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Treehugger / Illustration by Catherine Song

Best of Green Awards 2021: Sustainable Food and Drink

Our eco-friendly food and drink winners provide for feasting that does the planet well.

To say that we love food is an understatement; Treehugger is passionate about it from farm to fork and all the way to the compost bin and back to the soil. Unfortunately, all food is not created equal. The global food system is a mess and makes a significant contribution to climate change, while climate change has a potentially tremendous impact on food production.

While it would be great if every food and beverage maker on the planet decided to heed the call of sustainability, we’re not quite there yet. But by supporting those who do, we can help move the needle by engaging in a healthier food system and minimizing our food footprints—all the while nourishing ourselves with beautiful, delicious food!

With that in mind, this edition of Treehugger's Best of Green Awards is shining the spotlight on eco-friendly food and drink. To help us home in on the best of the best, we teamed up with a trio of our sister sites: Serious EatsThe Spruce Eats, and Liquor.com. All that expertise!

How We Chose The Winners

In assessing the food and drink industry, we looked for items that shine in one or more of the following ways:

They are plastic-free, refillable, made using water responsibly, made using sustainable agriculture, made using renewable energy, address food waste, plant-based, cruelty-free, support biodiversity, help one to eat and drink more sustainably, and more.

We called for nominations from readers, contributors, staff, and outside experts, then carefully vetted each nominee to come up with our honorees. To help us spotlight the winners, our panel of experts tested and/or commented on items.

Meet the Panelists

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Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song

Heather Ramsdell: Senior Editorial Director, The Spruce Eats

Heather Ramsdell is the Senior Editorial Director for The Spruce Eats, where she leads food editors, recipe developers, and writers to create original recipes, photos, and videos that help people cook, learn about, and celebrate food.

Daniel Gritzer: Culinary Director, Serious Eats

Daniel Gritzer is the culinary director at Serious Eats,  where he writes recipes, equipment reviews, articles on cooking techniques, and more. Prior to that, he was a food editor at Food & Wine magazine, and the staff writer for Time Out New York's restaurant and bars section.

Melissa Breyer: Editorial Director, Treehugger

Melissa Breyer is the editorial director at Treehugger and is an expert on all things green. She has been cooking since she could reach the counter and has developed hundreds of recipes for online publications and is the co-author of several recipe books.

Alexis Doctolero: VP Trade Marketing and Activation, Liquor.com

Alexis Doctolero joined Liquor.com in 2010, with ten years of experience in the spirits and hospitality industry, including having worked at some of the best cocktail bars, before that. Doctolero is a liaison to the bartending community.

Tess Koman: Senior Editorial Director, Serious Eats

Tess Koman joined Serious Eats earlier this year and serves as the site's senior editorial director. Prior to that, she was the digital director at Delish. Her work has appeared on Cosmopolitan.com, Elle.com, and Esquire.com.

Lindsey Reynolds: Visual & Content Quality Editor, Treehugger

Before joining the Treehugger team, Lindsey Reynolds did PR for award-winning chefs and restaurants, was the managing editor for Tales of the Cocktail, and was awarded the Nathalie Dupree fellowship at the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi.

Best Spirits

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Good Vodka

What to Know: You might be surprised to learn that one of the industry’s most sustainable vodkas starts out life as a coffee plant. What? It’s true! Good Vodka from Good Liquorworks is made from the discarded fruit that surrounds a coffee bean. Known as cascara, some 15 million tons of it are wasted each year. Good works directly with the Colombian Coffee Federation to compensate farmers for their fruit waste before concentrating it and shipping it to its distillery in New York, where it is then magically transformed into this delicious quaff.

Why We Chose It: We love an independent company on a mission to “develop new, climate-positive spirits from overlooked agricultural byproducts and novel ingredients.” More. Of. This. But we also love a delicious vodka, and Good Vodka rings all the bells. "A lot of people think vodka is tasteless," says Melissa Breyer, Treehugger's editorial director. "But there are so many nuances to it. Good Vodka has fleeting notes of vanilla, cherry, and pepper from the cascara. It really lives up to its name."

Copalli Cacao Rum

What to Know: Made in Belize, Copalli Cacao Rum comes from the Copal Tree Distillery, which boasts an impressive list of sustainability practices. All of the sugar cane used to make the rum is non-GMO, heirloom, hand-cut, and comes from the distillery’s farm, which was the first certified organic farm in Belize. From regenerative farming to zero waste production, the distillery is designed to be zero impact.

Why We Chose It: “Never thought I'd be someone who drank rum straight, but this Belizean rum (made from sugar cane, canopy water, and yeast sourced from an all-organic farm) is infused with cacao nibs and has a lovely creamy finish,” says Lindsey Reynolds, cocktail expert and Treehugger's Visual & Content Quality Editor. “I'm sure it'd also be swell in a spiked hot chocolate or swirled into whipped cream on top of a holiday pie.”

Gray Whale Gin

What to Know: Golden State Distillery’s Gray Whale Gin is a delicious gin with a poetic backstory: It is made with locally sourced organic and/or wild foraged botanicals found along the migratory path of the blue whale. Think Baja California limes and sea kelp from Mendocino. Additionally, 1% of sales (not just profit) go to eco causes and the bottle has organic paint and a 100% biodegradable cork. 

Why We Chose It: Hurray for flavor that has not been sacrificed for the eco accolades. In Liquor.com’s round-up of best gins, Jonah Flicker sums it up best by explaining that Gray Whale is even delicious on its own as a sipping spirit, an unusual accomplishment for something generally used in cocktails. He notes it is “made with six sustainably sourced botanicals from the state: juniper, mint, limes, fir tree, almonds, and kombu. This combination of flavors results in a light and crisp gin that works well in any cocktail, but can also be enjoyed in a Glencairn glass, or perhaps in a tumbler with some ice.”

El Tesoro Tequila

What to Know: A liquor brand that prioritizes bats and cacti? Yep! El Tesoro Tequila’s master distiller Carlos Camarena created the Bat‐Friendly Tequila Project to boost the natural resistance of the blue weber agave against the threat of disease. Allowing a percentage of their agave to flower and be pollinated by the long‐nosed bat means less agave available for tequila, but increases the genetic diversity—and long-term survival—of the species.

Why We Chose It: “In addition to being one of the world’s best tasting and well-crafted tequilas, El Tesoro has been leading the way for years when it comes to sustainable practices aimed at the long-term health and viability of the blue weber agave plant,” says Alexis Doctolero, VP of Trade Marketing and Activation at Liquor.com. “Carlos Camarena and this family-run brand are a beacon of hope in the rapidly growing world of tequila production.” It’s this kind of stewardship and forward-thinking approach that we’d love to see everywhere.

Best Breweries and Vineyards

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New Belgium Brewery

What to Know: Maker of America's first certified carbon neutral beer, New Belgium is a brewery that's long been focused on reducing its environmental impact while delivering delicious beers for people to enjoy.

Why We Chose It: This pro-bicycle company uses wind, solar, and biogas to generate electricity. When it launched Fat Tire, its acclaimed carbon-neutral beer, it held a 24-hour flash sale where six-packs cost $100, as a way of illustrating the rising costs linked to climate change. "New Belgium is a beloved brand for its great-tasting beer, but I also love their catchy climate campaigns," says Breyer. Case in point? They recently created a conversation-sparking brew called Torched Earth that “tasted” of climate change, with smoke-tainted water and drought-resistant grains.

Smith-Madrone Vineyard

What to Know: Smith-Madrone stands out among other Napa region wineries for its dry-farming techniques. It does not irrigate grapevines past the age of 7 or 8 years, at which point it relies just on rainfall. This results in vines with deeper roots and grapes with a higher skin-to-juice ratio, which offers a rich, intense flavor.

Why We Chose It: California is an arid state, so it's imperative for farmers to use water responsibly. Cutting out supplemental irrigation is a way to embrace an age-old farming practice while producing a wine with more flavors, colors, and tannins. As vineyard owner Stuart Smith explains, it also makes his wine more socially responsible: “We think that wine grapes should try to use as little water as is humanly possible so that we're a good neighbor.”

Left Coast Estate

What to Know: This 17-year-old family-owned winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is certified as sustainable through LIVE, an independent third-party certification that assesses all land inputs to ensure they align with the most recent research and environmental standards.

Why We Chose It: Left Coast goes above and beyond in maintaining its 500-acre estate. It uses solar power, has a vast "ecological compensation" area that it's restoring to indigenous species, woodlots and wildflower gardens, beehives, and a bottle recycling program, among other initiatives. 

Roadhouse Brewing

What to Know: This brewery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, takes its sustainability efforts seriously. A new facility was designed to minimize its carbon footprint by sharing kegs, recapturing and recycling heat, and using solar panels to offset power usage and feedback into the town's grid. Spent grain is fed to nearby beef cattle. We especially like how Roadhouse uses the region's long winters for cooling the beer storage cooler; a system of louvers is connected to a thermostat, and open and close to the outside in order to maintain an even 34 degrees.

Why We Chose It: This year, Roadhouse was named one of the "Best for the World" companies, designating it as one of the most eco-friendly companies in the world by B Lab, the non-profit that certifies socially conscious B corporations. That's an impressive distinction! As Roadhouse notes, to qualify as a B Corp, a company must “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” A great beer to boot is a win for beer lovers and a win for the planet!

Best Other Drinks

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Seedlip Nonalcoholic Spirits

What to Know: Seedlip was launched in 2014 to pioneer the booze-free market with sophisticated, botanical-based sippers, and they’ve been leading the pack ever since. Gone are the days when a nonalcoholic drink was “pina colada mix, hold the rum”! We’re especially smitten with the Grove 42 flavor, a distilled and lively mix of citrus, lemongrass, and ginger.  

Why We Chose It: Seedlip has always championed natural ingredients, and they’re following other sustainability practices as well—from glass bottles, sustainable packaging, and plans to be carbon neutral by 2022. Meanwhile, it’s just a great product. Liquor.com crowned Seedlip “best overall” in their round-up of best nonalcoholic spirits, noting that “there’s a reason Seedlip is a household name when it comes to nonalcoholic spirits. Its neutral profile and excellent mixability make it an easy reach for making nonalcoholic cocktails.”

Rambler Sparkling Water

What to Know: We always try to advocate for tap water, but tap is not always the best option for everyone. And sometimes we really just want a satisfying alternative to a sugar-laden soft drink. Enter Rambler. The company created a proprietary Texas limestone filtration system that they use with water that comes from only sustainable sources, which allows them to scale up without depleting sensitive water sources. Additionally, they partner with programs like American Rivers and Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation to help preserve natural areas.

Why We Chose It: “I'm guilty of drinking one to three sparkling waters a day during the dog days of Texas summer,” says Reynolds. “Their grapefruit flavor has just the right amount of citrus and bubbles, and their proprietary Texas limestone filtration system makes for a nice mouthfeel.”

CatSpring Yaupon Tea

What to Know: While coffee and tea from faraway places are a beloved staple in America, that “faraway places” bit is definitely an elephant in the sustainability room. But believe it or not, there is one caffeinated plant native to North America called yaupon, and CatSpring Yaupon Tea is your ticket to drinking it at home. The Texas company focuses on sustainable farming and wild foraging of this plant that grows on nothing but sunshine and rainwater.

Why We Chose It: “Who knew yaupon was North America's original caffeinated beverage obsession?” asks Reynolds. “I like to drink the Pedernales Green selection iced with some fresh squeezed lemon juice as an afternoon pick-me-up. No coffee jitters, no tannins to turn it bitter, and no yucky pesticides. Buy it loose so you can avoid all that unnecessary plastic and packaging.”

Driftaway Coffee

What to Know: For habitual coffee drinkers, there may be no better item for delivery via subscription than coffee beans. (We all know the agony of waking up to an empty coffee bin.) If you are a member of this camp, Driftaway Coffee delivery service is the way to go. 

Why We Chose It: Heather Ramsdell, senior editorial director for The Spruce Eats, explains why she likes Driftway, describing them as “a coffee subscription company that works with small farms and small roasters, uses 100% compostable packaging and offsets 100% of emissions from shipping and operations.” What’s not to love?

Noughty Sparkling Rosé

What to Know: Nonalcoholic bubbles have come a long way since champagne-bottle-shaped bottles of sparkling apple juice. No offense to champagne-bottle-shaped bottles of sparkling apple juice, but meet Noughty. The brainstorm of Amanda Thomson, the CEO and founder of Thomson & Scott, Noughty is a de-alcoholized sparkling rose made with a winemaker’s approach. It is a highly crafted product with a sustainable heart.

Why We Chose It: “Because not everyone drinks alcohol all the time, it’s only fair that there are gorgeous, nonalcohol versions of delicious tipples,” says Breyer, who likes that Noughty is “vegan, low-sugar, 100% organic, and built on transparent practices.” Thomson & Scott is a certified B-Corp company, “which encapsulates everything about Amanda’s philosophy: ethical, honest wines.”

Best Pantry Staples

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Rancho Gordo Ayocote Negro Beans

What to Know: Rancho Gordo is an heirloom bean company based in California that's become famous for its high-quality, delicious, and unusual products. While most are grown in the U.S., Rancho Gordo also collaborates with Mexican farmers to grow certain rare beans that are indigenous to their regions—this "despite international trade policies that seem to discourage genetic diversity and local food traditions." 

Why We Chose It: "Rancho Gordo has earned its excellent reputation selling beautiful and fresh heirloom beans (yes, even dried beans should be 'fresh'!) from their Napa headquarters," says Daniel Gritzer, culinary director at Serious Eats. "These beans are part of their collaboration with Xoxoc, a Mexico-based food company, which is dedicated to working with small farmers in Mexico to cultivate and sell indigenous bean varieties at a fair price. These meaty black beans shine like onyx before cooking, and have a rich and earthy flavor."

King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour

What to Know: This whole wheat flour is milled from hard white spring wheat, which offers a lighter-colored grain and adds whole grain fiber and nutrition to baked goods without affecting the flavor. The wheat is Identity-Preserved, which King Arthur describes as being “grown from certified seeds, using sustainable farming practices, and is traceable from field to flour.”

Why We Chose It: Tess Koman, senior editorial director at Serious Eats, explains why she loves this product. “Firstly, King Arthur is an employee-owned company with long-established sustainable growing practices (solar-powered HQs, no bleaching, carpooling benefits, etc.), so I try to support them as much as possible. More specifically, though, this white whole wheat flour has become my absolute go-to, particularly when baking something my mother would call ‘overly sweet.’ I’ll swap in about half a cup each time I’m making sufganiyot for a mellowed dough that thrives with tons of jelly and sugar.”

Lotus Foods Organic Forbidden Rice

What to Know: This heirloom organic grain has a beautiful black-purple color, roasted nutty taste, and soft texture. Known as “longevity rice,” it is said to have been eaten by Chinese emperors to increase health and ensure a long life. Today, this rice is produced by small family farms in China’s Black Dragon River region. 

Why We Chose It: Lotus Foods is committed to better rice-growing techniques in developing countries that reduce the physical burden on women, who typically do the backbreaking work of transplanting seedlings, weeding, and harvesting rice, all while standing in water. Lotus calls this set of agricultural practices “More Crop Per Drop,” and it requires no specialized seeds or chemical inputs to grow plants with more extensive root systems, and thus better yields. An estimated 500 million gallons of water are saved annually using this method, and methane emissions are slashed 40% by not keeping fields flooded. 

California Olive Ranch 100% EVOO

What to Know: A pantry staple like none other, this extra-virgin olive oil is made entirely from California olives, making it a great “local” option for any American home cooks. The Ranch uses 100% drip irrigation, which improves water efficiency and reduces evaporation. Its special harvesting techniques allow for more trees to be grown within a given area, increasing yields.

Why We Chose It: Not only is the company focused on sustainability and zero-waste production, but the EVOO itself is excellent. Simply Recipes honored it in a roundup of top-notch olive oils, describing it as “mild-tasting and slightly fruity… a clean, simple flavor that wasn't overpowering and is a great option for everything from roasting vegetables to baking and bread-dipping.”

Sfoglini Organic Pasta

What to Know: You may think American pasta wouldn't measure up to Italian, but learn about Sfoglini, and you'll quickly change your mind. Made in upstate New York using American-sourced flours, Sfoglini makes 15 organic durum semolina pastas, as well as a range of pastas from organic whole grain, rye, emmer, einkorn, and spelt flours. It uses traditional methods, with bronze dies and plates that create a rough surface allowing the sauce to adhere. All are slow-dried at low temperatures to preserve flavor and nutrients. 

Why We Chose It: Breyer is a fan of this pasta. She says, “Aside from the wonderful slow-food approach of this company, I love these pastas for their interesting flours and flavors, and that the shapes are all wonderfully designed to work just right with different sauces. I especially love the hemp radiators, but the zucca (‘little flower’) shape is also really fun and a crowd pleaser.”

Best Perishables

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Mother Nature: Apples

What to Know: America's most-consumed fruit is the ultimate in zero-waste packaging. Its skin protects it naturally from contamination during transportation and can be easily washed at home. Apples are nutritious, delicious, and versatile; and they are available everywhere in the United States, where they are typically grown by thousands of farmers from diverse backgrounds.

Why We Chose It: Heather Ramsdell, senior editorial director at The Spruce Eats, nominated apples for this category, saying, "Apples have their own wrapper. They do not generate waste and they last a long time so you don't have to throw them away." What could be more sustainable than that?

Impossible Burger

What to Know: The Impossible Burger was one of the first plant-based burgers that attempted to recreate the experience of eating meat in veggie form. This makes it accessible to people who may still eat meat, but want a more sustainable option now and then. Impossible’s production uses 96% less land and 87% less water than conventional beef, resulting in 89% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Why We Chose It: Says Katherine Martinko, senior editor at Treehugger, "The Impossible Burger takes top marks in Serious Eats' taste test, outperforming every other contender. It does a remarkable job at mimicking a real burger, with a 'bloody' appearance and chewy texture, using potato and wheat proteins, so it's a solid choice for people trying to eat less meat."

Dave’s Killer Breads: Powerseed Bread

What to Know: Dave's Killer Breads is the leading organic bread brand in the U.S. for good reason. Using non-GMO grains, it makes nutritious whole-grain loaves that have great taste and texture and are available in supermarkets everywhere. Its Powerseed bread has the lowest amount of sugar, with just 1 gram per slice. 

Why We Chose It: This company stands out for its remarkable "Second Chance" hiring program. One-third of its employees have a criminal record but are in need of a chance to work, earn money, and prove they've turned themselves around. Dave's Killer Breads makes that possible for many Americans—and that could very well be the next best thing to sliced bread.

Ripple Plant-Based Milk

What to Know: There are many plant-based milks out there, but Ripple's pea-based milk is one of the creamiest and most delicious. Created by the founders of Method home cleaning products, Ripple milk is made from yellow split peas, which is a much more sustainable crop to grow than nuts, which require large amounts of water.

Why We Chose It: Ripple has eight times the protein of almond milk, half the sugar of dairy milk, and 50% more bioavailable calcium than regular milk. At the same time, it delivers a creamy texture and taste that Breyer says "doesn't taste like cardboard or gamey dog! Its flavor and eco accolades make it my go-to plant-based milk." You can’t go wrong with that. 

Best Condiments

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Trade Street Jam Co.'s Plum + Rose Jam

What to Know: This plum and rose jam is special. It's handmade in small batches by a woman-owned minority business based in Brooklyn, NY. Free from preservatives, the jam is runnier than what you'd get at the supermarket, but it's supremely flavorful and versatile for so many things. We love the plastic-free packaging and reusable glass jars that it comes in.

Why We Chose It: "Longtime stan of Trade Street Jam Co. here!" gushes Koman. "Everything they produce is delightfully clean and delicious and it all tastes local, whatever that means to you! Their canning process is very intentional—glass, reusable, and very shelf-stable only—and there’s not too much of each batch of jam they make, so I’m always tempted to order my favorite flavor when I see it. I particularly love to give Trade Street Jam Co. products; you really can’t go wrong."

Shaquanda Will Feed You's Hot Pepper Sauce

What to Know: Hot sauce is a must-have in every kitchen, adding zip and zing to food, and Shaquanda's handcrafted sauce is a superb option. According to Serious Eats, it is "New York's most fabulous hot sauce," named after Shaquanda Coco Mulatta, the drag persona of cook, performer and company owner Andre Springer, who pays tribute to his family's Barbadian roots with his seasonally-driven recipes. This is a favorite amongst a number of hot-sauce-loving staff here!

Why We Chose It: "I had the good fortune earlier this year to work with Andre Springer, the creator of these fun and flavorful small-batch hot sauces, on a couple hot sauce–spiked burger recipes as part of our parent company's Pride celebrations," says Gritzer. "Those recipes were initially commissioned as part of the company's internal festivities, but we liked them so much we published them on the site as well."

Soom Foods Organic Tahini

What to Know: Tahini usually separates, but this fabulous brand does not. It remains smooth and creamy, which makes it easy to use for a range of recipes (so much more than just hummus!). Tahini is made from ground-up sesame seeds (in this case sourced from Ethiopia) and is a Middle Eastern pantry staple that’s slowly making inroads into North American kitchens—but not fast enough, in our opinion!

Why We Chose It: Martinko writes for Treehugger that sesame is an impressively sustainable crop to grow. “It requires 800 gallons less water per pound to produce than almonds and does not require specialized harvesting equipment, making it accessible to small-scale farmers. It's a versatile product that's a great substitute for other nut butters and oils.” Try it in baking or vegan mac ‘n cheese and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Amagansett Sea Salt Company's 100% Pure Sea Salt

What to Know: Sea salt is undeniably sustainable. This is a super fancy salt, favored by some of the world's best chefs, but a few crystals go a long way—and will elevate your meals to a gourmet level with their flavor and texture. The company says it collects Atlantic seawater bucket by bucket and uses traditional open-air salt pans to evaporate the water. "We do not boil or oven-dry seawater, nor trap the forming crystals in a factory building or greenhouse. We use no anti-caking agents, bleaching additives, or other chemical additions."

Why We Chose It: "When I read that Daniel Humm, the chef-owner of Eleven Madison Park, said that 'Amagansett Sea Salt is the only finishing salt you will find in our kitchen,' I had to know more," explains Breyer. "I was (and remain) fascinated by the process they use to harvest the salt, and even more fascinated by what a beautiful and delicious product this is."

Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup

What to Know: Ketchup is typically loaded with sugar, but Primal Kitchen's version is not. Somehow it manages to retain a delicious, rich tomatoey flavor that's deepened by the addition of balsamic vinegar, garlic, onion, and other spices.

Why We Chose It: Organic, non-GMO, and unsweetened, this ketchup has a super short ingredient list with nothing you wouldn't have in your own kitchen. It comes in glass bottles and is also vegan (not all brands of ketchup are). This ketchup is regularly mentioned in Treehugger round-ups and recipes calling for ketchup and for good reason: It tastes great!

Best Eco Cookbooks

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"Sweet Potato Soul"

What to Know: Southern cuisine is known for many meat-rich dishes that vegans and vegetarians are unable to enjoy, but cookbook author Jenné Claiborne has now made those accessible once again to plant-based eaters in "Sweet Potato Soul." As a chef, she has spent years developing and tweaking vegan recipes to make them just as mouthwateringly delicious as the Southern soul food originals on which they're based.

Why We Chose It: "This is a fabulous cookbook not only for its plant-based southern recipes—hello, vegan biscuits and jackfruit mbalaya—but also for the wealth of plant-forward practical information from pantry staples to produce tips," says Breyer. "Jenné Claiborne's passion and knowledge are evident throughout the book, which it is a treat to read and cook from."

"The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook"

What to Know:The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook” is the debut cookbook from plant-based food blogger Nisha Vora, whose hugely popular blog Rainbow Plant Life has delighted (and fed) countless vegans for years. This book focuses on using an Instant Pot to prepare meals, which makes food prep easier and more efficient for many home cooks.

Why We Chose It: Martinko loves her Instant Pot for the simple fact that you can “set it and forget it”—a boon for any busy working parent. The recipes in this book come highly reviewed by thousands of home cooks for their deliciousness, beauty, and widespread appeal to all eaters, whether they’re vegan or not.

"The Drunken Botanist"

What to Know: Breathe new life into your cocktail game with "The Drunken Botanist," the bestselling book by Amy Stewart. It features recipes and tips for gardening and growing many of the ingredients you can use to make your own infused alcohol and mixed drinks. The only problem, as several commenters point out, is that you can hardly read a chapter without reaching for a drink yourself!

Why We Chose It: "This book is so great," says Breyer. "It's like the magical intersection of botany, history, gardening, and booze! I love that it has everything from etymology lessons to gardening tips to cocktail recipes."

"Cooking With Scraps"

What to Know: Instead of throwing away the food scraps that typically end up on cutting boards or down the drain, cookbook author Lindsay-Jean Hard wants you to put them to good use. In "Cooking With Scraps" her beautifully photographed recipes show home cooks how to transform the usually unwanted parts of food into tasty dishes.

Why We Chose It: An estimated 40% of food grown for human consumption goes to waste in the U.S., so we at Treehugger support any efforts to reduce that amount. As Ramsdell explains, "'Cooking with Scraps' makes eliminating food waste ingenious and delicious. Peels, stems, skins, seeds, and ends are treated with a lot of respect in this book."

"Optimistic Cocktails"

What to Know: This digital book of cocktail recipes and solutions was created by New York bartender and sustainability expert Claire Sprouse, who gathered tips and tricks from bartenders around the U.S. on how they fight food and drink waste on the job. It then teaches you how to do the same at home.

Why We Chose It: Reynolds says, “This online, downloadable book (no paper!) features zero waste cocktail recipes from sustainably-minded bartenders around the U.S. They consist of wildly imaginative recipes that can transform an old banana peel into a delicious cinnamon syrup or teach you (non-vegans) how to fat-wash a bourbon with the leftover juice from a roasted chicken dinner."

Best Bar and Kitchen Tools

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Stargazer Cast Iron Skillet

What to Know: Cast iron pans are a great alternative to non-stick, as they offer a similarly smooth cooking surface minus the concerns associated with non-stick surfaces. Cast iron is extremely long-lasting and highly versatile, which means less consumption and clutter. Stargazer's cast iron skillet is made in the U.S. and backed by a lifetime warranty. This is a fairly lightweight pan with a handle that doesn't heat up and a drip-free rim for easy pouring.

Why We Chose It: We love this pan! When The Spruce Eats tested a dozen cast iron pans, the Stargazer snapped up first place. “This stunning, reliable pan outperformed all the rest in its heating and nonstick abilities and maneuverability,” notes food and drink review editor, Collier Sutter. "This pan impressed us with its amazing browning and nonstick abilities, acing tests where many other pans failed. Plus, it has a great design and was easy for all of our lab testers to maneuver and lift,” added Julia Warren, VP of commerce.

Dona Rosa x Masienda Tortilla Press

What to Know: If you've been wanting a tortilla press that turns out consistently smooth and uniform tortillas, look no further. This special press, designed by a Oaxacan market seller named Dona Rosa and imported to the U.S. by Masienda, is "built like a tank” and should last a lifetime.

Why We Chose It: As Breyer says, "I have used a number of tortilla presses in my life, but nothing compares to the Doña Rosa x Masienda version. It's easy to use and is giving us the best homemade tortillas to date. I like that it's especially sturdy and means I can enjoy homemade, package-free tortillas from hereon out. Bonus points for looking great."

Classic Easy Pour Growler

What to Know: Refillables for the win! Since the most sustainable packaging is no packaging at all, a refillable growler is a superb way to get one’s beer from point A to point B. The Stanley Classic Easy Pour Growler is an especially sturdy one that comes with a lifetime warranty.

Why We Chose It: Not only did Liquor.com pick this growler as one of their favorites, but our own Reynolds loves it as well. “My beer-geek dad swears by this growler! He takes it to his favorite Austin breweries to fill up, and his hoppy IPAs stay fresh for days. It's also leakproof with double-wall vacuum insulation, both imperative when you're going on a long, hot road trip or camping.”

La Cocotte Cast Iron Dutch Oven

What to Know: The 4-quart Staub La Cocotte Cast Iron Dutch Oven is perpetually hot on our gift lists, and for good reason. Everyone needs a Dutch oven! A lifelong, versatile pot like this encourages home cooking and this one is so pretty it begs to be left out on the stove for all to admire.

Why We Chose It: La Cocotte’s little sister, the 1.5-quart Petite Dutch Oven, made it to our best Dutch ovens round-up, but whatever size fits your needs is perfect. As Gritzer explains, “At Serious Eats we prioritize function over form, but it's hard to resist a Staub Dutch oven's gorgeous look. Even better, they're great pots—an heirloom to last a lifetime (or more).”

Infused Liquor Kit

What to Know: Made of borosilicate glass (the sturdy glass that labware is made of) with aluminum pour spouts, these nifty jars from Aged and Infused are just the thing for any home mixologist. They come as kits with interesting combinations of dehydrated fruits and botanicals and allow for lovely libations straight from your kitchen.  

Why We Chose It: “These are a great way to break into infusing your own liquor,” says Breyer. “Of course you could just use jars or bottles you have on hand, but I like the borosilicate here and the spouts make these bar-cart ready.” Breyer adds that these jars and infused liquor, in general, are a wonderful way to use up food items that might otherwise go to waste, like vanilla pods, herb stems, and citrus peels.

Best Subscriptions & Meal Delivery

Animated illustration for sustainable food and drink awards

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

Trashless Zero Waste Groceries

What to Know: Trashless is an Austin-based company that has reimagined grocery shopping—and it's better than you ever thought possible. You can buy local, seasonal groceries, as well as numerous pantry staples, all in reusable containers, and then reorder with a simple barcode scan using a smartphone. Items are delivered to your door and empty containers are collected for refilling.

Why We Chose It: Treehugger reader Ruth Y. nominated Trashless and speaks highly of the company. “Everything is delivered in glass and is returned to the company for reuse. I get milk and eggs (delivered in reusable silicone containers), and veggies come in cloth or brown paper bags. There are meal delivery kits as well, all in reusable, mostly glass, containers.” We love this as a model and hope to see it replicated elsewhere.

Imperfect Foods

What to Know: Imperfect Foods is a grocery delivery box unlike any other. It's stuffed full of tasty food (chosen by you) that would have otherwise been rejected by a supermarket for reasons that range from cosmetic imperfections to incorrect codes and more.

Why We Chose It: "Imperfect Foods has long felt like a pioneer in this space," says Koman. "I’ve always loved that you can skip weeks fairly last-minute (they’d also prefer you not waste!) and that everything that shows up at your door is something that otherwise likely would have gone to waste. And doesn’t that make it all taste so much better?"

Housemade Meal Kits

What to Know: Housemade is an innovative new meal kit company created by fast-casual restaurant chain Just Salad that eliminates single-use plastic containers. By using reusable containers, it decreases packaging by 90%. Food comes in reusable containers, which are delivered by bicycle. Foods with natural packaging, like whole lemons and bananas, are spared the superfluous layers of plastic.

Why We Chose It: We at Treehugger have long felt uncomfortable with the excessive packaging that can come with conventional meal kits, but Housemade (and the others here) show it can be done differently—and well. As Lloyd Alter, Treehugger design editor, puts it, "We are not enamored by the meal kit idea, but Housemade has definitely made it less bad."

Sunbasket Meal Kits

What to Know: This meal kit company focuses on sourcing ingredients from top-notch suppliers. It uses organic produce, eggs, milk, and yogurt; buys meat that has not been raised with antibiotics or hormones; and only uses fish that's been recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

Why We Chose It: Says Ramsdell, "This meal delivery service goes to great lengths to use natural fiber packaging, from paper containers and paper bags to denim fiber cold packs. The recipes are easy and delicious." Sign us up!

Best Non-Profits

Animated illustration for sustainable food and drink awards

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Non-profits below

City Harvest

What to Know: City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization. It collects surplus food from restaurants and retailers around the city and redistributes it to soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community partners to help feed the 1.5 million New Yorkers who struggle to put meals on their tables.

Why We Chose It: "This non-profit was founded in 1982 and does double-duty as a charity—not only feeding hungry individuals but diverting valuable food from going to waste, where it breaks down and releases Earth-warming greenhouse gases," says Breyer. "Long before food waste was the cause du jour, City Harvest was focusing on it as a way to help alleviate hunger."

Food Tank

What to Know: Food Tank is a think tank that was created to help fix the world's broken food system. Through scientific and academic research, as well as innovative work on the ground, Food Tank strives to educate people and advocate for best practices that can help tackle food insecurity, obesity, climate change, unemployment, and more. 

Why We Chose It: This organization represents hope in the world of food production and agriculture. It shows that there are better ways of doing things, that seemingly lofty goals are attainable, that together we can effect real change and ensure that everyone eats well.

Reducetarian Foundation

What to Know: The Reducetarian Foundation advocates for eating less meat, which it considers a more realistic goal than converting people to full-time vegetarianism or veganism. This approach is good for both animals and the environment, though it can be controversial. The Foundation persists in talking about this topic, through annual conferences and a new documentary called "Meat Me Halfway,” created by founder Brian Kateman.

Why We Chose It: "This Foundation has become a respected voice in the sustainable food sphere over recent years," says Martinko. "It does a good job at moderating tough conversations and proposing reasonable solutions to the problems of excessive meat consumption and the associated health and environmental problems. We need more level-headed organizations like this one."

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

What to Know: Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is a non-profit headquartered in New York City that operates in 16 cities. It collects surplus food from restaurants, hotels, catering companies, and more, and redistributes it to shelters and soup kitchens located nearby. Volunteers help to transport the food.

Why We Chose It: This effort does wonders for disadvantaged communities, ensuring they eat well, while also helping to reduce the enormous quantity of food that goes to waste every year—an estimated 1,160 pounds per American family of four. Donors do not have to commit to a regular schedule, but rather inform the non-profit when they have something for pickup.

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