Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Saving the planet with jalapeño poppers

February 1, 2013

Looking to save the planet? Apparently, jalapeño poppers will take care of that.

Browsing around on line, I ran across a recipe geared towards that great orgy of sports and entertainment, the Super Bowl. “Cheap, Sustainable, Delicious: Jalapeño Poppers” the headline promised.

Sustainable? While the article didn’t mention what, exactly, made them sustainable, it did look like a nice, easy recipe for a popular food that can contain upwards of 50 ingredients in commercially, mass-produced versions (Sodium Hexametaphosphate, anyone?). Compare that to the recipe’s nine ingredients, all easily pronounced and requiring no reference materials, and – yes – they are, in comparison, sustainable. But really, is that the draw? And, really, does making Super Bowl snack decisions based on perceived sustainability make any sense?

One of my guilty pleasures over the past couple of weeks has been watching the breast beating and cries of remorse over quinoa. The problem? Apparently, new first world demand for the vile little grain has risen so much that it’s now priced out-of-range for the Bolivian and Peruvian people who have relied upon it for centuries as an important source of protein.

“Quinoa was, in marketing speak, the ‘miracle grain of the Andes’,” reported the Guardian last month,”a healthy, right-on, ethical addition to the meat avoider’s larder (no dead animals, just a crop that doesn’t feel pain). Consequently, the price shot up – it has tripled since 2006 – with more rarified black, red and ‘royal’ types commanding particularly handsome premiums.”

Premiums that Andean peasants can’t afford.

In our drive to find food, or just about anything really, that doesn’t harm the planet or ourselves, we go to bizarre lengths. Importing grains from thousands of miles away seems perfectly reasonable to otherwise smart people, despite the fact that there are countless meatless sources of protein available to us here in the United States. (Who am I to criticize? I think nothing of buying Chilean wine and Indian tea.)

The problem I have with those jalapeño poppers? It’s not the recipe. It’s certainly not the encouragement to make something from scratch. It’s the heavy dose of dogma (season to taste). For anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint or to simply live with slightly less impact on others around them, cooking from scratch is the way to go. For anyone who simply likes real food, rather than something frozen in a pouch, cooking from scratch is the only way to go.

So, enjoy the Super Bowl. Enjoy the poppers. But, for everyone’s’ sake, go easy on the dogma. That stuff’ll kill ya.