Featured Image: Jonathan Cutrer, Pepperoni Pizza
Pizza doesn’t seem like much of an interesting dish when most people think about it, being that it is seen, sold, and smelled almost everywhere on the earth. For me and my family, pizza is a part of life. My father has a history of working as a driver for Domino’s, and I actually used to work for Domino’s as a Customer Service Representative (CSR) for about a year before I came to Georgia Tech. As a worker at Domino’s I have tried and tested many different types of pizzas. My family and I have created many different types of pizzas from the produce of groceries. One day in order to create a healthier alternative to the cuisine that we were so used to, my mom created a pizza made out of cauliflower. It seemed to be the obviously healthier option, but was it sustainable. That is what I aim to figure out now. Although we thought that these pizzas were probably healthier and therefore better all-around, they might not have been as good for ourselves or the environment as we thought.
Regular pepperoni pizzas that my family have made call for the ingredients: tomato paste, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, salt, pepper, all-purpose flour, pizza crust yeast, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese. These ingredients bring shame to the title of “sustainable”. Pepperoni is made of both beef and pork which are two of the five greatest carbonating foods. Although cheese is technically vegetarian, it does bring a large carbon footprint. According to the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, there are about 2.5 pounds of CO2 emissions per serving of cheese. Although that is minuscule compared to beef standing in at a whopping 6.5 pounds of CO2 emissions per serving, it still towers over many other foods such as pork (surprisingly), weighing in at about 1.7 pounds per serving, and rice, at about .25 pounds of emissions per serving. The tomato paste is interesting because it is only tomatoes that have been cooked down with the seeds and skins strained out. Of all the main ingredients, fruits and grains are the most sustainable being that they have the least percentage of greenhouse gas emissions from average food consumption. Despite these two ingredients being more sustainable than the others, the pepperoni pizza has much to consider if it wants to be considered “sustainable”.
In order to make the pepperoni pizza more sustainable, my family and I considered an online recipe that took advantage of cauliflower and other substitutes. This recipe takes into account the ingredients: cauliflower, tomato paste, cheese, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. Not only is cauliflower more sustainable ecologically (plants only account for 4.9% of all greenhouse gasses), it also touches on all three aspects of sustainability including the equitable and economic standpoints. The pizza is more equitable because of the fact that instead of traveling to a grocery store one might be able to grow cauliflower in their own backyard. This allows for the saving of money when you don’t have to buy your produce but grow it locally. Regular cheese pizza is already vegetarian, so it would be easy to just remove pepperoni from the recipe altogether. However, if someone wanted to be stubborn there are meatless veggie pepperoni slices on sale. Cheese will not be taken from the recipe, however, because it is very difficult to do so and will the dish would be difficult to excuse as pizza.
My family and I goes all the way back to a quote from Wendell Barry that states that “one of the most important aspects of the environmental movement is that it brings us not just to another public crisis, but to a crisis of the protest movement itself. For the environmental crisis should make it dramatically clear… that there is no public crisis that is not also private. In layman’s terms, Barry is explaining that we can’t just publicly speak and say that everyone should be more sustainable in public. In the privacy of our house we must fight to be sustainable and make the world a better place. We can’t just sit around and think about a world that is more sustainable. We must rise to the occasion, seize the day, and create the world we want to live in. Even though we haven’t cut out cheese from the pizza, the pizza has become much more sustainable in and of itself which, in the long run, accounts for a more sustainable world. One pizza at a time.
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
- 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes pizza crust yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 (6 ounce) package HORMEL® Pepperoni
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, or more to taste
- For sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients with 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl; set aside for flavors to develop while making crust. Freeze remaining paste .
- For crusts: Combine 2 cups of flour with the dry yeast, sugar and salt. Add the water and oil and mix until well blended (about 1 minute). Gradually add enough remaining flour slowly, until a soft, sticky dough ball is formed.
- Knead for about 4 minutes, on a floured surface, until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour, if needed.
- Divide dough in half. Pat each half (with floured hands) into a 12-inch greased pizza pan OR roll dough to fit pans.
- For pizzas: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Top crusts with sauce, pepperoni and cheese.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until crusts are browned and cheese is bubbly. For best results, rotate pizza pans between top and bottom oven racks halfway through baking.
- 1 head cauliflower, stalk removed
- 1 pack of veggie pepperoni
- 1/3 cup of oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- For sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients with 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl; set aside for flavors to develop while making crust. Freeze remaining paste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Break the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until fine. Steam in a steamer basket and drain well. (I like to put it on a towel to get all the moisture out.) Let cool.
- In a bowl, combine the cauliflower with the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, garlic powder and eggs. Transfer to the center of the baking sheet and spread into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Add desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Berry, Wendell. A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural and Agricultural. Counterpoint Press, 2012.
“Carbon Footprint Factsheet.” Wind Energy Factsheet | Center for Sustainable Systems, css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet.
“Cauliflower Pizza Crust.” Food Network, Food Network, www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/katie-lee/cauliflower-pizza-crust-2651381.
Delany, Alex. “Give Tomato Paste the Respect It Deserves.” Bon Appetit, Bon Appétit, 22 Feb. 2018, www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-tomato-paste.
Sayles, Fatima Melicor, and Priscila Sousa. “Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Recipe.” Allrecipes, 14 Dec. 2014, www.allrecipes.com/recipe/240376/homemade-pepperoni-pizza/.