Friday, May 22, 2009

Dining with Nature

What could be better than good friends, fresh food, the warm sun, and a cool breeze? Watching wildlife while enjoying a backyard barbeque or picnic in the park! Capering critters form an ever-changing panorama, and birdsong provides the perfect soundtrack. Of course, I want to make sure that my alfresco dining is as friendly as possible for the environment, so I’m trying to follow some eco-conscious tips:

Buy local, organic food. Besides tasting so much yummier, local and organic foods reduce your carbon footprint since they don’t have to travel as far and their production requires fewer chemicals.

Use reusable dish- and drinkware. The random bits of cutlery at the back of your drawer are perfect to use for summer meals with friends. So are the free mugs you’ve collected in the cupboard and the mismatched plates accumulated from various sets over the years. Why pay for paper and plastic when these are readily available? If you need to buy something new, try to choose sustainable materials like bamboo.

Dispose of waste properly. Despite our best efforts, we will usually have some waste from an outdoor meal. Ensure that garbage and recyclables are sorted and put in the available bins. If containers aren’t available, pack these things up with you and dispose of them when you get home.

One last note: because I care about the health of my wild neighbours, I won’t be feeding them while I’m dining outdoors myself. In addition to disrupting their natural habits, feeding wild animals may cause them to fall ill and can habituate them to human contact.

I hope you enjoy experiencing the outdoors with a picnic or barbeque of your own this summer! Why not leave a comment and let us know how you’re planning to dine with nature?


Aaron Pettigrew said...

Hi Katherine, these are some great tips!

I was recently doing a little bit of research on the ecological & health impacts of various types of barbecues, and thought I'd share a bit. If you have a choice for your picnic this year, propane seems to be the way to go. Charcoal is usually pretty dirty & treated with a lot of chemicals, though you can find untreated varieties if you look around. (Or if you're really hardcore, there are also some really cool solar cookers sold here in Canada: - neat!)

BTW, you might be interested in the contest we're running right now over at The Big Wild. We're looking for the best photos of people dining in the great outdoors, and we're giving away a cool stove system from MEC. Check it out!

Katherine Lim said...

Thanks for adding this info about barbecues, Aaron. I usually leave the cooking to someone else and just look forward to the eating! (Cleanup is also my responsibility.) Solar-powered cooking looks like it would be neat to try.