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Healthy eating and mostly-from-scratch cooking can yield waste reduction dividends

Without any conscious effort or intention, I stopped using those ketchup sachets about 3 years ago: here is how.

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About 3 years ago I started making a concerted effort to completely overhaul my diet and eat healthier. One step was to eat less fast food. I haven't completely eliminated fast food, but when I do indulge, I no longer order French fries due to their high glycemic index and high calorie count. For me, no French fries means no ketchup sachets.

At home I still eat ketchup (e.g. with sweet potato fries), but I've completely switched to homemade lactofermented ketchup. No cooking is involved if your base starting point is canned tomato paste. Making a two-quart batch of homemade ketchup takes only about 30 minutes of prep time and yields a supply that lasts for months. (About the equivalent of 300 ketchup sachets.) After mixing the ingredients and transferring to a few mason jars, you leave it out at room temperature to ferment for 2 or 3 days before going into the fridge.

Many believe that lactofermented vegetables like kimchi, cold-fermented sauerkraut and traditionally prepared ketchup are very healthy. As a collateral benefit, there is very little waste. The tomato paste cans can be recycled. One also uses whey poured off from plain yoghurt as a starter culture for the lactofermentation, and yoghurt containers can be recycled.

I use the ketchup recipe from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook, more or less, though I add Coleman's mustard and sometimes use honey instead of maple syrup. I always follow the recipe proportions exactly for sea salt and nuoc mam, since salt content is important for inhibiting undesirable bacteria.

My ketchup story is just an example. I think that one will generally find that efforts toward healthier eating and getting away from highly processed foods will have the desirable side effect  of non-recycled waste reduction.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

One intended provocation or insight is that lifestyle changes related to health and food can have side benefits for the environment. Another intended provocation is that, as important as technology is, traditions and the wisdom of the ages should not be overlooked as possible solutions. To me, Dan Barber's work in trying to overhaul our food system hits the tech/tradition balance just right.


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