Emily strongly believes that climate change is her generation’s defining issue and has made it her mission to get her peers interested in environmental causes. Emily is also an enthusiastic cook, and having recognized the important relationship food shares with environment practices, created the cookbook to showcase explains how positive food choices significantly impact one’s environment as well as one’s health.
With a foreword by Robert Kennedy Jr., Don’t Cook the Planet features a collection of more than 70-delicious recipes donated by a variety of well-known chefs, politicians, celebrities and environmental activists including Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Robert Redford, and Tom Colicchio.
Head to Toe spoke with Ms. Abrams about her new book, practical tips for making a difference and her absolute favorite recipe from the compilation.
Head to Toe Wellness: Please tell us about how your passion for environmental causes first began?
Emily Abrams: I grew up in a house where being an activist was extremely important. My mother is an environmentalist and I have learned a lot from following in her footsteps. I surround myself with friends who are equally as passionate about this issue. (One of my friends was recently arrested at the White House protesting Keystone XL Pipeline!)
I am a senior at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, and I’ll be graduating in May of 2014. While at Deerfield, I’ve been studying environmental science and have a strong interest in the fight against climate change. I’ve been an activist since 2007, when I participated as an artist in the Cool Globes public art exhibition.
Head to Toe Wellness: How did the idea for the book come about?
Emily Abrams: I was planning a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with our family friend Gabriel Viti who is a prominent chef in Chicago. We started making the connection between climate change and food and from there the book kind of just took off! I want to make the point that climate change isn’t just about melting glaciers, but that everything is so interconnected. The choices we make have consequences, from the cars we drive to the food we eat. I want to empower people to feel they can do things that have a positive impact, like eating foods that are grown locally.
Head to Toe Wellness: Please tell us about the book and what we can expect to learn?
Emily Abrams: This book focuses on the intersection of food and sustainability. I collected recipes from chefs, eco-activists, politicians, and celebrities from around the world who care about the fight against climate change. Throughout the book are tips for readers that will help them reduce their impact on the planet.
When most people think about the most sustainable way to cook and eat they imagine being vegan. This book isn’t about completely cutting meat and dairy from your life, but it is about being mindful and making good choices. The ingredients in this book can be found at your local farmers market! When the distance from the farm to your table is shortened, your food in return tastes better!
Head to Toe Wellness: How did you manage to assemble such an all-star variety of contributors?
Emily Abrams: I was so incredibly fortunate to receive such an amazing response from all these contributors. It started out with a standard letter to each of the contributors. The letter explained my background and the purpose that stemmed to creating this cookbook. Getting such a positive response from the request really said to me that so many people out there care about sustainability and making a difference- and that was so inspiring.
Head to Toe Wellness: What are some of your favorite recipes from the book?
Emily Abrams: Not to be biased, but my favorite recipe in the book is my mom’s chocolate chip cookies! I suggest everyone make a batch of those immediately. *See recipe below
Head to Toe Wellness: Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote the foreword for your book. Why is he such an inspiration to you?
Emily Abrams: Bobby is amazing and he should not only be an inspiration to me but to everyone. I have never met someone who will do almost anything to fight for what he believes in. The fight against climate change isn’t an easy one, and most people just push it aside because it is so difficult, but Bobby has never stopped fighting and pushing people to understand what’s going on in our world. If everyone in the world had half of the fight and passion that Bobby had, climate change wouldn’t be a problem today.
Head to Toe Wellness: Do you have any tips for how an average person can ‘make a difference’ on a day-to-day basis without feeling like it’s an added chore?
Emily Abrams: Try “Meatless Mondays”. By eliminating meat from your diet at least one day a week you can easily reduce your carbon footprint. Look at how the foods you are buying are packaged. Avoid Styrofoam and look for alternative packaging such as cardboard. Another simple day-to-day change is drinking water from the tap instead of buying bottled water. It takes more fresh water to produce the plastic water bottle than the amount of actual water in the bottle!
Head to Toe Wellness: Do you think schools should be making more of an impact with pupils? For example, teaching children more about recycling, waste and what they can be doing to help promote the cause?
Emily Abrams: Yes, I think schools could be doing a lot more to make an impact. There should be way less trash cans and many more recycling bins. Schools should also focus on edible education. Alice Waters founded The Edible Schoolyard Project; it is an amazing organization that brings gardens and sustainable kitchens into schools and their curriculums. Kids learn the importance of sustainable and healthy eating in all of their subjects. Whether it be measuring the area of the tomato patch for geometry, or knowing the components of the soil for chemistry, the idea of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle that’s integrated into schools teach children for the long term.
Head to Toe Wellness: Do you think the government should be focusing more on environmental matters?
Emily Abrams: Of course! There is always something more that we can be doing to save the planet. We all can do our part, but at the end of the day, we need the government to implement laws to regulate pollution, and the Supreme Court ruled that the government not only has the authority to regulate CO2 pollution, they have the obligation to do so to protect the public interest. As a teenager with a vested interest in the future, I want to raise awareness of climate change and hope that our leaders will wake up to the sense of urgency surrounding this issue.
Head to Toe Wellness: What are your future plans and ambitions?
Emily Abrams: I will be attending college in the fall and plan to major in environmental studies. I know that anything I do will have a sustainability aspect to it.
100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to nonprofit organizations committed to a more sustainable planet.
To purchase Emily’s book visit - http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Cook-Planet-Deliciously-Saving/dp/1600789722
My Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
(My friends will do anything for these!)
Wendy Abrams, founder of Cool Globes (a.k.a my mom)
Highland Park, IL
2 sticks butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 2/3 cups floor
2 cup chocolate chips
Soften butter in microwave to the point where it is easy to blend without lumps, but not liquid; set aside.
Put brown sugar and white sugar into a mixing bowl. Stir in the butter and mix well with a wooden spoon. (If you use a hand mixer the batter and the cookies will be thinner.) Add in eggs; stir. Add in vanilla, baking soda, and salt; stir. Mix in 1 cup of the flour; stir. Add in the rest of the flour, and stir. Pour in chips, stir.
Bake at 235oF. The key to baking the best cookies is taking them out of the oven at precisely the right time (and this will vary from oven to oven). Take them out as soon as they no longer look “wet” but before they are brown. They will look undercooked, but they will continue to bake for a few minutes on the hot cookie sheet when you take them out of the oven.
Reprinted with permission from Triumph Books.