CLOSED-LOOP COOKING

CULTIVATING A CONSCIOUS KITCHEN

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

Want to waste less in the kitchen and eat better? Check out this article by Co-Editor Kate on "closed-loop cooking."

Last summer, I went to work for an urban farm in Portland, Oregon. I’d wake at six to harvest Easter Egg radishes and bike home in the sherbet-pink sunset, too damn tired to care that I was wearing my helmet over my sunhat. Everything was beautiful and hard and I was always hungry.

Balancing my Olympian-athlete-in-training appetite with a tiny budget wasn’t easy and so I had to learn not to waste a thing. The bitter leaves of turnips tasted sweeter scrambled with ripe figs; oft-discarded zucchini blossoms were heaven stuffed with a vegetable pilaf and served on my favorite plate.

Later that year, I learned about Imperfect Produce, a Bay Area-based CSA that rescues “cosmetically challenged” cuties from farms and sells them for a fraction of the supermarket cost. This creative response to massive food waste reinvigorated my desire to eat cleaner. Not “clean” as in green juice—“clean” as in minimal waste.

My idea for “closed-loop” cooking (C.L.C.) grew organically from these experiences. I wanted to winnow the distance between my values and my actions. I wanted to eat in a way that nourished my body and the earth. And I wanted a good reason to not have to take out the trash.

With that in mind, I decided to try to spend one week generating as little food waste as possible, by truly considering what gets wasted at each juncture in the route from farm to fork.

Take the closed-loop challenge with us by following our guide to reducing your footprint. And have fun with it because being a conscious cook isn't just kind to the planet; it's a way to take care of your succulent self.