10 ways to eat greener in Chicago | WBEZ
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Earth Day: 10 ways to eat greener in Chicago

It’s Earth Day again. And you can either drown your climate change sorrows in a bag of cookies or be part of the solution by changing your approach to food.

If you choose to do the latter, you’ve got a lot of options in Chicago, where the food scene is getting a little greener all the time.

Consider these 10 ways to start:

1.       Walk, bike or take public transportation to the grocery store. For most of us, the environmental impact of driving there undoes the impact of using paper or cloth bags.

2.       Perfect a recipe using rice and lentils or beans. The combo is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to deliver a complete protein to your body. And it can be super delicious.

3.       Bring your own container to restaurants for leftovers. Health department rules require that you pack the leftovers yourself, but you’ll save the food and yourself that pile of plastic containers in your home and garbage can. Some places will even let you use your own container for takeout, but make sure you’re not just dumping it from their takeout container to yours.

4.       Get locally milled grains from places like Baker Miller and Hazzard Free Farm. Their nutty taste and relatively high cost mean you will not want to waste a single grain.

5.       Plan a series of meals based on cleaning out what’s in your pantry, fridge and even backyard--lots of wild chives have already sprouted around Chicago.

6.       Start a food plant indoors. No matter how small the plant, nurturing it for a season gives you a whole new appreciation for farmers and fresh food. 

7.       Gather ingredients for a totally local shrimp and greens dinner at The Plant, where they sell house-raised prawns and greens at their Monthly Market, on the first Saturday of each month. Kids at Lane Tech College Prep are learning to perfect this model with a full aquaponics lab that raises tilapia and grows many different kinds of greens.

8.       Sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription, which requires a payment to a local farmer upfront in exchange for regular deliveries of seasonal vegetables throughout the summer and fall. 

9. Check out Chicago restaurants and stores that emphasize local and sustainable produce. There are too many to single out here. But ask your favorite farmers in the farmers market who buys from them.

10.   Join a composting service, try a backyard compost pile or pressure your elected officials to  support municipal composting programs.

We’d love to hear your tips, suggestions and favorite places for sustainable fare around town.

Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at @monicaeng or write to her at meng@wbez.org

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