Sustainability is on everyone’s lips & and will certainly soon be on yours too as I share the top 7 aspects of sustainable baking with you!
Of course, it’s easier to write an article about a single aspect of sustainability such as replacing ingredients with plant-based or shopping zero waste. However, in this last article in my 3-part series about baking, I wanted to focus on the sustainability aspect.
Often when we focus on one area of sustainability, we forget or are not aware of the other. Example: when I had a look at vegan recipes using avocado and high amounts of almonds, I wondered: Is it really sustainable to transport the ingredients this far? And can I buy them all in organic quality to lower their high environmental impact?
Because of this, I collected a comprehensive list of aspects to consider when baking sustainably and used my general guidelines for sustainable living as an orientation. The sequence is not important as all of the criteria can positively influence the environmental footprint of your baked goods. Scientists, however, see plant-based ingredients as one of the greatest levers to combat climate change, excessive resource use and world hunger. These are the aspects to consider:
- Zero waste & Zero food waste
- Certified organic cultivation
- Energy saving
I have written a separate article about this. When you rely on plant-based ingredients, you can easily reduce your consumption of animal products whilst surprising friends & family with super delicious cakes!
2. Zero waste & Zero Food waste
1/3 of all food in the world is wasted – but let’s agree – it’s much more delicious to eat it instead!
My favourite tip (especially when I was a child): Always lick out the dough bowl well! When you only use plant-based ingredients or make raw cakes, it’s not even unhealthy for your children.
In order to avoid food waste outside my own household, I also like to go dumpster diving in my home in Austria. This way I rescue food from the garbage that supermarkets would have simply thrown away. All year round I actually get a lot of good and fresh fruits that I use for baking and cooking, such as bananas, apples, pears, peaches, … The saved fruits and vegetables often inspire my recipes. Check out SG Food Rescue and Ugly Fruit here in Singapore – and also read these tips from TheGaiaHood on how to avoid food waste.
3.Certified organic cultivation
When I go shopping, I make sure that I only buy organically grown food. For me, consuming organic agriculture free of pesticides and other toxins is imperative in order to secure the future for us and our future generations. I generally look for a state-approved organic label or buy organic goods in the refill store.
In Thailand and Singapore, it was very hard for me to find organic fruits and vegetables in markets or in small stores. In organic stores, fresh goods like fruits are not just very expensive, but often packed in single-use packaging so this is not an option for me. You could try out special farmers markets for organic produce, order a vegetable crate. Or join one of SG food rescues missions so you save food from waste and don’t spend money on conventional produce (LINK). There are all also som package free options on this list for green online shopping in Singapore and read Claire Chabries article on how to get truly organic fruit and veg in Singapore too!
4. Use energy consciously
No, I don’t mean baking at night to save electricity, but I collected my favourite ideas for saving electric energy while baking:
– I mix or knead most doughs by hand and do not use a mixer. Plantbased doughs usually require less stirring than those with butter & co so this is an easy one!
– Preheating is unnecessary for most types of pastry. Just put your cakes and cookies directly into the oven.
– I use the residual heat and like to switch off the oven ten minutes earlier when baking for an hour. Just experiment with the time – I’m the kind of person who prefers to eat everything a little too raw and so, I often shorten baking times in recipes anyway!
– Try to open the oven door as little as possible during baking. Heat loss requires the oven to use more energy!
– If you have enough recipe ideas and hungry eaters, bake more than one dish once you heat your oven!
Have a look at the seasonal calendar for your region. While rhubarb can be harvested in Austria in the summer months, mangosteen is ripe in Thailand in April. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are fresher, have more vitamins and simply taste better!
Regional baking is not always easy for me: Cocoa powder, one of my favourite ingredients, only grows in Africa or South America. Buying more regional products is also a part of sustainability because it helps to shorten transport distances.
– Refer to aspect 5 and be inspired by what’s on offer at the farmers’ market or in your fruit store! Ask for the country/region of origin: Some stalls offer goods from all over the world. If you live in a border region, strawberries from a neighbouring state can sometimes be more regional than those from another region in your own state.
– Decide on nut varieties grown in your region. Cashew nuts, for example, grow in South East Asia and thus I prefer to buy them while living in Thailand and Singapore. At home in Austria, I choose walnuts and hazelnuts from my region as well as almonds from Italy and Spain.
– In my home country, animal products like cow’s milk, yoghurt, … are often praised as regional! However, plant products are generally the more sustainable choice – most animal products all around the world come from factory farming and consume large amounts of land, water and natural habitats such as rainforests that are destroyed for growing animal feed.
For me, it is important to buy ingredients sourced in developing countries such as cocoa, coffee… with a Fairtrade label. This way, small farmers also benefit from our purchase and get better future prospects for themselves and their children. Some organic foods companies have their own Fairtrade programmes. Otherwise, the blue and green Fairtrade seal is one of the most common seals in Europe. Whilst living in Asia however, I could never spot it so far!
Attention: Fairtrade allows for quantity compensation – in other words, the product you buy does not contain 100% Fairtrade ingredients even though you pay for it. If possible, I, therefore, shop from smaller companies that know their value chain and are in close contact with their farmers to ensure their well-being.
Hope this was useful for you! Enjoy your conscious baking!