When people think of cuisine in Boston, many delicious thoughts come to mind. Bostonians love their seafood, baked beans and Italian foods. But as Boston is becoming a greener, more sustainable city, the population’s favorite dishes are evolving to include more local ingredients and vegetables and less fats, sugars and meats. This evolution also helps place Boston among the healthiest cities in the United States. In fact, Forbes named Boston the 3rd healthiest city in the country because of the high rate of exercise, and because 25 percent of Bostonians reported eating more than five servings of vegetables per day.
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Baked beans are one of Boston’s most famous classic dishes. The molasses-covered favorite is the reason Boston is nicknamed “Beantown”. But while most traditional recipes use pork, removing this ingredient makes the dish both greener and leaner. Since beans themselves are a great vegetarian source of protein, there is actually no nutritional need to add the pork, and, of course, there are plenty of non-meat ways to add extra flavor.
New England Clam Chowder
Clam chowder can never be vegetarian because the clams are a necessity. Luckily, clams are actually one of the most sustainable types of seafood. A majority of clams are farmed and are considered a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch – the most trusted seafood sustainability guide. Clams also help filter and clean the water they are grown in which makes it an even more sustainable choice to support these clam farms. Unlike other farmed seafoods, clams don’t need to be genetically modified to grow well in farms – so don’t be afraid of the word “farm” when it comes to bivalves. Plus, clams can be purchased from Massachusetts-based farms.
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Boston is well known for its Italian heritage so it is not surprising that the city is home to some of the best pizza places in the United States. Like New England clam chowder, pizza isn’t the “leanest” meal choice around. Luckily, there is an easy way to make pizza both leaner and greener – go vegetarian! Some restaurants even feature pizza made with locally grown toppings which lowers the meal’s carbon footprint even more. For example, Cafeteria on Newbury Street in the Back Bay has a pizza on the menu topped with butternut squash and local goat cheese.
New England is the prime climate for many fruits and vegetables, of which anyone watching their waistline should take advantage. In late spring, farm stands are brimming strawberries and green beans. Then they offer raspberries, and by August there is a healthy tomato crop. In the fall, many foods come into season, which, of course, is the inspiration for many of our Thanksgiving Day favorites. Bostonians can benefit from all of these local crops by joining a CSA or shopping at farm stands.
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Cameron Bruns is the founder of BostonGreenBlog.com and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.