Save Energy! Energy-Efficiency Tips for the Kitchen

Learn how to save energy in the kitchen.

| September/October 2003

  • Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison

The kitchen is the heart of the home. The social, nourishment, energy, waste, and vitality flows converge here. Mother Earth’s bounty is transformed into an archetypal experience of gastronomic pleasure, physical nourishment, and conviviality.

It’s also where the most energy is consumed, the most airborne toxins are released, and the most noise is produced. Furthermore, the choices we make here affect everything from our health to global warming. Nowhere does “think globally, act locally” apply more.

By all rights, the kitchen should be a temple of life. But instead, many kitchens demonstrate how far we’ve gone in the direction of too busy. We’re so good at “saving labor” that we often deny ourselves the very function of the kitchen: nourishment. Tossing manufactured food from the freezer to the microwave doesn’t count. If we don’t have time to nourish ourselves and our loved ones, what are we doing that’s more valuable?

The heart of the matter

The main act in the ecological kitchen isn’t energy efficient appliances or recycled-content countertops. Kitchens are about food. And food is about many things we tend to forget in this era of industrialized agriculture: plants, soil, rain, pollinators, farmers, weather, seasons. Unfortunately, for most people it’s also about genetic engineering, monocrops, pesticides, soil destruction, water table depletion, nutrient loss, and combustion of vast quantities of fossil fuels to chill and ship the stuff around the globe.

So the most important, far-reaching thing we can do in our kitchens is pay attention to the source of our food. When we eat locally and organically grown food, we support family farms, reduce the pesticide load, decrease fuel use (and thereby global warming), minimize packaging waste, and encourage ourselves to eat food in season—which is both tastier and healthier.

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