Pasta is Good for the Earth  


September 2015  


Welcome to the new issue of The Truth About Pasta, the monthly newsletter from the International Pasta Organization. Each month's newsletter features a new and different topic -- all pointing to The Truth About Pasta. The truth is......pasta is healthy, sustainable, convenient, delicious, affordable, doesn't make you fat, and much, much more. Be sure to look for each new issue, with more topics and information.


  Evidence that Pasta is Good for the Earth  
Pasta has been nourishing friends and families for centuries, but science shows that this tasty and tenacious food is good for the earth as well. Delicious, satiating pasta meals deliver flavor and fullness, without disruptive environmental effects.

As a rising number of nations (like Brazil and the United States) move towards incorporating sustainability in their dietary guidelines, more and more people are realizing the environmental benefits of healthy pasta meals.
Growing wheat for pasta is gentle on the planet. Additionally, because pasta is commonly available dried, it can resist spoiling for long periods of time without additives or preservatives, which can help keep food out of landfills.

Experts Say...

Expo Milano 2015 is the current world's fair (running May - October 2015 in Milan, Italy), and this year's theme is, "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." Pasta has been feeding the planet for centuries, so it is only fitting that the next World Pasta Day & Congress will be held within the EXPO 2015 framework this October 25-27. In fact, pasta might be one of the answers to the global food challenge.
According to Jeremy Rifkin , economist, writer and Ambassador of Expo Milano 2015, most people aren't aware that "upwards of 40% of all the agricultural land in the world is growing feed crops for animals. It means a tremendous loss of opportunity to grow food for everybody else." To help alleviate this problem, Rifkin explains that "we need to move down the food chain."
In a report from the United Nations Environmental Program , researchers explain that "Animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives." Pasta, a minimally processed plant food, is perfectly in line with the growing need to embrace plant-centric entrees.
In fact, the carbon footprint of pasta is only 1015 g CO2eq/kg -15.5 oz CO2 eq/lb.
For this reason, meals that showcase plant foods, such as a pasta meal with tomato sauce, vegetables, and legumes, are a perfect culinary introduction to sustainable diets. For those that would like to lesson their environmental footprint, pasta is the perfect base to stretch a small amount of meat or fish into a scrumptious, satiating meal.

Mothers Say...

Moms want to leave the planet in good shape for their children, so that future generations can experience earth's bounty. Luckily, earth-friendly pasta also happens to be a family favorite. Meg Resnikoff, mother of 3 and co-founder of What's Up Moms, is "passionate about finding ways to make life with kids easier in the kitchen." That's why healthy pasta meals are on heavy rotation at her home.

"Whenever I ask Avery and Brooks what they want for dinner, the answer is always the same,"   explains Resnikoff. They want pasta! Fortunately, moms know that pasta is the perfect vehicle to introduce kids to other healthy ingredients, like spinach, tomatoes, or avocado.
In this video from What's Up Moms, Meg Resnikoff shares an easy, kid-friendly pasta dish with an earth-friendly twist: some of the pasta water is reserved for the cooking sauce, rather than drained and wasted:

Cutting down on food waste (such as by re purposing cooking water) is a simple, yet critical way to leave a lighter footprint on the earth and promote sustainability.

 Moms of all different families can appreciate quick cooking pasta meals as the perfect dinner solution for busy weeknights.

 "A packet of pasta, some tomato and fresh basil... and in 30 minutes you have a delicious meal".
This was the declaration of love for pasta and the Mediterranean diet made by Michelle Obama, mother of two. It not only confirms the First Lady of Food's passion for pasta, but also reiterates the coherence between this food made with wheat and water, with simple and natural ingredients that are both sustainable and inexpensive.
Michelle, who has recently visited Expo Milano to talk about the results of the "Let's Move!" anti-obesity campaign was immortalized by TIME with a plate of spaghetti (for the cover of the Cooking Light magazine dedicated to food, health and wellness) offering her ecological pasta recipe: " one pot spaghetti, tomato and spinach." This cooking method is also used by Martha Stewart, a famous mother and business woman, and was recently innovated by the Michelin-starred chef,   Davide Scabin in the eleventh edition of Identita Golose 2015.

Health conscious moms will appreciate chef Scabin's Rigatone in pressione, where the raw ingredients cook in a pressure cooker in 11 minutes without oil or butter. This special rigatone with amatriciana sauce can help keep you in shape (no fats and 1/8 of the salt usually used to cook pasta) and also helps the environment because it's less energy-demanding and water-consuming. Because only 18% of the water normally used to boil pasta is used in this recipe, chef Scabin predicts that this method could save 17 billion litres of water in Italy, in one year!

Continuing the Tradition

Centuries before we knew about carbon footprints and greenhouse gases, pasta was a cornerstone of meals around the world. Today, as scientists assess the long-term viability of our food system, we can see that our ancestors were onto something.

Pasta was an essential safety net during poor harvests and less prosperous times, but it can also help safeguard against modern food challenges. Today, about one third of our food ends up in landfills, much of it spoiled before it even reaches our plate. Traditional dried pasta stays fresh naturally, without preservatives or additives, thus helping to reduce spoilage and waste.
The   United Nations Environmental Program notes that "as total food consumption and the share of animal calories increase with wealth, nutrition for rich countries tends to cause higher environmental impacts than for poor countries." Let's continue the tradition of many resource-challenged communities before us, and put more hearty, healthy pasta meals on our plates.

Recipe of the Month 

One-Pot Pasta
12 ounces (340 grams) linguine
12 ounces, about 2 ¼ cups (340 grams) cherry or grape tomatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced
2 whole sprigs fresh basil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¼ teaspoons salt
2-4 tablespoons (25-50 grams) of olive oil
4¼ cups (1 liter) water

  1. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Cook on high heat for 9 minutes.
  3. Toss pasta with tongs and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.
Nutrition Information
Per serving: Calories: 440, Total Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 740mg, Carbohydrate: 68g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 12g

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

Video of the Month
Cooked pasta is the perfect blank canvas for any cuisine, and is the perfect partner of any leftovers from the day before...
but the pasta water is also a versatile kitchen ingredient. Adding a few splashes of pasta water to your pasta sauce helps loosen the sauce, allowing it to stick to the pasta. Feeding your garden with leftover pasta water can also help plants release nutrients into the soil, contributing to a healthier planet.
This video highlights ways to incorporate leftover pasta water into recipes, which cuts back on food waste and encourages sustainable cooking practices:

Pasta Water: It's Liquid Gold! 

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