Monthly Archives: November 2012

6 Ways to Use Leftover Turkey

I was reading an article the other day that said about one third of the turkey meat bought for Thanksgiving is thrown out after. This doesn’t include the bones. That sounds bad, but not as bad as it could as U.S. food waste is at 40% overall. Even so, it’s a good target to practice at wasting less food.

It’s also important to understand that in the regular food supply, not all of that waste happens in the home. That number comes from the entire food stream, such as losses in transporting food to the store. That’s a bit different from the food waste that comes from throwing out leftover turkey.

1. Freeze the Excess

I don’t let my family get too tired of turkey. I freeze the extra meat first. That means I have quick supplies on those nights that I don’t particularly feel like cooking. This point usually comes after a few days. I just haul out the knife and start carving up whatever is still on the bird.

2. Send Leftovers Home With Guests

If you had company over, offer some of the leftover turkey for the ones who live close enough to take home. You can’t guarantee that they’ll eat it, but some will be quite glad to have it.

3. Toss It In the Skillet

You don’t have to serve plain turkey as leftovers. I find it goes very well with turmeric and cauliflower. Simmer the ingredients together on the stove, possibly with some other vegetables, and it’s pretty good. There are lots of leftover turkey recipes online.

4. Make Turkey Sandwiches

Kind of a classic here, I think. Bread, turkey, and whatever other toppings you enjoy can make an excellent sandwich.

5. Add to Salads

A bit of turkey goes well into a salad. Mix up your favorites, and it’s good for at home or on the go.

6. Turkey Soup

Even though the waste statistic doesn’t include the bones, I prefer to use them up. It’s very easy to make turkey soup. Get a large pot, put the bones in, add a lot of water and start simmering. I usually start mine in the morning, and take the bones out in the midafternoon, by which point the remaining meat comes off very easily.

I even have a bag of frozen vegetables to add in at the start for flavor, ones that would have otherwise gone bad before I got to them in the fridge. Chopping and freezing them means I have great vegetables for homemade soup of whichever variety. Just one more way to cut waste.

The turkey soup needs to be spiced up however you like, and have more things added, depending on your tastes. I find barley works well, as do potatoes or rice. Lots and lots of vegetables, usually beyond my “frozen just in time” supply.

Keeping It Green on Black Thursday/Friday

Some major retailers aren’t satisfied with Black Friday anymore. They’re extending sales so they start Thursday evening. I can’t say the idea pleases me too much, having worked enough retail to know what a pain it is to have time limits on your holiday. But however long the sales go on, one thing you should keep in mind is how you keep your shopping green. Here are some ideas.

1. Participate in Buy Nothing Day

Who says you have to buy anything? You can refuse to participate in the whole Black Thursday/Friday thing and just not go shopping. Easy and more or less stress free. There are even some ideas for those of you who want to get out in the crowds anyhow.

Now, for those who are going to shop…

2. Plan Ahead

You can certainly get some great deals from Black Friday sales. If you’re going to do it, figure out what it is you want to buy, rather than allow yourself to be sucked into buying nearly random stuff because it looked neat and was cheap.

Planning ahead allows you to research your purchases ahead of time. What’s most energy efficient? Are you satisfied with how the products are made and what they’re made of? Are there better alternatives out there?

3. Bring Your Reusable Shopping Bags

They’re such a simple thing, so easy to forget, but also such a good idea to take along. Reusable shopping bags are often more comfortable to carry than plastic, anyhow.

4. Don’t Stress About the Perfect Parking Space

Parking lots can be a nightmare on major shopping days like this. Don’t worry about getting a great parking space. You’ll spend less time idling your engine if you take a more readily available parking space rather than hunting for a close one.

5. Take Public Transportation

On the other hand, you don’t have to drive yourself if there’s good public transportation in your area. Perhaps it isn’t as convenient, but then there’s no struggle to get a good parking space.

6. Check Out the EPA’s Recommendations

The EPA has some good recommendations to keep your shopping more eco friendly, such as buying Energy Star electronics, rechargeable batteries and recycled products.

7. Look For Deals From Eco Friendly Retailers

You hear the most about deals from big box stores such as Walmart and Target, but don’t forget the eco friendly companies out there. Find out which of your favorites have great deals going on. They may not all have deals special to the day, but some will.

8. Consider Gift Certificates, Experiences and Memberships

You don’t have to give a big thing to make a great gift. Think about gift certificates, experiences you can give a person such as rock climbing, seeing a show, etc., and memberships to places they like to go regularly. My mother like to get my kids passes to different places, and while they may not be specifically eco friendly, the experiences are great, and the kids don’t end up with so much toy clutter.

9. Shop Online

Why go anywhere? Handle your shopping from the comfort of your own home. No crowds, less stress, and many deals are available online as well as at the stores in your area.

Top 10 Reasons to Recycle

I’ve long been a fan of recycling, but not everyone is. Some think it’s too hard, even in places where recycling is a matter of throwing it in the recycle bin and not the trash can, not a matter of sorting and taking elsewhere. There are plenty of good reasons to recycle.

1. Save trees.

Ok, kind of boring if it’s not your thing. And yes, trees are easily planted, trees are easily farmed, but a replanted forest is no match for an old growth forest. The biodiversity just isn’t there. True recovery for a forest is a matter of far more than putting some trees in the ground.

2. Paper recycling pollutes less water.

In general recycling paper requires less water and fewer chemicals.

3. Reduces the need for landfills.

If you throw it in the trash, most places it goes into the landfill. Not only can landfill space fill up, there can be problems with toxins leaching into the soil from landfills. Throwing it out just isn’t a solution, especially for toxic products.

4. Reduces incinerator use.

Burning trash doesn’t solve the toxic problems. It just puts them into the air people in the surrounding areas breathe.

5. It takes less energy to reuse aluminum.

Making a new aluminum can from old takes less 95% less energy. There are also savings for recycling glass, PET plastic and more.

6. Glass can keep being recycled.

Recycled glass is as good as new glass. The quality doesn’t decrease as it does for some recycled products.

7. Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of the environment.

Batteries in the landfill eventually release harmful heavy metals such as mercury and lithium into the environment.

8. Recycling electronics keeps toxic materials out of landfills.

It’s amazing how many toxic materials are in computers and other electronics. Dumping them into landfills allows lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and other materials to be released into the environment.

9. Recycling makes more jobs than landfills.

When products are recycled, jobs are created to sort the recycled materials. There are also jobs with the manufacturers who reuse the recycled materials.

10. Recycling costs less than landfills.

This is a bit of a tricky one, as initial collection and sorting does cost more than putting all the trash in the landfill. However, communities can earn much of that back by selling the reclaimed materials to manufacturers, making the overall cost less.

Here are more resources to help you learn about why you should recycle:

Why I Support Prop 37 – the GMO Labeling Proposition in California

There’s a proposition on California’s ballot on Tuesday that is an easy Yes for me. It’s Proposition 37, which would require foods with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled. There’s so much information on labels already that this seems a simple thing. But when you’re going up against companies that don’t want to face the chance of consumer bias against their products, nothing is that simple.

No on 37 Is Deceptive

I found this article on the deceptive ads by No on 37 very interesting. They’re being deceptive about the FDA’s position on the matter, cost claims, and have made misleading statements on the exemptions provided for in the law. Read the whole thing, follow through on the interesting links there, don’t just take my word for it.

Their claim about grocery bills increasing by $400 is rather deceptive too. It’s not that food prices would be directly increased. It’s that opponents believe consumers will insist on higher priced ingredients rather than buying products with GMO ingredients, and so manufacturers might have to change what’s in their products and raise prices.

Frankly, if that’s what consumers prefer, then they’ll choose the higher prices. That’s a choice, not a requirement of the law. I don’t have a problem with people choosing to pay more if they mistrust the ingredients. Personally, and I have nothing to back this up except personal experience, I think most people will ignore such labeling anyhow. How many people are going to switch away from Pepsi just for finding that the high fructose corn syrup may come from genetically modified corn?

All that aside, a study by Joanna Shepherd Bailey, Ph.D., a tenured professor at Emory University School of Law expects that there will be no increased cost to consumers. (PDF) I suspect that claim has more to do with the industry’s general resistance to new labeling requirements, even though changing labels is done regularly and isn’t a major expense.

Research on GMOs is Limited

Producers like to claim that they’ve properly tested GMO foods before sending them to market. That would be nice, but companies have a lot of control over any research done on GM foods. According to Scientific American, licensing agreements forbid research on genetically modified seeds, unless the company agrees to it. They then also get to decide whether or not the results may be published.

That isn’t just a food safety issue, although that’s what’s relevant when talking about Prop 37. It means that it’s harder for other scientists to prove whether or not the genetically modified seeds perform as claimed.

If the companies making GMOs really want proof that their products are safe and more productive, why don’t they welcome outside research?

Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe?

When it comes to the safety of genetically modified foods for human consumption, I’ll stick with the World Health Organization’s view – it’s impossible to state yes or no categorically. Some might be, some might not be. So why not let consumers decide if they want to take that chance?

There have been some controversial studies which suggest that some types are not safe to eat.  Seems clear to me that more study is indicated. If they’re so safe, there’s little to be lost. If not, well, I’d sure like to know that too.

You may also enjoy reading some of the summaries on Pubmed, although you won’t always be able to get the full text without proper credentials. Try Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice and A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health. There’s more, but due to restrictions on research on GMOs, it’s hard to find. Personally, I’d like more long term studies proving that GMOs are safe.

Is the Proposition Poorly Written?

This is one of the big claims of the No on 37 folks. I don’t think it’s all that complex – I’ve read it myself. You can do so too – here’s a copy through KCET, or you can download the PDF from the California Voter’s Guide website. I also really appreciate KCET’s listing of supportors and opponents of Prop 37. It’s really not surprising, on the whole.

There’s not much time before the election, but I hope this article gives at least some people some perspective on this subject so they can come to a decision.