Sure, processed foods can save you a little time. But what you gain in convenience, you lose in money, environmental impact and maybe even health.
That’s because processed foods require more labor to convert them from their natural state to something that fits in a box, bag or tub. You’re also paying for the chemicals added to the processed food to keep them fresh. You’re paying for the packaging, too, which is totally worthless once you get it home. Indeed, $1 out of every $11 you spend at the grocery store you spend on packaging you throw away.
Speaking of that packaging, it’s probably the biggest source of trash in your home. Think about the pile of empty boxes, bags and wrapping you’re left with after you unload your groceries and put them in the refrigerator or cupboard. Plastic waste is especially egregious since many communities still don’t recycle and it doesn’t biodegrade. Instead, it turns into millions of pieces of microplastic that get in the oceans and soil and that animals mistake for food.
Here are eight processed foods that normally come wrapped in paper or plastic that you can easily make at home. They’ll be fresher, cheaper and waste-free if you skip plastic produce bags and take your own when you shop.
Yogurt couldn’t be easier to make at home. Heat a half-gallon of milk to about 180 degrees, using a candy thermometer to test the temperature. You can heat it on the stove, but I usually do it in the microwave to prevent scalding. Let it cool to 110 degrees. Put a quarter cup of the milk in a glass or small mixing bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of powdered milk if you want thicker yogurt (this step isn’t essential). Add the mixture back into the bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt and whisk into the milk. Cover the bowl with a towel. Some people then put the bowl in a warm oven. I wrap mine in a heating pad, which I set on its highest setting for a couple of hours and then turn down to low for a few hours. It will take 4-6 hours for the milk to become yogurt. You can spoon it into individual serving jars or keep it in the bowl. Use the whey that collects in the bottom of the bowl in pasta sauces, salad dressings or just stir it back into the yogurt.
Buy raw chickpeas in bulk at your grocery store or food coop. If possible, use your own reusable bag to hold the peas. At home, soak them in water to cover overnight until soft. Or simmer them for a couple of hours until soft. Drain the chickpeas, rinse under running water, then drain and toss into a food processor with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons tahini, salt, pepper, a clover or two of chopped garlic and the juice from at least half a lemon. Process until smooth. Season to taste, adding more lemon, garlic or tahini as desired.
3. Shredded Cheese
Pre-shredded cheese always comes in a plastic bag or tub along with chemicals to prevent mold growth and even the dust from wood pulp which is added to prevent the cheese from clumping. Why not grate your own cheese instead? It will be fresher, cheaper and you can minimize packaging if you buy a chunk of cheese from your deli counter rather than in the dairy aisle.
4. Salad Dressing
Most salad dressing is sold in plastic bottles which are hard, if not impossible, to recycle in most communities. Yet, DIY salad dressing couldn’t be easier to make and it’s tasty, too. For a simple vinaigrette, combine 1 part olive oil to 3 parts red wine vinegar in a clean jar with a lid. Add minced red onion, a sprinkling of salt, pepper and garlic powder and 1 or 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard. Stir vigorously until well combined. Adjust seasonings to taste. You can replace red wine vinegar with fresh lemon juice, add finely chopped basil or fiddle with it in other ways you like. For more ideas, see 7 Fantastic Salad Dressings You Should Make Today.
If you’ve never made your own mayonnaise, you’re in for a real treat. It’s fresh, flavorful and very creamy. Check out Alton Brown’s recipe, which whips together an egg yolk, salt, dry mustard, a bit of sugar, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and of course, oil. Double or triple the ingredients depending on how much you need, keeping in mind it will last just about a week in the fridge. Store it in glass jars with tightly fitting lids. And don’t miss this great Care2 post, 12 Surprising Uses for Mayonnaise.
I find most processed ketchup contains way too much sugar. You can dial the sweetness down and turn up the spices and flavor if you make your own. You can make it from canned tomatoes, but to skip the packaging, use fresh plum tomatoes you get at the grocery store or farmers market. Peel, seed and dice the tomatoes, add a tablespoon or so of minced red onion, a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar, minced garlic and hot sauce if you want some spice. Process in a food processor. If it’s not as thick as you’d like, simmer it on low until some of the liquid evaporates. You can also play with spices like ground ginger, cinnamon, honey and cloves. The beauty of making it yourself is that you can make it exactly the way you like it. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Why buy this in plastic tubs when it’s so much better made fresh? Chop fresh tomatoes into a small dice until you have about two cups. Add around a quarter cup chopped red onion and a smattering of diced green peppers or cucumbers if you want more veggies. Flavor with lime juice, chopped cilantro leaves, a teaspoon or so of ground cumin, a couple of cloves of garlic minced and something hot—Sriracha, Tabasco, chili pepper flakes or chopped chili peppers. Add the heat incrementally so you don’t overdo it.
Most juice comes in plastic throwaway bottles or jugs. You can make your own orange, tangerine and grapefruit juice simply by cutting the fruit in half and using a hand juicer to press out the liquid. For vegetable juices and apple or pear juice, you’ll probably need an actual juicing machine (most food processors will simply puree the fruit or veggies, not juice them). But if you drink a lot of juice, it might be worth the investment to buy an electric juicer.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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