A Green Kitchen Means A Healthy, Wealthy And Wise Nation ! – #Superbloggerchallenge2018 #Instacuppa
My most striking memories of a kitchen go back to the time when I was a 11 year old kid studying in the 5th grade. During summer vacations my sister and I were usually packed off to my uncle’s place in Manamadurai in Tamil Nadu where we used to have a great time with all our cousins.
My grandmother and aunt used to do the cooking and as is the wont in Indian society all the girls were constantly encouraged to learn cooking. All the boys were excluded from this chivying. This used to strike me as extremely unfair. Why should girls have all the fun?
My grandmother’s kitchen was unlike anything you would ever come across these days. She used to cook using what was called a veragaduppu in Tamil. I am not sure what the English equivalent is, but in Hindi I think it is called Bhatti. Here is an image.
Dry wood was used as fuel. While cooking, the entire kitchen would be a fog of smoke and my poor granny and aunt used to cough a lot.
There used to be no modern grinders in that kitchen. So Dosa and Idli batter had to be made manually using a stone-grind called ammikal in Tamil. Here is an image.
I started off with the intention of writing about an environment friendly, green kitchen and I find myself getting carried away by memories of my childhood and seem to be digressing from the topic. Let us shift our attention to kitchens of today and how one can make them sustainable. Talking of environment friendly kitchens what are the things in a kitchen that contribute to making it green? Simple answer : everything.
From what you eat and how you cook, to the kind of utensils you use and the appliances you have in your kitchen, simply everything matters. I will deal with the various points one by one.
Of course one gets flabbergasted when one hears from chefs that what we eat has a role to play in keeping our environment clean. Sounds far-fetched doesn’t it? But yes; the truth is, you eat healthy, your body stays healthy and so does the environment. You eat junk, your body becomes unhealthy and so does the environment.
My wife is very particular about feeding us sabjis made of fresh vegetables and she generally gives us home made fruit juice and makes sure that no item that can be even remotely harmful ever finds a place in the kitchen. So what type of food items should we eat to keep the environment and our body healthy? It is best if we eat vegetables that do not require too many fertilisers and pesticides for growing. These harm the environment, sometimes contaminate the vegetables themselves and in turn our bodies when we consume them.
For example we can eat green peas instead of soybeans. Tomatoes, Spinach, Lentils and Nuts are also very healthy for the body and very environment friendly. These vegetables leave very little carbon footprint.
As far as possible try to buy vegetables and fruits locally from nearby farms if there are any near your place. You can even buy them from local vendors. There is nothing wrong in buying vegetables from these fellows you see in the market who come early in the morning with fresh vegetables piled on a hand-cart even if they sell it at a slightly higher price than the super-markets. Please do not assume that what they sell is unhygienic just because you see it in a hand-cart instead of a posh super-market shelf. Most of us tend to make a bee-line for the super-markets thinking the stuff there is superior in quality. Vegetables and fruits in super-market shelves are transported by trucks from distant places and leave more carbon footprint.
As far as possible try to avoid processed food. All packed stuff like packed Masala Rice, Pulav and ready to warm Parathas, Puri, Chappathis etc are easy to cook rapidly and consume. They come in very handy when you are in a hurry or when you are alone at home and do not know how to cook. But the problem is they are high in preservatives which are used to keep them fresh and this is not good for the body. Try and avoid them as far as possible.
Let us turn to beverages. When I was a young man I was a connoisseur of aerated drinks. I gave them up once I realised what effect they were having on my body. These drinks are not suited to everyone’s health. Only few people’s physiologies can handle the dissolved gases in such drinks. Another fact is, these drinks are manufactured and transported from distant factories. Generally most manufacturing processes have at least some effect on the environment. Factories making aerated drinks are no exception.
There is nothing simpler than buying fresh fruits like apples, oranges, guava etc and making fresh fruit juice at home. All it takes is a mixy and some patience. And it is also extremely important to be sure that the water used for drinking or making juice is pure and uncontaminated. The best part of processing fruits at home is that you can eat the fruit raw if you like that or consume them as juice if you prefer that. The choice is yours.
After food, the next thing that comes to the mind is the vessels we use in our kitchens, the bottles we use to store the grocery items and the glasses we use for drinking. These are of paramount importance and go a long way towards making your kitchen environment friendly. Generally avoid utensils made of Aluminium. They are harmful for health.
I remember when I was a child, in many orthodox households it used to be considered a privilege to be served food in Silver plates. Silver is costly but it is not unsafe as generally believed. Utensils made of Stainless Steel, wood and Silicon are extremely environment friendly and non-invasive. Avoid using Plastic or Teflon. Use non-sticky utensils as far as possible.
The next thing that comes to the mind is waste disposal. Till a couple of years back, the waste disposal system in the apartment building where I live was very slipshod. We were all given a kind of bag in which we had to dump all the waste higgledy-piggledy and place it outside our doors. This would then be collected and disposed off by the cleaning staff. But off-late they have introduced a new system and we have been given separate Red and Green buckets. All of us have been told to put the non-biodegradable waste in the Red buckets, the biodegradable waste in the Green bucket and place them outside our apartment front doors for disposal.
There is a reason for this. It helps in segregating harmful waste and useful waste. Biodegradable waste can be recycled and used for so many purposes. On the other hand non-biodegradable waste is toxic and nothing can be done with it. It has to be disposed off safely so that it does not harm the environment. One can see that being stringent about waste disposal not only keeps the environment clean but also helps in economic welfare.
In general keep your kitchen neat and clean. A hygienic kitchen helps a lot in keeping the environment clean. I have never been inside a kitchen in a restaurant or a hotel. Sometimes the kind of things I hear about the state of hygiene inside these kitchens makes my stomach churn.
In restaurants and hotels the kitchens are out of bounds and we do not know what the state of hygiene is like inside these kitchens. Maybe some of the things we hear are just wild rumours. But the least we can do is to maintain our kitchens at home properly. It does not take too much effort to keep our kitchens clean. I will wind up this narrative with these final words:
A green kitchen leads to a healthy life for all members of the family. If members of all families in the nation are healthy, all citizens of the country are healthy. If all citizens of the country are healthy the entire nation becomes healthy, wealthy and wise !!!