Nature is astonishing. I'm never more amazed or bemused by it than Spring. Through the depths of winter, the trees, the grass, the flowers and the fauna were asleep. Adrift in the vast expanses of snow, sleet, hail and encapsulated with ice crystals, there was life waiting, watching and resting.
The rains have washed away the grayed white vestiges of winter, and green is starting to appear. Sprouts are popping from hardened ground softened by the deluges that have fallen from the clouds. Nutrients flow from the soils to the roots and seeds of the plants giving them the boosts to burst from the earth and reach for the coming rays of sun.
Chirrups of birds declare their findings of deadened leaves, twigs and yellowed grasses to build new nests for the coming eggs. Ducks are quacking and finding mates; protecting each other for the promise of new ducklings. Rabbits hop joyously across the grasses twitching their ears to the wind and nibbling the early greenery. Also, preparing for the coming young.
This world is beautiful if you take the time to look at it and really see it.
Sustainability Spotlight: I really see it, and I really see the way that humans have impacted this world. Many times I see the worst parts of us in the Spring. When the winter is washed away, all manner of human sin is uncovered. Waste, litter, plastics, styrofoam, glass bottles, bags, cigarette cartons, newspapers, fast food bags (with the wastes of food still in it), and clothes, books or toys lost, broken or thrown from cars or strollers.
In the Spring, all of our laziness, our gluttony, our wastefulness, and wanton disregard for nature is unveiled for all to see. It is on display in the waters, on the streets, farmers fields next to our roadways, and next to our sidewalks. The waste of this planet is everywhere; can you see it?
The wind and rain carry your litter and trash into the waterways which trace across the planet in a connected cycle. So much so, that your trash may even travel the world on the ocean currents. Combined, trash in our waterways and oceans is known as "aquatic trash" and I can't explain it any better than this graphic from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so I'm just going to leave this here for your digestion:
How trash enters creeks and waterways. Image courtesy of The Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program
See that creek? It looks exactly like the pond in my backyard every Spring and the routes that the litter / trash take to get there are all a part of the human disregard for nature. Those birds I told you about? They stand in the detritus built upon heavy objects like bottles and cans that are in the pond sedimentary bed. The ducks? They navigate the waters in and around the plastics and cardboard floating on the surface. And those rabbits? They drink amongst the trash which has half submerged and rooted themselves against the grassy banks.
Even more concerning is the waste I can no longer "see." "Rather than biodegrading, plastic waste often breaks down into tiny pieces known as microplastics (less than 5 mm in size), which are nearly impossible to clean up once they are in the environment" (www.epa.gov). Plastics contain or may contain toxic chemicals which can present toxological risks for organisms that ingest them (see above for examples of just the small biome of my pond). "When aquatic organisms eat these plastic particles, microplastics – and the chemicals they carry – can make their way up the food chain. In fact, researchers have found microplastics in a variety of the fish and shellfish that people consume." (www.epa.gov)
There are many things we can do to change what I see and the world experiences from human interactions and wastes. All of them (and there are many) outlined here: https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/what-you-can-do-about-trash-pollution.
Here's the thing, knowledge is power, but action is strength. Let's strengthen our stewardship of the planet and be better for the flora and fauna. Reducing consumption of non-reusable materials and reducing the amount of "stuff" we have and use is the way to prevent wastes first and foremost.
Start today by not eating out - cook at home, and cook this meal using leftovers and reducing both food and food packaging wastes. Every small step or even small decision can make every season better for this planet. Maybe even change what I see for next year's Spring!
3 cups brussels sprouts (sliced and trimmed)
2 firm tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 small red onion (sliced in large pieces)
Korean Bibimbap Sauce:
1/2 tbsp avocado oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp gochujang sauce (aka - spicy miso sauce)
1 cup leftover cooked & cooled quinoa
4 garlic cloves (grated)
(1) 1 x 1 piece of fresh ginger (peeled and grated)
1 tbsp liquid aminos (I used Bragg's)
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/3 cup frozen peas (not thawed)
salt (to taste)
1 large handful cilantro (chopped)
Add brussels spouts, tomatoes and onion to a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients in Korean Bibimbap Sauce above till combined. Add sauce to veggies and toss to coat evenly.
On a grill heated to 500 degrees F, place veggies in a grill basket and close the lid. Grill for ~7-10 minutes or until veggies have become vibrant in shade and the brussels take on some slight char.
While your veggies are grilling, heat the 1 tbsp of avocado oil in a large wok. Add the leftover quinoa and saute infrequently for ~5 minutes.
Add the grated garlic and ginger with the aminos and sesame oil. Saute another 2-3 minutes then add your frozen peas and a pinch of salt. Let your peas cook another 1-2 minutes while you grab your veggies off the grill (I recommend heat proof gloves as it's the easiest and best way to transport from grill to your wok safely).
Toss the grilled veggies in with your quinoa and the handful of cilantro. Stir a few times and then serve immediately.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie