One meal a month for Mother Earth

Idea behind ‘Family Green Survival’ is to reduce waste
By: Susan Belknap Press-Tribune Editor
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For many of us, saving energy and going green means recycling our cans and bottles and using florescent light bulbs. For Roseville resident Gopal Kapur, it’s much more. Kapur, a Sun City resident originally from India, has recently developed Family Green Survival, a program of personal practices he designed to help people develop knowledge and empathy for the world’s low-income and poor population by eating like they do one day each month. “My wife and I came up with the idea,” Kapur said. “We’ve been practicing it for about five months now. It came about through caring about waste of food, abuse of food and disrespect of food.” Kapur said he’s noticed after living in the United States for more than 40 years that many people have an abundance of food, much of which is wasted. “I’m not promoting Family Green Survival because I want people to be guilty of their abundance,” he said. “Instead this program is designed out of a respect for that abundance. Many people in the United States work very hard for all that they have. I just think we need to be thankful for that abundance.” Kapur said there are two components to Family Green Survival, which include Eating Green and Survival Eating. According to Kapur, Eating Green is based on the adage, “think globally, act locally” and involves a pledge to eat one day a month only raw foods that have been minimally processed after harvesting. Food such as vegetables, nuts, fruits, seeds, honey and water from the tap are allowed on an Eating Green day. Items such as wood or charcoal fires, gas burners, barbecues, electrical appliances including blenders, food processors, coffee makers, stoves or ovens are not permitted. In addition, no disposable plates, cups, paper towels or plastic utensils should be used on an Eating Green day. As for liquids, no bottled water, soft drinks, alcohol, coffee or tea should be consumed. Instead Kapur promotes drinking water or hand-squeezed juices. Eating Green day also promotes minimal use of TV, the telephone and computers. “It’s the day to reflect,” Kapur said. “It’s the day to talk, walk, exercise, garden, sing, dance, relax and frolic.” Kapur said when he first presented his idea of Eating Green Survival he thought that people would be skeptical. But he said many people said they were thrilled to have a day a month not to have to worry about what to cook “To get food on the table without so much packaging and waste is the idea,” Kapur said. Roseville resident and Rose-ville Rotary Club President Glen Fong was one of Kapur’s first students. He has experienced both the Eating Green and Survival Eating plans. “I thought this was something that was interesting,” Fong said. “I’m doing it not only for myself but for the environment too.” Fong said changing his eating habits a few days a month has not been difficult. In fact, following the Eating Green plan was convenient he said because no cooking was involved. “I have had salads for breakfast and lunch and then a Chinese dish with lots of vegetables for dinner,” he said. “I used some of the recipes Gopal has on the Family Green Survival Web site.” According to Kapur, Ameri-cans produce 14 pounds of non-degradable waste per person per week. Of that 14 pounds, only ¼ of it can be recycled. “That means there’s lots of waste that is piling up. We could all help to reduce that by making this commitment to eat green one day a month,” he said. The key to Eating Green according to Kapur is to take trips to local farmers’ markets and to buy items in bulk to avoid the issue of so much packaging. Participants are advised to grow their own herbs, use honey instead of sugar and balsamic vinegar, olive oil and canola oil for salad dressings and flavoring. “Just think of it as one day a month as a Mother’s Day for Mother Earth,” he said. For those participants who don’t think they would know how to eat without passing through a drive-thru or micro-waving their frozen pizza, Kapur even includes ideas for recipes for Eating Green, which include a variety of salad dressings. In addition to Eating Green one day each month, Kapur also advises Survival Eating, a program that asks participants to pledge to eat as millions of poor people do each day of their lives by consuming between 1,000 to 1,4000 calories for the day. “In many developed countries daily calorie consumption hovers around 3,600 calories per day,” Kapur said. “In America, it’s about 3,654 calories each day and food waste is incomprehensible. The experience of Survival Eating will create a deeper understanding and personal empathy for the world’s poor.” Kapur has also included recipes for those who wish to participate in Survival Eating. The rules for Survival Eating are that food must be prepared and cooked at home. Due care must be exercised to portion control. Kapur hopes those families participating in Survival Eating will eat together and take the time to discuss their views and feelings about the food, it’s quantity, quality and nourishment. In the Survival Eating plan food such as meat and fish are used as supplements. A portion might be 1 ounce instead of 6 or 8 ounces. The plan uses rice and grains, beans, lentils, tortillas and flatbread. Kapur developed these two eating plans not for personal gain. There is no fee to sign up. No forms to fill out, no meetings to attend. Instead it’s just a personal way to commit to experience the way many people in other parts of the world live and treating our own abundance with respect. “I want people to feel positive about this,” Kapur said. “We should feel thankful for what we have. By practicing these programs one day each month, there is intrinsic value.” To learn more, go to