Food Tank: The Food Think Tank celebrates Earth Day with a list of 13 ways to support the future of food, agriculture—and the planet

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM.

Get in touch with agriculture

This time of year, many people are starting to plan vacations. A great way to skip the crowds, save money, and get both children and adults in touch with agriculture is to book a farm-stay through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). WWOOF runs networks in most countries around the world, offering individuals and families the opportunity to directly support small-scale family farmers. Participants spend a few days or weeks living with a host family and helping with tasks around the farm in exchange for free food and lodging.

Get creative in the kitchen

Shopping at farmers markets, which often have a wide selection of less-ordinary produce such as celeriac, sunchokes, or kohlrabi, can prevent “food ruts” by helping consumers try new foods. When looking for inspiration, many popular recipe blogs, such as smitten kitchen, allow users to search by ingredient, as well as season.. Publications such as Diet for a Small Planet and the Boston Globe’s new Sunday Supper and More e-cookbook series also offer tips on reusing leftovers to reduce food waste.

Invest in perennial crops

Perennial plants—plants that grow back every year—tend to hold water in soil more effectively than annuals and help prevent erosion. Their extensive roots also allow them to better access nutrients and water, reducing the need for artificial fertilizer. Researchers from the University of Illinois found that perennial prairie grasses are up to four times as water efficient as row crops such as corn and wheat.  The Land Institute works to breed perennial varieties of corn, wheat, rice, and other annual crops.

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