a mostly plant-based diet (#4 out of 100)
3. Composting (#60 out of 100)
4. Choosing to buy foods from farmers that practice sustainable farming (which isn’t itself ranked, but there are several farming solutions listed individually and this is super important for individuals to be aware of! More on this in another post.)
This list looks simple, but it can be daunting to adopt these habits in daily life. For many of us, it would require a total overhaul of lifestyle. But that shouldn’t stop us. Like anything, we each need to start small and improve little by little along the way. There’s no one-size-fits-all sustainable lifestyle. We each have to decide what’s manageable for us.
I’m going to uncover the many ways we can make better choices with food, and I’m going to start small. I’m lucky to live in California, where there’s fresh produce available year-round at farmers’ markets, and where a lot of people are open-minded about living more sustainable lifestyles. (Although there is a fair share of people who don’t care, like anywhere else.) I’m grateful to have an MBA in Sustainable Management, which makes it easier for me to know what choices to make than it probably is for a lot of people. I can look at a brand and know whether it’s being genuine or whether it’s just greenwashing. I know what questions to ask to find what is right among all this conflicting information.
I’m going to do my best to research and decipher what I think is best, knowing what I know. It’ll be fascinating for me to learn, and I’m stoked to make it easy for people to make more sustainable choices. I may not always be right, but as long as we are working towards more sustainable lifestyles, it’s better than doing nothing.
Why the Taste of Sun?
Did you know that when you eat food, you’re technically eating a piece of the sun? Well, you’re eating something that harnessed the energy from the sun to grow. (Plants also use water and nutrients from the soil the grow, but “taste of sun” sounded better than “taste of dirt.”)
We’ve all (hopefully!) had that fresh piece of local, organic fruit straight from the tree, or that salad made from peak-season produce. It just tastes better, is better for the environment and makes you feel better knowing you’re putting something good in your body and supporting local producers.
To me, that is the best kind of food. So join me in enjoying the taste of sun!
Summer Stonefruit Salad with Ricotta and Herbs
- Cutting board
- 2-4 stonefruit (peaches, nectarines, pluots, plums) the more tart the fruit, the better
- 1-2 tomatoes the sweeter, the better
- 1 container ricotta
- A few sprigs fresh herbs (basil, mint, maybe even cilantro)
- Good olive oil for drizzling
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- On a serving plate, spread a generous amount of ricotta so it looks fluffy and enticing. Set aside.
- Wash your fruit and tomatoes! Then, slice them into wedges and arrange them on top of the ricotta.
- Tear your herbs into pretty little pieces. If you want, you can tear them into more manageable pieces with your fingers, or slice them into thin strips. This recipe isn't fussy!
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil over top of the dish. Finish with cracked black pepper.
- Serve with breakfast, as a snack or as a side with a grilled meal. Enjoy!