The Loma Prietan - July/August 2010

Cooking Green

Introducing the Green Food Team

Choose meat-free meals to preserve forests, save water and topsoil, reduce water pollution, make efficient use of nutrients, and curtail climate change.

story and photo by Kay Bushnell

Our Chapter offers Climate Action Team (CAT) training classes, and last fall I eagerly enrolled. The facilitator, Dr. Julio Magalhaes, presented information from the Precourt Institute at Stanford on the amount of CO2 emissions produced by such daily activities as driving, washing clothes, and watching TV. We learned that the amount of CO2 kept from the atmosphere when you select a vegetarian meal instead of a typical meat-based meal would fill 600 party-size balloons. We also learned that 100% plant-based meals (free of dairy and eggs as well as meat) produce even fewer emissions of CO2 than vegetarian meals that include dairy products and eggs. As we tallied our personal scores to see how much CO2 we were preventing by modifying our daily habits, many class participants were astonished by the amount of CO2 that could be reduced by choosing even one or two vegetarian meals a week.

After our training class ended, participants were encouraged to apply what they'd learned to create positive change in their communities. Several of us were inspired to focus on food choices and formed the Green Food Team. What could be more fundamental than food, something that everyone needs several times each day? We felt that the issue of food choices tends to be overlooked in discussions of climate change.

In 2006 our Chapter took an important step to reduce its carbon footprint from food by establishing a sustainable-food resolution. The resolution requires that all food paid for by the Chapter be "generally plant-based and, if possible, locally grown and organic." The resolution also encourages that this policy be applied to all Chapter events where food is served.

A short time after our Chapter established its food policy, the United Nations published "Livestock's Long Shadow" (tiny.cc/cLtuG). This report identified livestock as an even greater producer of global greenhouse gases (18%) than all forms of transportation combined (14%).

How the Green Food Team Serves Our Chapter

Our new team is gathering resources that will make it easy to provide plant-based refreshments at Chapter events.

Helping food providers: When a Chapter event that includes food is in the planning stages, food providers can make use of the Green Food Team's information and materials.

Keeping track of good plant-based food sources: A list of caterers who can provide tasty plantbased food, and records of the foods served at past events, can simplify future food planning. After events are over, food providers can add to this information when they fill out a simple questionnaire.

Educating: Education is a vital component of the Team's purpose. We have designed an attractive poster describing the importance of food choices in curbing climate change, suitable for display at Chapter events. An informational document for caterers that we prepared explains why we are requesting plant-based food.

Sharing our resources community-wide: The Green Food Team's resources are also available to civic organizations, local governments, and others who want to reduce the carbon footprint of their food selections.

If you'd like to learn more about the role of food choices in environmental issues and to explore resources for tasty plant-based foods, please consider joining the friendly Green Food Team. We meet monthly on a Thursday at 6:30pm in Palo Alto. Please see the Chapter calendar online at lomaprieta.sierraclub.org for specific date and location. You may also contact Kay Bushnell at 650-321-4857, or Yuko Fukuda at yukofukuda11@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Chapter member Kay Bushnell has taught plantbased cooking and appeared as The Garden Gourmet in a community-access television series.