Every Planet Greenie knows the power of delicious home cooked meals that utilize planet positive ingredients. But whether the ingredients are meat-free, vegan, organic, local or seasonal, it can often become a challenge to parents trying to please their tiny-tot's palettes, not to mention quickly or consistently with today's hectic schedules.
Enter author and expert meal planner Aviva Goldfarb. The eco-conscious mom and cook launched a cookbook called The Six O'Clock Scramble in 2003 as a system to help busy families put easy, healthy, delicious and earth-friendly meals on the table each and every night by giving them a weekly seasonal menu and a grocery list online. The guide to green eating was such a hit that this month, she's ready to release her follow-up SOS! The Six O'Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families. It's available for sale on April 13 but can be pre-ordered in advance.
Learn more from Aviva below then click over to her interactive website, The Scramble, for book reviews, snack ideas, sample menus and more!
Planet Green: How did you get into this line of work?
Aviva Goldfarb: After my first child was born in 1998, I struggled to put a nutritious dinner on the table amidst the chaos of family life. As I started experimenting and devising solutions in my own kitchen, I realized I could help other parents with their family dinner challenges.
PG: What was your "a-ha" moment?
AG: One night when I was combing the pantry and refrigerator looking for the tortillas I was sure I had bought in order to make sweet potato quesadillas. I knew this frenetic search for ingredients was a common occurrence across America at 6pm. It was then I realized that I was doing it backwards! Each week I would go shopping and just buy food with a loose plan, then each night I would create dinners with what I had in the fridge and the pantry. Yet this was stressful! I thought back to the calm kitchen of my childhood and I realized that my mom had it figured out decades ago! Each week, she sat at the table with her recipe box, and she decided what meals she would make that week. She would cleverly make a grocery list before going to the store. Just so simple, as most brilliant ideas are.
PG: Who is your green hero?
AG: There are many pioneers and great teachers in the green movement that I admire but the one that comes to mind who most recently has had a big impact on me is Barbara Kingsolver. I read her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a couple of years ago and was so moved by her commitment to eat only locally grown food for a year.
PG: What is your ultimate green goal?
AG: I would love to see people really thinking about the impact that their daily food decisions make. For example, most Americans waste somewhere between 15 - 40 percent of their food, depending on which study you cite. If we shop with a plan of how we intend to use that food, that percentage drops dramatically. If we eat more seasonally we can reduce carbon emissions and support local farms, and if we buy locally grown and organic food, reduce our consumption of meat, and start composting, we can dramatically affect the environment and potentially reverse climate change.
PG: What is your motivation?
AV: I've always loved helping people. It's just part of my nature that I have learned to embrace. I want to join forces with thousands of other people to reverse the damage we're doing to the planet so our kids and grandkids and many generations still have beautiful places to live and play. And I want to help parents raise healthy kids who love good food and understand where it comes from.
PG: What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
AG: Preserving land for farming and parks for beauty, nature and recreation for future generations. I also desperately want to see Americans reduce our dependence on meat and see it more as a treat or a side dish, rather than the centerpiece of most meals. That's such an easy change that can have such big impact.
PG: What is the most challenging part of your job?
AG: Trying to please so many customers with so many different needs. But it's also one of the most rewarding parts because nearly every day I hear from people who tell me that my service changed their lives for their better and improved their families' health.
PG: What is the most rewarding?
AG: Just last week I heard from a mom of two kids who said that my service "Has been a lifesaver. Until a friend recommended it, our dinners were a rotating menu of frozen pizza, fish sticks and take out. I never cooked until reading the Scramble and who knew I'd actually enjoy it?"
PG: Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
AG: The farmers at Farmers' Markets who get up so early and work so hard no matter how great the challenges, how bad the weather, or how few the rewards.
PG: What green thing do you do everyday?
AG: I'm really proud of my recent commitment to compost and my whole family has really gotten into it. I was a little intimidated but it's really so easy.
PG: What do you wish you could do?
AG: I desperately wish we could grow more fruit and vegetables at our house but we don't have great sun anywhere and we have a serious deer overpopulation issue in our neighborhood. I can grow lots of herbs and a few veggies on our elevated deck, but would love to be able to grow more of our own food.
PG: What is your biggest eco-sin?
AG: Oh, this is an easy one. I love taking hot baths in the winter but I feel guilty about it whenever I do because of the energy it consumes. I limit myself to one bath a week (don't worry, I shower more often) and try to savor every moment of it.
PG: If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
AG: I'd like to get rid of all the junk food or at least most of it that populates our store shelves and replace it with real food made from ingredients we can recognize and pronounce. That would go a long way toward making people healthier and happier and supporting our agricultural heritage. Sometimes it's hard to compete with Doritos and Snickers, but the foods that give us temporary pleasure don't do right for us in the long run.
PG: What is your best green advice?
AG: Plan ahead for your meals so you can cook at home more often and waste less food, saving your wallet, your health and the environment. And cut meat consumption to a couple of times a week by learning to cook easy, family-friendly meatless meals.
[Change Makers is series of interviews with people famous and obscure who are creating a more sustainable world through their work. Meet more Change Makers here.