How to properly freeze fresh produce

August 4, 2020 by  
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If you’ve ever wished you could have a taste of your summer garden in the dead of winter, bought a little too much at the farmers market because it was all so beautiful or took advantage of that amazing bargain at the grocery store and ended up with more fruit than you can eat, you need to know how to properly freeze fresh produce so you can enjoy it later. Plus, preserving these items is a great way to reduce food waste . Many fruits and veggies can be frozen and stored so they retain their crisp, fresh taste for many months. That means you can keep on enjoying all your garden favorites all through the year. Before you freeze Before you freeze any produce, thoroughly wash it and examine it for any spoiled areas. You should only freeze ripe, unspoiled, clean produce . If you have large pieces of produce, such as whole ears of corn, you can chop them up into more manageable pieces before you begin the freezing process. Remember, everything you want to freeze has to fit inside storage containers that can fit inside your freezer. Related: 8 tips to keep your summer fruits and vegetables fresher for longer For most produce, you’ll also want to remove extras like husks and stems . Peppers need to have the seeds removed before you freeze them. Once everything is cleaned and the extras are removed, you can begin the process of properly freezing produce. Prepare your veggies To lock in the fresh flavor and crispness of vegetables , you have to pre-treat them before they’re ready to be frozen. First, blanch your veggies. That means you need to briefly dip them in boiling water and then immediately place them in ice water. This preserves the fresh taste and actually helps them freeze more effectively. The vegetables must be completely dry before you freeze them. Spread the blanched, dried vegetables out evenly on a sheet pan, and allow it all to freeze completely like this before you place vegetables in a storage container. Otherwise, everything will end up frozen together. Fill a storage container completely, packing it as tightly as you can. Air is the enemy of all frozen food, so do your best not to leave any extra space. Use freezer bags (check out reusable silicone options) or airtight containers. If the container is airtight, your vegetables will stay edible and maintain their flavor for about 18 months. Write the freeze date on your storage container or freezer bag so you know when you placed your vegetables in the freezer. Freezing fruits It can be a little tricky to freeze fruits, which naturally turn brown over time. To prevent your frozen fruits from browning, steam them first for about two minutes. You can also sprinkle a little ascorbic acid and water over fruits prior to freezing. All fruits should be spread out on a baking sheet and frozen before being placed in storage containers. Berries can be frozen whole in most cases. Larger fruits, such as peaches, should be cut into slices before they’re frozen. You should also remove unnecessary parts of the fruits, such as the stems on strawberries and the pits in cherries. Choose wisely No matter how careful your process is, there are simply some fruits and vegetables that freeze better than others. Corn and peas both freeze beautifully and last for a long time when they’re frozen properly. Onions and peppers also freeze incredibly well, whether they’re chopped or whole. But there is some produce that simply doesn’t freeze well. No matter how careful you are, these veggies will end up mushy and lose their flavor. Celery, endive, lettuce , cabbage, watercress, cucumbers and radishes naturally have a very high water content already. When these items are frozen and dethawed, you’ll end up with a slushy mess. Citrus fruits of all kinds also don’t freeze well. They can be frozen, but they only remain edible for about three months. Other produce can be frozen and eaten for up to 18 months, so this is a huge difference. Still, this can buy you a bit more time to use up these fruits instead of letting them go to waste. Bananas are the easiest of all fruits to freeze and store, because you can simply throw them as they are in the freezer. The peels will turn brown. But inside that frozen peel, the banana will stay fresh and tasty. Freezing fresh produce Once you know how to freeze fresh produce to preserve the taste for months into the future, you can get as much as you want from the farmers market, expand your summer garden and take advantage of that amazing berry sale at the grocery store whenever you want. Take the time to freeze your produce properly, and you’ll get to enjoy the taste of freshness time and time again, all while minimizing food waste. Images via Naturfreund_pics , LeoNeoBoy and Sosinda

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Reusable packaging in the time of COVID-19

May 18, 2020 by  
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Reusable packaging in the time of COVID-19 Tom Szaky Mon, 05/18/2020 – 01:00 The novel coronavirus had cases on every continent except Antarctica when it was declared a global pandemic March 11. The crisis was brewing long before, and the United States federal emergency and stay-at-home orders would come after, but it was in that official moment of alarm that consumer behavior, and business’s response to it, changed across the country. Almost immediately, reusables and durable items took a spotlight as potentially undesirable . The socially sanctioned practice of bring-your-own shopping bags and coffee mugs came to a halt and was enforced at retail locations , as did the use of glass and durable tableware in bars and restaurants before dine-in service stopped. Even in states that previously had instituted bans on single-use items such as plastic bags ( temporarily lifted  with new bans on their reusable counterparts ), there has been a swap to disposables, thought to be more sanitary than durable products and packaging intended to be used many times, sometimes by many people. In an evolving age of contagion, we are still only beginning to understand the perception of reusables is that they are vehicles for a virus. But reuse in and of itself isn’t the problem here; it’s the way it’s done. Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Take the dentist. Year-round, people young and old go for routine check-ups and surgeries administered by tools and equipment that come in contact with pathogens and people potentially infected with serious diseases. It’s a practice that often draws blood, and yet, the items are used over and over again, on many folks, and everyone’s OK with it. The reason for this is trust. Despite that most of us will never see it in action, we trust the tools are being sterilized properly. If we didn’t have faith in this, we’d choose another provider or stop going to the dentist. Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Trusting others to be clean and safe on your behalf is a liability that can result in someone getting sued, or sick, which is why many consumers are opting for goods in single-use packaging and some eateries frown upon patrons taking leftovers home in their own containers in “normal times.” Disposable packages are painted as sterile, while durables are tainted with suspicion. To be clear, unless explicitly labeled “sterile,” single-use is no more safe, as both are potentially exposed to different elements in packing, pallet and transport. They are touched by many people, and the independent organizations setting the standards and monitoring respective microbial limits vary. But trust is a risk, and businesses championing reuse that are able to meet people where they are, COVID-19 notwithstanding, stand to benefit. The sort of systems-thinking that considers the consumer and their values now and beyond this time of uncertainty creates value through a sense of community and meaningful connection that’s both scalable and adaptable. At the start of this pandemic, our new Loop platform was at the center of some of this discourse, the returnable, refillable packaging model a subject of wonder. In a world where consumers are anxious and making purchases with safety, ease and comfort top of mind, could a zero waste, circular shopping platform of returnable glass, metal and plastic containers survive? Now, we can report that our sales for April nearly doubled what we did in March, half of which was spent out of an official emergency. Our bestsellers were refillable Clorox wipes (the “disposable” sheets recyclable through TerraCycle) and Häagen-Dazs ice cream in insulated metal tubs. Media Authorship TerraCycle Close Authorship All of the essential things people are buying (and bought in frenzy at the start: cleaning supplies; personal care; soap; pasta) are on Loop, and we’ve found consumers are comfortable with the reuse aspect, as the service is conveniently delivered by our logistics provider UPS, offers items in beautiful packages and was contactless prior to the pandemic. Consumers can toss their empties in the Loop Tote with the same ease as throwing an item in the trash, and don’t need to do any cleaning themselves. Unlike the durable coffee cup systems and reusable bags hibernating now, health and safety protocols and industrial cleaning processes are in place in our reuse system. Interestingly, as consumers look for a connection to what they buy and a meaningful way to shop, we are seeing competitors in the coming of COVID-19: the actual, modern-day milkman . Home delivery is important to consumers, as is shopping positively in a retro-style model, so if not for the social impacts, the no-contact and returnable packaging system is appealing. From its initial launch to Paris, France and in 10 states in the Northeastern United States, Loop recently announced its expansion to all 48 contiguous states and is slated to officially go live nationwide this summer, which means more people soon will be able to order. The next phase of the shopping platform, currently all digital commerce, will be to integrate in retail locations, where consumers can return empty containers and shop for refills in-store. We can’t project how or when retail will return to “normal,” or what a new normal will look like. But by having met people where they are at home and online and establishing trust in a difficult situation, we anticipate consumers will continue to engage with Loop in a post-social distancing world. Brands and retailers working towards plans for circularity can gain tangible returns even (or especially) now by reaching people through continued investment in their present and future. Putting this on the backburner in a health crisis is short-sighted. With so much to fear today, the opportunity to trust is one that consumers desire, and businesses are in a position to give. Pull Quote Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Topics Circular Economy Design & Packaging Circular Packaging Reuse Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock 5PH Close Authorship

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The fashion industry is unsustainable — here’s how journalism is inspiring activism to improve it

May 15, 2020 by  
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The fashion industry is unsustainable — here’s how journalism is inspiring activism to improve it Kirstie Dabbs Fri, 05/15/2020 – 01:43 The fast fashion industry has long been critiqued for unsustainable practices and unethical working conditions. From global cotton supply chains to pollution from textile factories, the need to improve the industry in favor of both people and the planet is pressing.  Bard MBA student Kirstie Dabbs spoke recently with author Elizabeth Segran about their shared passion for building a sustainability-centered future for the fashion industry. They discussed the unchecked growth of the fashion industry’s business model, possibilities for regulations, and how to inspire systematic change in global fast fashion.  Segran writes about design, with a particular focus on the fashion industry as a senior staff writer at Fast Company Magazine . She also recently authored a new book, ” The Rocket Years: How Your Twenties Launch the Rest of Your Life .” In it, she discusses how all kinds of decisions that we make in our 20s — from career to love to family — have the greatest impact on how our lives play out. There are 8 billion humans on this planet, but a lot of the data suggests that we’re making about 100 billion articles of clothing for them. Kirstie Dabbs: What inspired you to begin writing about the fashion industry and climate change? Elizabeth Segran: In a lot of ways, the work I did for “The Rocket Years” is extremely relevant to the conversation about the fashion industry and climate change. The decisions young people make, the activism they pursue and the ways they think about building a career can all center around trying to solve some of these problems and having a real impact.   Collectively, young people need to be involved in being part of the solution here. I have a lot of hope that we can change this industry, which is causing so much disruption to the planet. Dabbs: As you dug into the fashion industry’s environmental footprint, what were some discoveries that jumped out at you? Segran: I was really surprised about exactly how much we’re overconsuming in the world of fashion. There are 8 billion humans on this planet, but a lot of the data suggests that we’re making about 100 billion articles of clothing for them. Plus, if you think about how those clothes are spread out around the world, people in many places don’t own that many clothes. So the vast majority of the clothes being manufactured are going to countries like the United States. Then, when you think about how many resources go into making every single garment, including the $5 shirt from H&M, it adds up. There’s an enormous cost in natural resources like cotton and wool, and there’s a massive impact on the climate because a lot of carbon is involved in manufacturing nylon and polyester.  There’s just so much waste in this industry. Clothes are made at such low cost that we go into a store or we go online, and we fill our carts with clothes that look fashionable right now but that we essentially treat as disposable. In a few months, maybe a few years, all of those clothes will end up in the trash. Dabbs: Can you speak to the discrepancy between the population growth rate and that of the fashion industry? Segran: The first part of the problem is that fast fashion has created a new way of interacting with clothes that make them pretty much disposable. The second part of the problem is that companies are measured by how quickly they can grow — investors want to see constant growth. This means that, for a fashion brand to continue growing, it either needs to sell clothes to more customers or needs to sell that same customer more clothes.  The fashion industry is growing at a rate of about 3 to 4 percent a year , but the human population is only growing at a rate of about 1 percent . We can see why we’ve gotten to the point of such massive overconsumption. Dabbs: How do you hope to inspire systemic change through your work? Segran: Sustainability reporters like myself have been talking about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and over many years there’ve also been reporters consistently writing about human rights abuses in the fashion industry. It’s so clear now that those two things are connected. A lot of environmental destruction happens when we’re using inexpensive materials, and on the other side of that, we’re also using inexpensive labor to keep costs low.  I’ve written a lot about how farmers, particularly in India and Bangladesh, who are responsible for so much of global cotton production, are exposing themselves to toxic chemicals. A lot of the time, those chemicals end up in the ground water and poison entire villages. That’s one of the human costs we see along the chain in order to get these inexpensive materials.   Even if you ask a brand to regulate its environmental impact throughout its supply chain, that brand may just not have access to information about what’s happening lower down in the supply chain. There’s also the factory part to consider. We know that conditions in factories in many parts of the world are terrible, but because people are so desperate in those countries for work, they’re willing to work under awful conditions for very low wages. All of that for a $5 shirt we aren’t going to wear many times.   I’m asking consumers who read my stories to think about how they participate in this system. A lot of people struggle to understand exactly how the supply chain works, so I’m educating them about where abuses are happening and how they can call out companies for their bad practices.  It’s also my job to find out about companies that are doing things slightly better so that consumers can use what I call wallet activism to have an impact on the market. Investors and companies see what the trends are in terms of consumer spending and may adjust their behavior to respond. Dabbs: Is there a case for regulating the global fashion industry? Segran: This is a really important topic and one that I don’t think has been wrestled with enough. Part of the reason that the fashion industry is still largely unregulated is that the supply chain is really spread out. There are brands that don’t even know what the conditions are in factories because they work with middlemen who help them source products. Even if you ask a brand to regulate its environmental impact throughout its supply chain, that brand may just not have access to information about what’s happening lower down in the supply chain. So this is actually a very complex issue. Plus, even today we don’t have very good ways to measure environmental impact. We know that the industry is creating a lot of waste, but we’re not exactly sure how much. On the other hand, we’re beginning to use more circular models, where you might buy an article of clothing and after wearing it for a couple of years, send it back to be recycled and turned into new garments. Developing interesting models through innovation is a great way to move the industry forward. This Q&A is an edited excerpt from the Bard MBA’s May 1 The Impact Report podcast. The Impact Report brings together students and faculty in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program with leaders in business, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Pull Quote There are 8 billion humans on this planet, but a lot of the data suggests that we’re making about 100 billion articles of clothing for them. Even if you ask a brand to regulate its environmental impact throughout its supply chain, that brand may just not have access to information about what’s happening lower down in the supply chain. Contributors Katie Ellman Topics Retail Supply Chain Circular Economy Fashion Supply Chain Waste Collective Insight The Sustainable MBA Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Milos Vucicevic Close Authorship

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Who Pays to Dispose of Food Packaging? We Do

April 25, 2018 by  
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When you buy a packaged meal at the grocery store, … The post Who Pays to Dispose of Food Packaging? We Do appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Who Pays to Dispose of Food Packaging? We Do

Amazon opens new grocery store sans checkout lines

January 23, 2018 by  
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You’ll never wait in checkout lines at Amazon’s new grocery store, Amazon Go . Shoppers enter the store via an app , grab the food they need, and then simply walk out. The first Amazon Go just opened for business in Seattle . Amazon is opening up their first Amazon Go, an 1,800-square-foot physical grocery store. People scan an app on their smartphones to enter, pick up whatever food they want to buy, and leave without the hassle of waiting in line. Once through the doors, users don’t need the app to shop – Amazon said in a video they drew on “ computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion, much like you’d find in self-driving cars” to make the concept a reality. The Next Web said cameras on store shelves track what customers grab. Related: You can now buy tiny shipping container homes on Amazon What can you purchase inside an Amazon Go? Similar to a regular old grocery store of the past, customers can pick up staples like milk and bread, alcohol, and ready-to-eat snacks, breakfast, lunch, or dinners to start. The company will also offer Amazon Meal Kits, which include ingredients to cook a meal for two people in around half an hour. #AmazonGo opens on Monday, January 22 in Seattle. Get the app to enter the store. See you soon! https://t.co/jt7quQ4rke pic.twitter.com/shIyrifZyk — Amazon.com (@amazon) January 21, 2018 The New York Times said there are no baskets or shopping carts – customers place the items they want in a bag they walk out with. And while there aren’t cashiers, an Amazon Go store still requires staff – to stock shelves, help shoppers with any technical issues, help them find items, and check identification in the beer and wine section. Amazon unveiled plans for Amazon Go back in late 2016 – but had to delay the launch because of some technical difficulties, according to The Next Web. But it appears they’re ready to go with this first location, which is at 2131 7th Avenue, and is open Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 9 PM. The app works for Android or iOS. Amazon has not yet said whether they’ll open more Amazon Go stores, or utilize the technology in other ways — like selling it to other retailers. + Amazon Go Via The Next Web and The New York Times Images via Amazon Twitter and Amazon

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Whole Foods megafail orange packaging breaks the internet

March 7, 2016 by  
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Whole Foods , purported purveyor of products that support healthy people and a healthy planet, nearly broke the internet over the weekend as images of shocking product packaging went viral . The natural grocer was selling pre-peeled oranges in clear plastic tubs, essentially replacing nature’s own biodegradable packaging with an unnecessary and wasteful product. The company has since issued an apology and pulled the plastic-encased oranges from their shelves, but many other ridiculous packaging decisions are still being made in this and many other grocery store chains. Read the rest of Whole Foods megafail orange packaging breaks the internet

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How to: Save money by growing your own fruits and vegetables

September 21, 2015 by  
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Why not save some green (cash) by growing green? ClimaDoor put together a fun infographic to show you tips and tricks on growing a home garden . The graphic spotlights favorite foods, from potatoes and peas to beetroot and cucumber, and even offers expected ROI stats as further motivation to save on your grocery bill. Read the rest of How to: Save money by growing your own fruits and vegetables

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Bioclimatic green-roofed home boasts a low-energy footprint in Spain

September 21, 2015 by  
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Undercover: In Search Of Organic Food

July 16, 2015 by  
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Do you know what you’re buying at the grocery store? You may THINK you’re buying the best produce for yourself and your family, but we discovered that it may not be as cut and dry as we’d like to assume. The terms “locally grown”, “fresh produce”,…

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5 Steps to Successful Seed Saving

June 11, 2013 by  
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Home gardeners understand that growing your own fruits and vegetables comes with variety of benefits including buying less from the grocery store, knowing exactly where your food came from and generally being a little more self-sufficient. A great…

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