October 2019 archive

Climate Infofluency

My big question about climate change is how can I reduce my effect on climate change through my passion of cooking?

Food is one of my biggest passions. I love to cook and bake, make old recipes, and create new ones. I am in the kitchen very often, either making a meal or experimenting with a new recipe. I know that food can have a big impact on our world and on climate change. I want to know how I can be more conscious when I am cooking so that it is better for the environment. I want to be able to use ingredients that are better for our planet, and get them in ways that are environmental. I came up with three simple solutions that I can use when I cook to help reduce my impact on our climate.

Solution 1:

My first solution is to reduce my food waste when I am cooking. Food waste is a huge factor to increasing climate change because if food is put into the landfilI it rots and produces methane gas. This is a common greenhouse gas that adds to the heating of the earth. About 1 third of all the food produced in the world is lost or wasted. That is 1.3 billion tonnes of food every single year. Not only does this produce more methane gas, but it wastes money too. As the population of the earth gets bigger, we need more food and therefore make a bigger impact on the environment. All of this food being wasted could actually feed others who really need it.

Overall, I realized that food waste has a bigger impact on climate change than I thought, and reducing it is a simple thing I can do when I am cooking. It is important to shop smart and only buy what I am going to eat. If I buy more than enough food, some will go rotten before I have a chance to eat it, and it will most likely go to waste. Food that rots easily often gets wasted. If I do have food that is going bad, I should eat it first, instead of something that I just bought. It is also very useful to freeze or pickle foods to preserve them so that they last much longer. When I am grocery shopping I could also choose produce that has a bruise or blemish. Even though they may not look perfect, it will still taste the same and the inside is completely fine to eat. Choosing foods that might not look perfect is a very good way to reduce food waste because if people are too picky to buy them they will go bad and get wasted.

The way food is stored is also a huge factor in how long it lasts. Food that is stored incorrectly will go bad sooner and therefore go to waste. If a refridgerator is disorganized, foods at the back can get forgotten and spoiled. An organized fridge will help to keep track of what foods need to be eaten when. Some foods, like bananas, tomatoes, peaches, and green onion, make a gas called ethylene when they ripen. If other foods, such as potatoes, apples, and peppers are stored next to a food producing ethylene, they ripen faster and spoil. So storing those foods separately cuts down on the amount of food that is wasted.

Parts of foods that are usually not eaten but still edible, can be saved and used in creative ways to reduce the food that is thrown out. Some examples are bread crust, fruit peels, stems or ends of produce, and carved pumpkins. These things can be used in soups or smoothies and then eaten. This reduces waste and is also more healthy because these foods that are usually wasted actually have lots of nutrients in them.

Finally, an easy way to save time, money, and reduce waste is to eat leftovers. Instead of buying a meal, eat the extra food that was made the night before. Leftovers can also be donated to help a good cause and reduce waste. Portion control is important as it makes sure that all the food is eaten instead of some being thrown away because it was too much.

Solution 2:

My second solution is to use more sustainable ingredients. A sustainable ingredient is grown, packaged, distributed, and consumed in a sustainable way. Using sustainable foods helps to keep ecosystems safe, supports biodiversity, respects natural resources and provides for the local economy. Sustainable food doesn’t waste or ruin natural earth resources, and the impact on ecosystems, air and water is considered by the farmers. They use the practice of crop rotation, where they grow a different food in a certain spot each year. This helps biodiversity and protects the soil’s health for the future.

Also, workers producing or transporting sustainable food are paid a fair, living wage and given safe, hygenic working conditions. Sustainable companies treat their animals respectfully, giving lots of care to their health and well-being. They are not confined to a cage, and farmers try to minimise or take away the suffering that the aninmal would go through when the food is being produced. Health and nutrition considerations are important in sustainable foods as well. The food produced should be healthy and safe with no chemicals, antibiotics, or growing supplements. Pesticides and GMOs are avoided as well.

Most importantly, sustainable ingredients limit climate change by being produced and transported in a certain way. The use of energy is important when moving or storing food, especially animal agriculture, because it leaves a big carbon footprint. Food can travel a long way from the farm to the grocery store, and then the store to a plate. This can be known as “food miles”. Food that travels a long way greatly impacts climate change because it produces huge amounts of carbon, which goes into the atmosphere and adds to the greenhouse effect.

Overall, a sustainable ingredient benefits the diversity of the environment, is respectful to animals and workers, is nutritious, and has a positive impact on climate change. While farmers do need to make money, they can do it sustainably, improving their output of food while still respecting the environment around them.

After learning all of this about sustainable ingredients, I have found some ways in which I can use them more often in my cooking. First, I can buy seasonal food from local farmers. If the food was grown close-by, it leaves way less of a carbon footprint from transportation. If specific fruits or vegetables are in season, they are less likely to have growth chemicals in them. I can also do some more research on brands that support sustainability, and simply buy ingredients from those brands. Then I am supporting those brands, instead of other ones that don’t produce sustainable ingredients. Finally, I can grow food myself, because it would definitely be sustainable, and very nutritious.

Solution 3:

The final solution that I researched is to save energy in the kitchen and food I buy. Food grown in a greenhouse uses lots of energy from all the lighting and heating. Lettuce and tomatoes especially have been said to have a huge carbon footprint and take up a large amount of energy to be grown, stored and transported. It takes lots of transportation to bring food to homes and grocery stores. All of this energy produces greenhouse gas emissions which affects climate change. Food production creates up to 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions on the earth.

Some easy ways I can save energy in my kitchen are to cook small dishes in the microwave or slow cooker instead of the full size oven. It uses 30% less energy and will put less heat into the house so less energy is used in air conditioning. Cooking without a lid also uses 3 times more energy than if I do use one. I can turn off the oven or stove early when making some meals, because it will still be hot to finish cooking. If I am pre-heating the oven, I should make sure that as soon as it is at the right temperature I put the food in. The best option would be to not cook at all, saving the most energy. It can be fun to experiment and find no-bake recipes.

Another way to save energy is to be smart with the fridge. 14 percent of a house’s energy is used by the refridgerator. To minimise the energy being used I can make sure the door isn’t leaking air, and taking more energy to keep itself cold. I shouldn’t keep the fridge door open for a long time because all the cold air will come out and it will take time to cool down again. Letting hot food cool before putting it in the fridge is also helpful so that the fridge doesn’t have to use more energy to cool down.

I can also reduce my water waste to conserve energy in my house. I find that whenever I cook I do use a lot of water and I want to practice using less. Wasting water contributes to climate change because it takes energy to treat water and transport it. I can save water by running the dishwasher only when it is a full load. If I am washing dishes by hand, I should not let the faucet run. I can also let dishes air dry instead of using energy for heat inside the dishwasher. I can line baking sheets with foil or parchment paper so that less water is used to wash them. Then I can reuse the foil or compost the parchment paper.

Finally, I can grow food myself. Growing food at my house saves energy because it has no food miles. Because it doesn’t travel at all, it therefore stays fresh longer. It is also more nutritious because it is natural, organic, and I know exactly what is in it. If I can’t grow it myself, buying food locally is better because it is grown on a farm, not in a greenhouse. This uses less energy, has less food miles, and supports local farmers. Producing livestock also uses a lot of energy, so if I reduce my meat consumption the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere goes way down.

In conclusion, there are many things that I can do when I am cooking to reduce my impact on climate change. I can reduce my food waste to lessen the amount of methane gas produced, use sustainable ingredients to protect ecosystems and save energy to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions. There are other things I could do to reduce my impact as well, including shopping smart, recycling, and planning, but these are just a few of the many options. It is not complicated to reduce my impact on our changing climate, and I can even do it in an easy way while enjoying my favourite passion.


Infofluency questions:

1) In order to find solutions to my main topic question, I made a few smaller questions that were related to it. That way, I could research the answers to them and then put all the information together to make solutions. These are my smaller questions:

  • What can I do to easily reduce my food waste?
  • How does food waste increase climate change?
  • What is a sustainable ingredient?
  • How could I use more sustainable ingredients in my cooking?
  • What are some ways that food creates climate change?
  • How can I use more environmental ways when I am cooking?

2) As I worked through this project, the digital tools I used were mostly familiar. I used the Riverside library website to get to some sources that I know are reliable, like World Book Online and Gale. I have used these in past middle school projects so I know that they are truthful and have good quality information. For this project though, I found it hard to find information on those sites that was related to my topic. I found one, but I also decided to use other websites I found because they had more information related to what I was looking for.

To make sure my sites were fully reliable I used the information fluency tools of acquiring, to find good information, and analyzing, to make sure it was good. Some of the digital tools I used were Google, EasyBib and Pexels. I have used EasyBib before but Pexels is a new tool that I learned about this year. I find it very helpful for my Edublog projects.

3) In order to investigate this topic, I used the process of CHOMPing that I learned in middle school. Basically I took brief notes in my own words with only the important information. I made sure I understood the whole idea of the concept I was learning about. Then I put the  notes into paragraphs to demonstrate what I had learned. I think the information I found was definitely relevant to my topic and fully answered my small questions.

4) To verify and cite the information I found I first made sure the websites I used were trustworthy. I used ones where they showed and author and the date it was published. Also, some of the authors seemed very well-educated and the website’s purpose was to give true information. An example is the website Eco & Beyond, where their mission is “to empower everyone on the planet to make one small change towards a more sustainable future”. They also want to be a “directory and discovery tool” that people can use. I found this website very helpful with lots of good information.

To cite the information I found I used EasyBib. I have used it before in research projects and it has been very helpful to me. I found all of my pictures for this project on Pexels.com. Before inserting them into my post made sure they were “free to use”, and then I put the link below.

5) The process of completing this challenge went well overall. I enjoyed learning about something that I was interested in. I am really glad we got to choose our question, because it I know that I will use the information I learned in my passion of cooking. The researching went fairly well because I found a lot of information to use. I took lots of notes from the websites, which I didn’t find challenging because there was lots of information I needed. Then I put them into paragraphs that explained my solutions, which gives the whole idea to whoever is reading it.

I could have done better by using a bigger variety of sources for my research. I used all online sources, when instead I could have used a book or even a person who was experienced in my topic. If I was to do this again I would definitely use a book because it might be more reliable with information. I would also spend more time on the Riverside library databases, trying to find more information on my topic.


Photos I used (all photos from Pexels.com):

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Bibliography (all citations done by EasyBib.com):

Ackers, Kylie, et al. “What Does Food Sustainability Really Mean?” Eco & Beyond, 12 Sept. 2019, http://www.ecoandbeyond.co/articles/food-sustainability/.

Alter, Lloyd. “The Impact of Food Waste on Climate Change (And Just About Everything Else).” TreeHugger, Narrative Content Group, 5 Mar. 2010, http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/the-impact-of-food-waste-on-climate-change-and-just-about-everything-else.html.

Chung, Emily. “How to Eat More Sustainably without Giving up the Foods You Love | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 6 Dec. 2018, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/food-climate-change-carbon-footprint-1.4930062.

“Food and Climate Change.” David Suzuki Foundation, Briteweb, davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/food-climate-change/.

“Help End Food Waste.” David Suzuki Foundation, Briteweb, davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/help-end-food-waste/.

Kubala, Jillian. “20 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 20 Nov. 2017, http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/reduce-food-waste.

Leschin-Hoar, Clare. “25 Ways to Be a More Sustainable Cook.” Cooking Light, Meredith Corporation, 28 Feb. 2018, http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/green-living/ways-to-be-more-sustainable-cook.

Magee, Elaine. “8 Ways to Go ‘Green’ in Your Kitchen.” WebMD, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/8-ways-to-go-green-in-your-kitchen#4.

“What Exactly Is a Sustainable Ingredient?” The Inside Scoop, theinsidescoop.eliorgroup.com/en/what-exactly-sustainable-ingredient.

Willsey, Marie. “10 Tips for Eco-Friendly Cooking.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 28 June 2018, science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/10-tips-eco-friendly-cooking.htm.

Victoria, Don Gunasekera. “Cut food waste to help feed world.” Nature, vol. 524, no. 7566, 2015, p. 415. Gale In Context: Science, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A427008497/SCIC?u=43sbo&sid=SCIC&xid=d4707db1. Accessed 16 Oct. 2019.

Aquatic Field Studies

Over the past few weeks in my science honours class we have been studying water quality and invertebrates. First, we learned about invertebrates and how they related to the quality of the water they live in. Then we walked to the Coquitlam River and the Oxbow pond that is behind our school. We searched for the different invertebrates that were living in those two study environments and then made inferences about how they could tell us what the quality of the water was. These are some results from our field studies and how the water quality and life in the two study sites compare.

To test the water quality, we measured the water temperature, air temperature, and pH for both the river and pond. Then we used measurements previously taken by other students who were doing a similar unit. Some examples of those measurements were the turbidity, nitrates, phosphates and dissolved oxygen. The water quality is based on all of these parameters, so we combined all the measurements to find a total water quality index.

For the Coquitlam river study site, we calculated that the water quality index was 82.26 out of 100. That says that the water quality is good and supports a high diversity of life. For the Oxbow pond study site, the water quality index that we found was 74.14 out of 100, which says that the pond also has good quality water, but slightly less than the river.

At the Coquitlam river, we held a net under the water and scrubbed river rocks inside a 1-foot square in front of the net. That way, any living thing attached to the rock would flow into the net and we could study it close-up. My group found a cranefly larva, a dragonfly nymph, and two mayfly larvae. The class found a total of sixteen mayfly larvae, one caddisfly larva, two snails, two stonefly nymphs, a water mite, a crane fly larva, two dragonfly nymphs and a spider.

At the Oxbow pond behind Riverside, we brushed the net along the edge of the water and the bushes surrounding it, to try and catch living things in different areas of the water. Our group did the testing, but we couldn’t find any life in the Oxbow pond. I think this was because the water was very murky and so it was hard to see things moving. The class however found many different living things. As a class we found four dragonfly nymphs, three aquatic sow bugs, four different fish, three dragonfly larvae, two spiders, a dragonfly suborder, an alderfly and a water mite.

These sample results compare in a few different ways. Both study sites had many living things that we found, but we found more life in the Coquitlam river. This could have just been the way our testing went that specific day, but it could also mean that life is more abundant in the river than the pond. Also, there were dragonfly nymphs, spiders, and water mites found in both study sites. The other living things that we found were each in only one of the two locations. So the life was quite diverse between the two sites.

These different invertebrates come from three different categories that can indicate the quality of the water they are found in.

The living things found in the river were generally from category one, indicating good quality water. They can only live in good water so that means that the river must be fairly good quality or else those invertebrates wouldn’t survive. Eighteen out of twenty-three invertebrates we found in the river were from this category, which is the majority of them. Three invertebrates were from category two, which can tolerate some pollution but can also be in good quality water. Two invertebrates found were from category three and can tolerate any water quality.


Most of the living things found in the pond were from category two. The invertebrates in category two can be in good quality water but can also tolerate fair quality water. One invertebrate that we found in the pond was the water mite, which is from category three. The water mite can tolerate any quality of water. Since we didn’t find any invertebrates from category one in the pond, and found most from category two, this could mean that the water quality is fair, but not the best.

After gathering all this information, I believe that the water quality in the river is generally really good, and therefore supports a high number of living things. The majority of the invertebrates found in the river indicate good water quality, which is another reason why I think the water quality is good.

I believe that the water quality in the pond is fair, but not as good as the river. This is because the invertebrates found in the pond were mostly from category two, which can tolerate some pollution. Since no invertebrates found in the pond were form category one, I think this is a clear sign that the water quality isn’t the best.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed studying this topic in science class because it was interesting and hands-on. I think it is way more fun to learn in a way when you get to actually do the learning yourself instead of being told the information. It is also fun to be outside and do something you wouldn’t normally do in school.

I learned a lot during this unit. I didn’t know very much about invertebrates and I thought it was very cool that they can actually tell us about water quality in a certain location. I learned that there are many factors in determining water quality and each one is very unique and specific. I also learned that there are tons of living things in nature even when you don’t see them at first. Most importantly, I learned that you can complete field science experiments right in our neighbourhood!

If we were to do this again, I would like to study the invertebrates that we found a little bit more. We could take more of them back to the classroom to look at them under the microscopes. I think this activity would have been more meaningful if we had more people wearing chest waders in the water. I understand that we only have a certain amount for the class, but I think we should have gone to the study sites more than once so that everyone understood what it was like to wear the chest waders and test for invertebrates.

Overall, I really enjoyed learning hands-on during this project and being in nature during science class!


All pictures taken by group members in science 9 honours.