Sustainability + Slow-Cooker Carnitas

This month, I’ve been thinking about the word “sustainability.” Yes, sustainable means what you think it means. Merriam-Webster defines it as “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed.”

But it is also  comprised of two separate words: “sustain” and “able” –something that is able to sustain.


Ok, so maybe this isn’t a massive revelation, but before you roll your eyes, let’s pursue this idea. Sustainability is a big part of my community’s vernacular, and we’ve ignored viewing it through this “able to sustain” lens.

When I think about being able to sustain at a micro-level for me, I think about:

  •         Can I sustain my budget with a recent splurge on You guys, I HAD to get it.
  •         Can I sustain my soul with an upcoming vacation? I dream about Cape Cod all year, I can’t wait to go!
  •         Can I sustain my partner with my support and love? You’re totally rocking it, I’m so proud!
  •         Can I sustain my energy level through my next workout with the lunch I just had? Better bring a snack just in case.
  •         Can I sustain my community, my environment, and the planet with my actions? Time to restart my endless quest to be more considerate, drive less aggressively, and stop drinking bottled water.


I love looking at sustainability this way. Beyond the ideas it brings up for me, it broadens the concept, allowing room for everyone to make sustainability symbolic of what they need. It encompasses the balance of competing interests always at play – wants and desires versus personal responsibility.

Alright, let’s not go off the deep end here…back to food and recipes. What recipe encompasses this idea? What dish exemplifies my desire to sustain both me and my environment?

I picked this delicious carnitas recipe because although my frequent vegetarian lunches may suggest otherwise, I do eat meat. I am currently on a journey to find a way to eat meat that sustains me, sustains the businesses I want to support, and sustains the environment all at the same time. I believe that the way to do this is to eat better-sourced, better-quality meat less often. And when I get that meat, I put it to good use in a flavorful and easy recipe like this one!

           Carnitas1 + featured                                                                                                      

Slow-Cooker Carnitas
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 4-pound boneless pork shoulder roast, also known as Boston butt (I used pork from Primal Pastures)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  1. Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.
  2. Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks.
  3. Spread shredded pork into a 9x13 baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.



About the Author:

Jessica Beth Levhofer blogs at about navigating food choices in Southern California with a focus on environmentally friendly, just, and sustainable food. Her website also profiles her aerial silks training and her photography. Jessica can be reached at

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