Anyone who’s seen Emeril Lagasse praise the wonders of bacon on his popular Food Network shows Essence of Emeril and Emeril Live! knows the kitchen superstar is no vegetarian. But that doesn’t mean Lagasse turns his nose up at turnips and other "good-for-you" foods. Far from it. On his new show, Emeril Green (on Planet Green Network), Lagasse practically rhapsodizes over beans, Swiss chard, quinoa, and other healthy and eco-friendly foods, which he's encouraging American families to add to their diets.
In many ways Lagasse has been cooking green for decades. To supply his restaurants, he ran his own farm and worked with local farmers. "For 25 years we’ve been raising hogs organically, even when people really didn’t know what organic was," he says.
Lagasse likes knowing that eating healthy and fresh can also be easier on the environment. Large industrial farms often use harmful chemicals and grow produce varieties based on their looks and durability rather than taste or nutritional content. Shipping this produce from farms that are sometimes thousands of miles away burns fuel and causes pollution.
To learn more about the foods raised closer to home, Lagasse suggests family visits to nearby farmers’ markets. "That’s where I take my kids on Saturday morning," he says, adding that it’s a great way for children to learn about different types of food and how they’re produced. "Green" sections in many grocery stores are also great places to shop with kids.
Why Buy Organic?
Though organic groceries are often pricier, they can be safer for your family. Scientists at a nonprofit organization called the Environmental Working Group recently discovered that certain produce, such as apples, celery, and grapes, were consistently high in pesticide residue and should be bought organic if possible. (Otherwise, be sure to wash produce thoroughly before eating.)
For Lagasse, chicken is also tops on his organic list. He looks for chicken that is "fresh, with no antibiotics, preservatives, or hormones," he says. "I would much rather pay 40 or 50 cents more per pound, knowing what I’m giving my family."
The key to greening the kitchen, says Lagasse, is taking the time to learn and to educate your family about foods that are healthy for you and the environment. Through Emeril Green, he hopes to share new ideas and foods with his viewers a little at a time — like the tasty recipe (on page 52) for spaghetti squash, in season this time of year.
"I’m trying to get people to eat more than just broccoli," says Lagasse. "Things like celery root and rutabaga are exciting when they’re fresh, the quality is great, and it’s simply prepared."
Roasted Spaghetti Squash With Parmesan Curls
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Drizzle cut sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place squash cut-sides down on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
- Remove squash from oven and let stand until just cool enough to handle. Shred the inside of the squash with a fork into a bowl. It will resemble spaghetti. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and top with curls of Parmesan cheese. Serve warm. Makes four side servings.
Recipe from the show Emeril Green, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 2008.
Join the Bamboo Revolution
At greenfeet.com, you can find baby and toddler utensils made of organically grown, dye- and bleach-free, renewable bamboo. Also look for disposable bamboo plates that biodegrade after only four to six months in a compost pile. Greenfeet, utensils: $4–$10; plates, package of eight: $6–$11.
Clean It Green
Natural dishwashing and kitchen cleaning products like those made by Ecover and Seventh Generation are available in natural food stores and many supermarkets nationwide. These products are all-natural, biodegradable, and don’t include unnecessary chemicals like artificial fragrances. That makes them healthier for your family and for the planet.
Adults and kids can safely eat the following types of fish four times per month or more, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Contaminant levels are low, and the fish are raised or caught in ways that do not harm the environment:
- Farmed Arctic char
- Wild Alaskan salmon
- Farmed rainbow trout
- Atlantic mackerel
- Pacific sardines
- Farmed mussels