WWF Switzerland was encouraging us all to have a vegetarian lunch today, and while they didn’t catch some of us on time, their reminder that meat should be the exception, not the rule for meals, will come with me to the supermarket as I buy tonight’s dinner supplies.
If you eat meat in moderation six times a week you’ll reduce by 10 percent on your global environmental footprint, because meat consumption is linked to one-third of our food imprint, says the WWF. Better yet, cut down to three times a week, if you don’t fancy being a vegetarian, and you’ll reduce your food footprint by 20 percent.
A couple suggestions from WWF: avoid breaded veal and buy plain bio veal for a better impact on soil, water and climate use. Pork chops: buy bio pork, just for special occasions.
20 sensible environmental food tips from WWF
- Select vegetarian recipes and use in-season products
- Choose fruits and vegetables grown in fields, not hot houses
- Grow your own vegetables, on your balcony or in your garden
- Reduce your consumption of meal, poultry, fish, seafood and milk products
- To reduce your environmental footprint by 20 percent, cut back meat products to three times a week.
- Buy field fruits and vegetables
- Go for local products
- Opt for bio meats
- Buy only fish labelled MSC or bio fish
- Buy fair trade products
- Don’t buy frozen foods
- Give up convenience foods
- Avoid produts that use too much packaging
- Do your shopping by bicycle or on foot
- Shop close to home and avoid driving to distant shopping centres
- Re-use your shopping bags
- Only buy the quantity you need
- Cook using covers as often as possible
- Heat cooking water in a kettle and use a pressure cooker as much as possible
- Use tap rather than bottled water.
Red, yellow, green, and orange tomatoes now available in Lake Geneva region
Tomato season is well under way, and here are a few suggestions for using them.
Remember you can’t judge a tomato by its cover. By that I mean, the best tomatoes may well be the ugliest. They have not been sorted to meet some regulation as to size, shape and color. They can even be marked “Geneva,” “Lausanne” or “Vevey”, and never have had a root in the earth. Tomatoes can be grown hydroponically just about anywhere, so the fact that it’s marked with a local name is not absolute assurance that it will be full of flavor like a summer tomato should be and that it has been grown using traditional methods.
There are a lot of resellers in farmers markets, and then there are direct producers. Don’t hesitate to ask the vendors in your farmers market if they grew their tomatoes in a field or if they were grown hydroponically or in a greenhouse (often referred to as sous tunnel or en serre). “Field” tomatoes are obviously likely to have more taste.
The best way to be sure is of course to grow them yourself, but we do not all have the possibility, of course.
The appearance is just one factor. Smell is just as important. A natural, ripe tomato smells fragrant when you put it to your nose. A small tomato can have as much taste as a big one. Tomatoes should be soft, but not blemished or split open. If they are hard and are not aromatic, they are probably not field tomatoes.
A tomato can have hard black “calluses” on it, but that has no effect on its flavor. Simply trim them off.
In general the darker the color, the stronger the taste and the more acidic. Yellow and orange tomatoes are sweet, rather like fruit. Red tomatoes have more pizzaz. The darker, purplish ones are strong-flavored and not to everyone’s taste.
Green tomatoes tend to be more acidic. Most people prefer them cooked rather than raw, but this is a matter of taste.
How to eat a summer tomato
There are million ways to eat tomatoes, but ripe summer tomatoes need very little.
My favorite way of eating them is simply with salt and pepper, and perhaps a drizzle of olive oil. A beautiful addition to any summer lunch is a large plate of sliced tomatoes of different colors, served in this way. It is always a hit, both aesthetically and as a dish.
Tomatoes are also good grilled over the coals. For this, choose medium-size tomatoes, so they won’t fall through the grille. Simply cut them in half and grill for about 3 minutes on each side. This intensifies the flavor, giving it what the French call a confit flavor. What it really does is evaporate most of the water, leaving behind the most flavorful part, the flesh. The natural sugar in the tomato also caramelizes, making it taste sweet rather than acidic.
Tomatoes, courgette (zucchini), and aubergines (eggplant) — the classic Mediterranean vegetables — are all in season at about the same time. There are endless recipes one can think up, but one of my favorite is to mix finely diced tomatoes, zucchini and chopped onions marinated in a generous helping of vinaigrette made with Balsamic vinegar, Chardonnay vinegar and olive oil.
And then there’s the all-time favorite: mozzarella served with tomatoes and fresh basil. This too can be livened up by using tomatoes of different colors.
Cleaning vinegar: an ecological, economical multipurpose cleaning product
White distilled vinegar is still a standard cleaning product in Switzerland. It can replace many of the more expensive, name-brand cleaning products with all their “new and improved” claims and hefty price tags.
It’s not new, and it’s not improved, but it serves hundreds of purposes around the house.
You can buy it in any supermarket in Switzerland. You’ll find it in the cleaning products section, under the name Vinaigre de nettoyage. In France, simply buy vinaigre blanc in the vinegar section of the supermarket. Any Carrefour, Super U, Champion or Casino carries it.
Cleaning vinegar is not only economical; it is also ecological and non-toxic.
You can easily pour it into a spray bottle for easier use.
To remove odors
Wipe down inside of refrigerator with vinegar to remove odors. Mix it with baking soda to remove odors from garbage cans. It can generally be used to remove odors of all types, including mildew and musty smells.
To remove build-up of lime or corrosion
Put vinegar on a sponge or soft cloth to shine chrome sink taps. Fill kettle with vinegar and let it sit overnight to remove lime deposits.
To remove stickers and glue
On windows or other spots that have the left-overs of an adhesive hook, price tag or sticker, use pure vinegar.
To clean windows
Use vinegar and old newspaper to clean windows. Newspaper works much better than paper towels, because it leaves no white paper traces.
To remove grease
Vinegar is also good for removing grease on exhaust hoods and oven grills.
Cleaning vinegar is good for removing the film that forms on kitchen cabinets, cutting boards, and stovetops. To remove tea or coffee stains from porcelain or china, soak in vinegar, mixed with either soda or salt. After cutting onions or garlic, clean your hands with vinegar to remove the smell.
WARNING: Vinegar is an acid, so it should never be used on marble.
When washing fruit, vegetables and other food, fill a basin or bowl of the appropriate size or the sink with cold water, and dip the food in it, instead of running water over it with the spray nozzle or holding it under the tap.