Green cuisine

I’m looking to move into one of two apartments: one has a gas stove, and the other an electric stove. Which is more eco-friendly?

As a Treehugger, I don’t do stovetops. I eat meals made from raw fruits and vegetables because, as anyone who’s anyone green knows, what’s of the earth is of the greatest worth. Once fruits and vegetables are exposed to stove heat, they lose nutrients. But you’re probably just not ready to purify your lifestyle yet, and that’s OK. I’m not judging you at all. I’ll even try to help you discern between your two lesser-than green options. The gas stovetop relies on a fossil fuel to heat food, while the electric stovetop uses energy from coal-burning power plants. The pros: Choose the lowest possible Btu gas stovetop, or purchase green power to heat your electric stovetop. The electric coils on an electric stovetop are not energy efficient by nature. But you can green the coils by turning off the electric burner several minutes before the food in a pot or pan has finished cooking.

I keep hearing that food packaging is really wasteful. How can I navigate the grocery store in the most eco-friendly manner?

Walk to the store, sporting one or more canvas bags on your shoulder for all passersby to observe. Stuff those bags with smaller mesh produce bags to avoid the store’s plastic produce bags. You’ll be the Kate Moss of the green movement, setting trends for all who pass along your street. Buy as much as you can in bulk—pasta noodles, rice, dried beans, flour, sugar, spices, etc.—at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and store it in big glass jars at home. Buying bulk prevents waste (if you just need a tablespoon of nutmeg, you don’t have to waste a jar’s worth), and it saves you money if you purchase more than the pre-packaged version would contain. Don’t buy anything packaged in Styrofoam. (Yep, believe it or not, your cup o’ noodles isn’t green). Avoid things that are wrapped twice (for example, a cardboard box coated in plastic wrap). And look for packaging that is easily recyclable. Remember that the city can’t recycle items that have food stuck to them—be sure to rinse out any jars and cans before tossing them into your recycling bin.