Seaspiracy inspires grocery store to stop selling fish

April 8, 2021 by  
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“Seaspiracy” is trying to save the oceans, and the new Netflix documentary and movement is making strides. Already, it’s convinced Slowood, a grocery store in Hong Kong , to phase out the sale of fish products. The documentary is produced by Kip Anderson, who also brought the world “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health.” “Seaspiracy” teaches viewers about the global fishing industry’s detrimental effects on oceans. It also shines a light on corruption, slave labor in the shrimp industry and the problems with so-called sustainable fish certifications. Related: Bottom trawling contributes more carbon emissions than air travel “Netflix’s new documentary ‘Seaspiracy’ has opened our eyes to the overwhelming and damaging effects the fishing industry has on our whole ecosystem ,” Slowood announced on social media. “I bet you will stop eating fish after watching this movie. Slowood will take a step forward and stop selling fish. At Slowood, we believe every tiny step counts and hope to join our community to make the world a better place. Stop crying over the planet, let’s take this step forward to ocean conservation together.” The store has pledged part of the proceeds from its remaining inventory of fish products to Sea Shepherd, a vegan ocean conservation group. “ Seaspiracy ” debuted on Netflix on March 24 and was an instant hit. It ranked in the top 10 Netflix spots in more than 40 countries, and it reached No. 1 in Ireland, Hong Kong, the U.K., Estonia, Croatia, Singapore, Malta and Switzerland. The “Seaspiracy” website highlights three top ways to save the ocean: shift to a plant-based diet, enforce no-catch marine reserves and end fishing subsidies, which currently stand at $35 billion per year. Ali Tabrizi, director and narrator of “Seaspiracy,” is thrilled with people’s interest. “It’s thanks to you all that this movement has well and truly started, and we have the needed overwhelming public support to take this issue to governments and industries worldwide to make huge systematic changes,” Tabrizi posted on Instagram. Via VegNews Image via Shutterbug75

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Seaspiracy inspires grocery store to stop selling fish

Will meat eaters really switch to alternative proteins?

February 12, 2021 by  
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Will meat eaters really switch to alternative proteins? Jim Giles Fri, 02/12/2021 – 00:05 This analysis originally appeared in the Food Weekly newsletter, which is a year old this week. New readers can sign up here . One thing I’ve been pretty upbeat about over the past year is the emergence of alternative proteins. Prices of lab-grown and plant-based meat are falling just as awareness of the climate impact of livestock is growing. That doesn’t bode well for the meat industry. I’m now wondering if that analysis is a little gung-ho. Two recent developments suggest consumers may be less willing than I’d anticipated to switch to alternative proteins, and a third piece of news confirms governments are typically unwilling to nudge them in that direction. Before I unpack the developments, a quick note on how I think about animal products. I’m not arguing everyone needs to go vegetarian or vegan. But the science is clear on two points: We need to dramatically cut food system emissions; and red meat is responsible for an outsized share of those emissions. So either ranchers figure out how to produce low-carbon beef — and it’s far from certain they can — or we eat less red meat. That latter option, however, turns out to be unpopular. And not just here in the land of the burger, but pretty much everywhere in the world.  Last month, the United Nations Development Program released the results of the Peoples’ Climate Vote , a survey of 1.2 million people from 50 countries. The severity of the climate crisis was widely appreciated — almost two-thirds of respondents described it as an emergency. Some climate solutions, including forest conservation and renewable energy, also were supported by more than half of all respondents. But when people ranked 18 of those solutions, promotion of plant-based diets came out last, with just 30 percent support. The science is clear on 2 points: We need to dramatically cut food system emissions; and red meat is responsible for an outsized share of those emissions. A survey of that size and geographic reach inevitably obscures important regional differences, but a new study of just over 3,200 U.S. consumers also contains sobering news for alternative proteins.  In one part of the study, researchers looked at how price affects consumer preference for a regular burger versus one with a Beyond Meat patty. Knocking $1 off the price of the Beyond burger dented sales of the regular version by just 0.5 percent. Yet the same cut in the price of the animal burger led to an almost 4 percent increase in sales for that product. The take-home is that consumers seem to be more sensitive to prices of animal meat, suggesting that the ongoing fall in prices of plant-based alternatives may have a smaller impact than you would expect. The results do show some consumers switching to plant-based burgers as prices fall, notes Jayson Lusk, an economist at Purdue University and a co-author of the study. But you’re going to get the “biggest bang for the buck,” he added, by changing the price of beef. This isn’t great news for Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and others working to cut the price of plant-based meat. But it does suggest a clear role for governments. Many economists would argue that meat-eaters should pay more for burgers anyway, because the cost of the product does not cover the harm that it causes. Introducing a meat tax therefore would be justified on economic grounds. According to the research, it also would shift people toward plant-based diets. Reports in the British media suggest that last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson was indeed considering levying taxes on meat and cheese . He didn’t mull it over for long. News of the plan was greeted by negative headlines, followed by a hurried assurance from Downing Street that “we will not be imposing a meat tax on the great British banger.” The option is being debated elsewhere in Europe, but can any of you imagine any influential U.S. politician taking a stance different to Johnson’s? Where does this bevy of bad news leave plant-based meats? I’m not sure it will overly concern the strategists at Beyond, Impossible and rivals. I doubt their business plans assume that governments will raise prices of animal meat, at least not in the United States. The challenge for these companies always has been to create a product that beats meat on the three things consumers care most about: convenience; price; and taste. The recent news simply confirms how unlikely it is that governments will assist, and also how hard it will be to persuade meat-eaters to switch to plant-based alternatives. Pull Quote The science is clear on 2 points: We need to dramatically cut food system emissions; and red meat is responsible for an outsized share of those emissions. Topics Food & Agriculture Plant-Protein Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A Beyond Meat consumer package, shown in a grocery store meat section. Courtesy of Beyond Meat

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Recycling Mystery: Meat Packaging

January 12, 2021 by  
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If you buy meat in a grocery store, it likely … The post Recycling Mystery: Meat Packaging appeared first on Earth 911.

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Luxury apartments feature underground rec club and a massive green roof

July 22, 2020 by  
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The Excellenseaa 126 apartment complex is designed to create its own sustainable microclimate with a green roof and open spaces. Located in Surat, India, this luxury development houses 126 apartments within six 11-story buildings. Out of the 318,611-square-foot space, over 70% is landscaped, and the entire property centers around a large focal garden that stretches over 139,930 square feet. Apartments come in three different sizes, with layouts of up to five bedrooms and a private gym. About 80% of the plot is car-free , and vehicular movement is restricted to the complex’s perimeter and a basement car park available to residents. Each floor contains two apartments with a penthouse on top. Related: This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm One of the most impressive elements of this apartment complex is the design of its partially subterranean recreation club. The central garden sits on top of expertly landscaped angular planes with clean lines to add a touch of modernity to the organic elements. Take a closer look, and the garden is, in actuality, a green roof covering the complex’s partially submerged communal area. The club includes entertainment facilities, conference rooms, a grocery store, a medical center, multiple sports facilities and play areas for children of different ages. A variety of water features, trees and plants gives the entire space a natural feel while assisting in passive cooling . The green roof design helps to shelter the club from solar heat gain while simultaneously allowing natural ventilation and light to pass through. Apartments themselves are kept cool and sheltered by 900-square-foot cantilevered decks that help facilitate cross ventilation in the warm months. This aspect comes especially in handy, as the area experiences temperatures topping 95 degrees Fahrenheit for eight months out of the year. The complex also utilizes water recycling, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and solar paneling to reduce its carbon footprint . + Sanjay Puri Architects Photography by Mr.Abhishek Shah via Sanjay Puri Architects

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What Taco Bell’s menu changes mean for fast food-loving vegans

July 22, 2020 by  
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Taco Bell has some good news and some bad news for vegetarians. The company will eliminate its potato items, long a favorite among fast food-loving vegetarians and vegans, and add faux meat for an added veg  protein  option beyond beans. Like many restaurants this year — at least the ones still in business despite the  pandemic  — Taco Bell is streamlining operations and simplifying its offerings. Starting on August 13, the menu will be shorter. No more can people order a soft taco with potato, cheese, chipotle sauce and lettuce. But don’t think veg folks are being targeted. Other items on the chopping block include the grilled steak soft taco, 7-layer burrito, nachos supreme and the beefy Fritos burrito. In all, 12 menu items are headed for retirement. Related: Taco Bell launches new menu for vegetarians “We know some  vegetarian  go-to items might be gone, but Taco Bell’s menu remains highly customizable,” the company said in an announcement. “Don’t forget to lookout for the vegetarian symbol on menus to indicate vegetarian products, and remember you can swap out any protein for beans in any menu item.” Last year, Taco Bell unveiled a handy vegetarian filter on its website, allowing diners to customize dishes to be  vegan . At that point, the company gave plant-based meats a pass, relying on beans as its featured veg protein. But in February this year, CEO Mark King revealed that the fast-food chain has reconsidered. Executives have met with both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat and expect to introduce plant-based meat choices next year. “While change is hard, a simplified menu and innovation process will leave room for new fan favorites, continued progress in categories such as  plant -based diets, and even opportunities for the return of some classics on a limited-time basis,” the company stated.  Anybody remember enchiritos? Maybe it’s time for a comeback — vegan style. + Taco Bell Via VegNews Image via Mike Mozart

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Your guide to preserving, storing and canning food

April 30, 2020 by  
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If you’ve stepped foot in a grocery store or filled an Instacart recently, you know there are a variety of items that are in low supply. In fact, butter and sweet pepper shortages appear to be a sign of these very uncertain coronavirus times. So whether you’re looking for ways to preserve what you already have in the house or are setting goals to be better about reducing food waste in the future, we’ve got some pointers regarding the proper way to save everything from milk to peaches so you can enjoy them down the road.  Freezer  Your freezer is a golden opportunity to store ripening fruit and wilting greens . If you fear your container of strawberries, mango, or pineapple is a day away from passing its prime, cut it into cubes and put it on a cookie sheet. Flash freeze the cubes and then transfer them to a freezer safe bag. Use fruit in smoothies, compote, or pies later on. Avocados can be frozen in peeled halves or mash them and store in a bag or container to use for guacamole at a later date.  Related: Use texture, height and variety to create pizzazz in your small garden this fall Some dairy products can also be stored in the freezer, although it may change the consistency a bit. Butter can go directly in, boxes or plastic and all. Milk can be repackaged or frozen whole. It will expand, but that’s what those divots on the sides of the container are for, really. Cheese also stores well, but maintains a better texture if grated first. Be sure to package tightly and remove air before freezing.  Vegetables and freezers make great partners. Some foods first need to be blanched in order to start the cooking process. This simply means steaming or boiling them for a few minutes before cooking and prepping in containers or bags for the freezer. Blanch asparagus, broccoli, leafy greens, okra, peas, summer squash, brussel sprouts, artichoke hearts, and cauliflower . Blanching times range from one to six minutes. Some sources will tell you to also blanch corn, sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes, but it’s not really necessary. Garlic bulbs can be frozen with or without the skin. A note: the purpose of blanching is to break down the enzymes that cause decay. While unblanched frozen food is safe to eat, the consistency and/or color may suggest otherwise.  To prepare for freezing, remove the core from tomatoes, then cut and place into a freezer safe bag. Peel and cut onions before freezing. You can combine onions with a variety of colored sweet peppers for an instant fajita mixture.  Pickling Pickling is a fermentation process that has been around for generations. It’s simple to do, although some processes are fast and others require patient observation while the process takes place. Pickle red and yellow onion, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and other favorite veggies by first cleaning and cutting into slices or spears.  One technique is called quick pickling. This results in a snackable product in just a few days, but lacks the deeply pickled taste of long-fermentation. Combine equal parts vinegar (any type) and water. You can add herbs, spices, garlic, or ginger to create unique flavor profiles. For a combination of one cup water to one cup vinegar, add one tablespoon kosher salt or two teaspoons pickling sale and an optional one tablespoon of table sugar. Boil the mixture until the dry ingredients dissolve. Stuff vegetables into clean canning jars and top with the boiling liquid, filling within ½ inch of the top. Seal with a lid and refrigerate. Wait a minimum of 48 hours before opening. The longer they sit, the fuller the flavor will be.  To ferment the traditional way, use a large crock or other container that can be out of your kitchen circulation for a few weeks. There are many, many recipes for different foods and flavors but the basic process is again to prep foods by cleaning and disposing of end pieces . Slice in the shape you prefer. Then make a brine with water, acidic vinegar, and salt. Combine in the crock and let them sit a few weeks. Once fermented, pack into jars. Different foods call for different processing times, but typically range from 15-30 minutes.  Canning Canning foods is an excellent preservation technique. Many vegetables can be made in a pressure cooker or instant pot. To can green beans, for example, select fresh beans. You will need one to three pounds per quart jar. Blanch and then cut them into bite-size pieces. Pack them into hot jars, add salt, and cover with hot water. Release trapped air from the jar and leave about an inch of space at the top. Place the jars into a pressure cooker and follow directions to create the proper amount of cooking pressure based on your model. Use caution when handling hot items.  Fruits, jams and tomatoes are processed in a simple water bath and create a plethora of food options with no waste . When your tomatoes go crazy at the end of summer, you can also make a variety of sauces to get you through the winter. Try salsa, marinara sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, etc. All of these items are cooked in a pot and then added to hot, sterile jars. Wipe the top of the jar with a clean cloth and seal with lid and ring immediately. Then submerge into a water bath for the recommended amount of time. The process is similar for peaches, pears, jams, and applesauce, with a bit of variation in the preparation. You can even make apple pie filling and can it to reheat and serve over ice cream or add to a pie crust during the upcoming months.  Proper Storage Even if you don’t plan to process your food, you can make it last longer with proper storage. Hearty onions can be stored for ten months or more in the proper conditions. The ideal location is a cellar or shed that maintains a temperature of around 40 degrees F. Also stored in a cool, dark location, garlic will store for several months. For both foods, be sure they are properly cured (dried) before storage. Potatoes can also join the cold and dark party where they should remain fresh for at least three months.  Images via Source Name 

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Solar-powered hotel on Grand Cayman features turtle-friendly lighting

April 30, 2020 by  
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Thankfully, the world is coming around to the fact that eco-friendly travel doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort or luxury. As one of Kimpton’s latest sustainable properties, Kimpton’s Seafire Resort + Spa is leading the way for travelers who want to enjoy gorgeous locations while doing their part to protect the environment. Located on the beautiful Grand Cayman, the eco-resort was built with several green features, including solar power , LED lighting, recycled building materials, native plants and even turtle-friendly lighting. Located on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, the green hotel is the first of the Kimpton hotels built beyond the continental U.S. Perched on a slope overlooking the crystal-blue sea, the luxury property features 264 guestrooms, three distinct dining destinations, an 8,500-square-foot spa and two seaside pools all surrounded by gorgeous gardens. Related: Solar-powered eco hotel in Portugal offers surfers ocean views from green-roofed bungalows Although the aesthetics and the amenities of the beautiful hotel are sure to delight guests during their stay, it is really the hotel’s sustainable profile that makes the property stand out. While it is still considered a challenge to equip large hotel properties with proper eco-friendly features, the Seafire Resort manages to pack a punch when it comes to sustainability. In addition to using a 100,000-watt solar array to generate electricity, the hotel was built with several eco-friendly materials meant to reduce its impact. For example, guests walking or riding along the eco-resort’s many biking and walking trails will be happy to know that they are treading on a path made entirely out of recycled glass , which, according to the hotel, has diverted millions of glass bottles from local landfills. Additionally, the ample green spaces were planted with 32,000 individual plants , all native to the island and sourced from a local nursery. The gardens are irrigated through the hotel’s integral rainwater harvesting system. As part of its dedication to local wildlife, the hotel also boasts turtle-friendly lighting to prevent disrupting sea turtles’ journeys from land to sea during nesting season. The common areas and the guests rooms are all equipped with LED lighting. Additionally, small but effective measures have been put in place to help guests share in the responsibility of being more energy-efficient . Most of the guest rooms include private balconies, but as soon as the doors are opened, the geothermal air conditioning automatically shuts down, avoiding energy loss. + SB Architects Via Interior Design Images via Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa

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Solar-powered hotel on Grand Cayman features turtle-friendly lighting

How to volunteer during COVID-19

April 14, 2020 by  
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In times of crisis, many people feel the desire to help their communities. But the current stay-at-home orders prevent taking action. Right now, unless you are an essential worker, the most helpful thing to do is stand down. Still, everyday heroes are finding social distancing-approved ways to be of service to their communities . If you are inspired to help, here are some safe ways to volunteer your time and skills to those in need during COVID-19. Deliver groceries Everybody needs food , but a trip to a grocery store has suddenly become dangerous, especially for older folks or those with underlying health conditions. In Portland, Oregon, Meals on Wheels closed its dining centers last month, increasing the need for drivers to deliver meals to seniors. In CEO Ellie Hollander’s April 9 newsletter, she reported the local Meals on Wheels branch was serving 1,396 more people than it had the month before. But because more than 1,800 new volunteers answered the pandemic-related call, the meals will go on. Many cities might not be so fortunate, so check with your local branch to see if you’re able to donate time or money. In Washington, Kirkland Nourishing Network (KNN) has been providing food boxes to families in need for 7 years. This month, it expanded to provide gift cards. “We’ve solicited donations and then purchased and handed out 500-plus Safeway gift cards to families with school kids,” said Lynette Erickson Apley, KNN’s north site manager. “We’ve done two rounds and are slated for a third round in a few weeks.” More informal grocery services are also popping up. In my own neighborhood, I’ve seen flyers tacked up to telephone poles recruiting volunteers to go shop for groceries and deliver them to people in the area. This is happening around the country. Of course, if you know neighbors who are older, have illnesses or have weakened immune systems, you could offer to pick up a few items when you brave the trip to the store and leave some groceries on their porches. Make masks for essential workers Crafters have already been busy sewing masks for essential workers since March. But because the CDC issued new guidelines recommending everyone to wear a mask when venturing out in public, home seamstresses have upped their efforts to protect their communities. Related: How to make your own face masks “I got involved with Mask Match after my classmate heard about it on a podcast,” said Briana Corkill, a medical student in Phoenix. Mask Match solicits donations of filtration, surgical and homemade masks for healthcare workers. “It seemed like a great way to be helpful from home. For me, volunteering comes with the territory of learning to be a doctor, but it’s especially important now, while humans figure out how to support each other through this pandemic.” Corkill found the process easy and fast. “Zero skill was needed, they teach you how to do everything and it’s super straightforward and easy! The time from my friend telling me about it to me actually matching healthcare providers with equipment was less than a day.” Provide mental health support Those with proper training can offer mental health support over the phone. Erica Aten, an Oregon-based licensed clinical psychologist, is volunteering her services with the national group Reloveution as part of its pandemic response. “This volunteer program matches mental health providers with emergency personnel, first responders and health professionals nationwide,” she said. “The purpose of this program is to support professionals dealing with stress associated with COVID-19.” Volunteers can give what they are able to, whether that’s a single support session or multiple sessions per week. “Mental health providers are in a unique situation given we are holding others’ anxiety, crises and pain while also experiencing similar emotions and circumstances ourselves,” Aten said. “When it comes to volunteering during a time of crisis, I think people should be mindful of their own mental health and well-being before over-extending themselves to help others.” If you don’t have the training to volunteer with mental health support services, you can still provide wellness checks for friends, family and neighbors just by calling and checking on them. Miscellaneous volunteer efforts People are finding creative ways to help others during the pandemic. In Seattle, Megan Delany’s rugby team is using the time off from their sport to help stuff care bags for Lifelong , which supports people who have HIV. In Kirkland, chef Dave Holthus and his wife, Laura, started a Lunch to the Rescue campaign on GoFundMe. The idea is to deliver delicious, chef-made lunches for employees at Evergreen Hospital. They have far exceeded their fundraising goal. “They are not part of a larger organization,” said Virginia Andreotti, a family friend. “[They are] just a couple good people who wanted to do a nice thing.” Several skills can be of help right now. If you have experience writing grants, many organizations could use your assistance to stay afloat. Love animals? I met one man who walks his neighbor’s dog three times a week while the neighbor works overtime at a hospital. Additional opportunities include donating blood; donating time, money or food to food banks; and creating hygiene kits for people experiencing homelessness in your community. Volunteering is good for morale and helps people feel more connected and optimistic. “Basically tons of people need help with tons of things right now,” Corkill said. “So if you can think of a way to get involved, you should do it.” Images via Pixabay and Adobe Stock

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This aluminum water bottle is a reusable alternative to single-use plastic

February 25, 2020 by  
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Pathwater, based out of northern California, began with a Christmas Eve run to a grocery store, where three friends lamented about the lack of truly sustainable water bottle options. So they rented a space, added two like-minded partners and got down to the business of providing water in something other than plastic . The result is a sleek, aluminum water bottle that keeps you hydrated, even when you are on the go. The team knew there were already alternatives to single-use plastic on the market, such as paper-based products. But even though paper is a more eco-friendly option to petroleum-based plastic, it is still resource-intensive and ends up in the landfill or littering beaches. Related: Coca-Cola to offer Dasani water in aluminum cans and bottles to reduce plastic waste The team brainstormed around the idea of widely popular, refillable metal water bottles. From there, they settled on a sturdy, aluminum bottle with a wide-mouth, twist-off lid that is easy to refill. The bottle is filled with locally sourced water purified through a seven-step reverse-osmosis process.  Pathwater is readily available in the northern California region and is continuing to grow in popularity. It can be found online through Amazon and in a growing number of stores and hotel snack centers — more than 4,000 to date. When you find a bottle of Pathwater, you will also discover it is fairly priced at $2.19 for a 25-ounce bottle that is both reusable and recyclable. It makes it easy to use sustainable options, even if you might be traveling and forgot to pack a reusable vessel. The future could see Pathwater bottles in vending machines and on store shelves instead of plastic bottles. In addition to taking the steps to create a viable alternative to single-use plastic, the team is dedicated to fighting plastic pollution by regularly volunteering for and partnering with beach clean-up organizations. The company has launched the PATHWATER Student Ambassador Program (PSA) to inspire and educate youth. The BAN Single-Use Plastic Bottles at Schools initiative also inspires the next generation to carry the torch in the fight against single-use plastic. + Pathwater Images via Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat

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Impress loved ones with these homemade foods for holiday gifts

December 5, 2019 by  
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Many eco-conscious people face a quandary over the holidays. In a consumer-driven society with too much waste and houses overcrowded with stuff, shouldn’t we axe the gift-giving tradition? Then again, our inner Santa-loving child may feel neglected, unloved or just ripped off by a giftless December. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: the gift of food . Everybody has to eat, and a food gift doesn’t hang around forever, taking up space. To make food gifts more special — and to save lots of money — consider making your own. Here’s a roundup of some ideas for handmade food gifts. Baked goods Fruitcakes are probably the most traditional holiday food gift. This recipe by Gretchen Price features lots of dried fruit chopped up into impressively small bits, and the loaf is strongly spiced with grated ginger, cloves, anise, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. Gretchen kindly suggests subbing apple juice for rum if you happen to operate an alcohol-free kitchen. However, while fruitcakes are traditional, many people find cookies more delicious. If you’re feeling extra creative, get out your cookie cutters and decorate with frosting, sprinkles and candies. Ellie of My Healthy Dessert offers a trendy spin on rolled cookies with her recipe for crispy matcha Christmas cookies . Scones, muffins and fruit breads also make good holiday gifts , but don’t make them too far ahead, because they’re best eaten within a couple of days of baking. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for foodies You could go a little healthier by making a fresh batch of granola for folks on your list. My basic recipe starts with preheating the oven to 450. Put about six cups of old fashioned oats in a baking pan, add a cup of raw seeds and a cup of raw nuts and mix them up. Then, combine about one-half to three-quarters of a cup of vegetable or coconut oil with the same amount of sweetener: brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave, maple syrup, molasses, etc. I might throw in ginger, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa and/or a little cayenne pepper, too. Once that mixture melts, combine it in with the oats and nuts. Stick the pan in the oven for 8 minutes. Take it out, stir and bake for another 8 minutes. If you want it well done, continue cooking but be sure to check it every minute or two after that to prevent burning. Candy If your friends, family, office mates and other gift recipients have a sweet tooth, it’s fun to make candy for them. Peanut brittle is delicious and easy with this recipe from Loving it Vegan. Use up extra candy canes with this peppermint candy cane truffle recipe from Where Do You Get Your Protein. For friends with slightly more adventurous palates, Vegan Gastronomy offers a recipe for chocolate-covered dates stuffed with orange cream and topped with orange zest, sea salt and shredded coconut . Nutty gifts Freshly toasted and spiced nuts are simple to make and more nutritious than cookies. All you need are raw pecans, walnuts, cashews or any other nuts, some vegan butter or coconut oil, sugar and/or spices. For a sweet nut, add brown sugar and cinnamon to your skillet of nuts. For savory nuts, experiment with paprika, chili powder, cumin or turmeric. Trail mix is even easier to assemble. Just choose some nuts, seeds and dried fruits from the bulk section of a grocery store, and pour it all into an attractive, reusable jar. Tamales Native Americans ate a food similar to modern-day tamales as far back as 8,000 B.C.E. Corn was considered the substance of life, and consuming it could be a spiritual experience. The love of tamales has continued through the ages and is now tied to Christmas celebrations in Mexico and the American Southwest. Making tamales isn’t especially hard, but it takes a lot of time. Consider doing what the tamaleras , or tamale makers like to do: throw a tamalada, or tamale making party. You’ll need a tamale steamer, access to Hispanic foods like corn husks and masa and a gathering of loved ones who also want to give the gift of tamales. Check out 18 vegan tamale recipes from Dora’s Table, including red chile jackfruit, jalapeño and cactus, and sweet pineapple tamales. Coffee syrups It seems like every financial advice article highlights how much money you could save by making coffee at home. Help your friends break their high-cost habits by gifting them with homemade coffee syrups. This is an easy and unusual gift. All it takes is water, sugar, extracts, a saucepan and a stove. Check out these recipes from Royal Cup Coffee for flavors like vanilla, peppermint, blackberry and cinnamon brown sugar. Related: 10 recipes you can gift in jars Infused oils Infused oils are another easy-to-make food gift. Luci’s Morsels tells you how to infuse olive oil with lemon, garlic, chili or rosemary in less than an hour. Hot sauce For the friend who just cannot get enough spicy food, homemade chili pepper sauce is a thoughtful gift. From ghost pepper to scotch bonnets, Chili Pepper Madness answers questions about crafting hot sauce at home. You might want to have a dedicated blender or food processor for this, unless you like your smoothies spicy. Spice mixes Custom-blended spice mixes are one of the easiest handmade food gift ideas. Your friends who like to cook quick dishes will thank you when your homemade jerk seasoning blend perks up their tofu , or your barbecue seasoning breathes new life into their kale and chickpeas. Real Simple offers 10 simple spice mix ideas. Chocolate-dipped treats For those on your list who believe chocolate makes everything better, dip some snacks in chocolate and call it a gift. Strawberries, nuts, pretzels — this is easy, messy fun. Melt dairy-free dark chocolate chips for the vegans on your list, dip the snack and let it cool. Use your creative license. Have you ever wondered what ghost pepper potato chips dipped in dark chocolate would taste like? Packaging for your homemade food gifts Think about what you can reuse here. Do you have extra mason jars on hand? Bottles you can wash thoroughly and remove the commercial labels? Excess Tupperware? Scour your nearest thrift shops for secondhand festive cookie tins or pretty tea cups to fill with truffles. If you like making food gifts this year, start a collection of your old jars, bottles and garage sale finds for next year. Images via Shutterstock

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