Agriculture and Gastronomy can contribute to combating climate change by minimising food waste and utilising culinary creativity straight from your backyard. Jamaican farms on numerous occasions have had organic soil fertilization from the decomposition of unutilized produce left in fields. This natural recycling provides nutrients for new plants and supports climate change. What and how we eat also plays a significant role. Fresh is best, but frozen foods can be just as nutritious. Preserving your foods extends the shelf life and prevents you from tossing your money away. Over ripened and rejected fruits and vegetables may not look pretty, but they can still taste delicious with culinary creativity to make smoothies, bread, jams, sauces, or soup stocks etc.
Back yard gardens are mostly organic, although commercial plots can be too. A gratifying factor of a back yard garden is your contribution to fighting climate change without leaving your home while making it a happier and healthier environment. Organically grown crops have lower carbon footprints and growing your food from homemade fertilizer will save you money. The use of organic fertilizer, mainly compost, reduces the manufacturing and transportation implications of synthetic fertilizers.
Seeds can be removed for planting before adding your peels, trimmings, leaves to be composted. Composting can be a simple dugout in the ground that you keep adding “crap” to while turning occasionally, or you can buy a compost bin on Amazon for $20 that comes with instructions for indoor or outdoor use. For a more extensive and more comprehensive approach, the Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations (FAO) provides a wealth of information on “On-Farm Composting Methods”.
When wasted food or trimmings goes to the dump, gets covered, and rots, the oxygen, starvation results in methane production, a greenhouse gas which is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane does not remain long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide does, but it is more damaging to the climate because of how effectively it absorbs heat. A compost pile, however, decomposes aerobically (with oxygen), producing mainly CO2. Organic farming traps Carbon in the soil purifying the air due to its long-term carbon storage potential.
Another example of organic farming application is the use of grass for mulching. Growing up in St Elizabeth, we use grass for mulching, which supports moisture retention, controls weed growth, and provides a source for vine crops to curl their tendrils. The grass provides a cushion that protects fruits when they sit, and, in the end, it rots and fertilizes the soil. Other benefits include physical exercise in cutting, packing, and spreading. The business of grass is a fascinating but structured venture for another discussion.
Randie Anderson Executive Chef, CEC, CCA, WCEC, MSc Gastronomic Tourism.
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Image taken from Planet Natural Research Centre Home Composting Systems | Planet Natural