Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bamboo in the Kitchen

Many of you have probably already seen these cutting boards in your local department stores. Bamboo is gaining much popularity, for its durability, aesthetics, and low cost. But what a lot of people don't realize is that bamboo is a very eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to hardwood. Bamboo is actually a grass, and a very fast-growing one at that; requiring no fertilizers or pesticides to grow as much as four feet a day*. Bamboo products are lightweight, easy to care for, and look great in your kitchen.

When it was time to replace our worn, wooden cutting boards, we invested in a beautiful bamboo board much like the one shown in the picture. Over the years, it has maintained its smooth finish; requiring only a light wiping with a paper towel dampened with canola oil on occasion, to maintain its sheen. Just a few wipes with a soapy sponge and a quick rinse are all these boards need to stay clean.

Since we loved our bamboo board so much, it was an easy decision when we found some of these Oneida Bamboo cooking utensils at our local discount department store. We have the slotted spoon, as well as the regular pot spoon. Both are now heavily used each day, in conjunction with our cast-enamel cookware. The bamboo utensils are very lightweight, but extremely durable. The handles are just the right length for stirring most any size pot. The rounded, smooth finish is perfect for scraping up browned bits from the bottoms of pots and pans, but without the risk of scratching surfaces. It's also great that I don't have to worry about leaving one of these spoons resting on or inside a hot pot while I grab some more ingredients and seasonings.

Bamboo is turning up in all sorts of products, including flooring, counter tops, bedding, towels, and even clothing. One of my dear friends (who will remain nameless) proudly struts around town in bamboo briefs. He says they are the softest, most comfortable underwear he has ever put on. Bamboo adds a naturally antibacterial property to its fabric, and draws excess moisture from the skin*; making it perfect for our South Florida weather.

A few things to keep in mind when shopping for bamboo: like many green products, there are "greenwashed" alternatives waiting on the shelves, too. Choose those with labels that specify that the bamboo is "hand-harvested", made from formaldehyde-free glues, and is Giant Panda habitat-friendly.

Enjoy :)





Bamboo cutting board photo courtesy of Amazon.com
Bamboo 4-piece set utensils photo courtesy of Amazon.com
*More info on the eco-friendly qualities of bamboo at Gaiam.com

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