The Earth Day movement, that was started in the 1970′s by John McConnell, has since seen billions take part in planting trees, cleaning up local neighborhoods and pushing government officials to enact more progressive environmental laws. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was instrumental in raising awareness about protecting the environment. On April 22, 1970, rallies were held in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, as well as, on numerous college campuses across the country.
The mission of Earth Day was formally established by the Earth Society Foundation in 1976. Its mission was:
“Conduct educational programs and seminars and promote research and investigation throughout the world for the purpose of providing data to all individuals and institutions who are joining in the movement to promote and implement the Earth care ethic: namely, that the stewardship and care of earth requires action to produce and use materials and services that help nurture, conserve and recycle, without destructive pollution, the organisms and nutrients of Earth’s web of life. Coordinate or assist the work of like-minded organizations for the purposes of minimizing unnecessary duplication of energies and maximizing the impact and effectiveness of the earth care movement.”
Triggered by Earth Day awareness, the United States government has enacted many environmental programs, such as the Clean Air Act, Water Quality Improvement Act, Endangered Species Act, Toxic Substance Control and the Surface Mine and Reclamation Act.
Botanic gardens are natural resources for Earth Day events and their focus varies from being educational to just enjoying nature. Master gardening and children’s programs are a wonderful way to get families involved in gardening. There are bird watching and identification programs at gardens, since the birds are naturally attracted to the large variety of plants and flowers. Zoos also offer educational programs for patrons as a way to connect with nature through the animal world.
Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect on our food footprint (the environmental impact related to the production of food). The less processing your food sees the better. Eat locally and fill your market basket with in season produce. Eat local, sustainable fish. Eat less meat but, when you do, eat locally raised, grass-fed meat. Don’t waste food. Look for products that have minimal packaging or packaging and are made from recycled materials or with materials that can be recycled after use.
Grilled Redfish with Spinach Pesto
- 8 oz redfish fillet, cut in half or any fish fillets available in your area
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Spinach Pesto, recipe below
Prepare an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, lighting fresh coals if you are using a charcoal grill. If you are using a gas grill, preheat the grill by turning all burners on to high for about 10 to 15 minutes, then reduce one burner to a medium-high temperature. You may also cook the fish on a greased indoor grill.
Brush the redfish fillets with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Cut a sheet of heavy duty foil large enough to hold the fish and poke a few holes in it. Spray the foil with cooking spray and place the fish on top of the foil. Place the foil on a tray or plate to carry it out to the grill.
Slide the redfish fillets on the foil onto the grill and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes. Top the fish, while on the grill, with Spinach Pesto after 4 minutes of cooking time and continue to grill until the fish is cooked to your liking. My redfish fillets only took 6 minutes to cook, so watch the cooking time carefully.
This sauce is also delicious over grilled chicken.
- 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1’2 teaspoon salt and
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Combine the spinach leaves, pine nuts, lemon juice and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse.
With the machine running, gradually add the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add the salt and pepper. Pulse.
Pour into a serving bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
Green Beans with Toasted Pecans
Pecans are locally grown in my area and fresh thin green beans are now in season where I live.
- 6 ounces blanched green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the pecans and toast them. Set aside on a plate.
Heat the oil in the same pan and add the red onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender.
Add the green beans and salt and pepper to taste. Saute the beans until hot. Add the pecans and serve.
Fennel and Potato Casserole
- 2 lbs new or red potatoes, peeled
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
- 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible and put them in a large bowl of cold water to keep them from browning.
Cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Slice the fennel crosswise as thinly as possible.
In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, parsley and garlic.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Without draining the potatoes, use your hands to lift out about one-third of the slices and arrange them in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them slightly. (The water clinging to them will generate steam as they bake.)
Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Top the potatoes with half of the sliced fennel, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the fennel with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture and 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Repeat this layering process, ending with a top layer of potatoes. Season the top layer with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and some more pepper.
Top with the remaining breadcrumb mixture and the final 2 tablespoons oil.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Uncover and continue baking until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.