Trail to Earth Day #15: Food for Thought — How to Eat Sustainably
April 18, 2020 — Whether in the grocery store or your own kitchen, every time you make a decision about food, you can have an affect on the food system.
And with the majority of food waste in the U.S. coming from households, you should not only think about what you bring into your kitchen, but also what goes out.
Eat less meat, more plants –Shifting toward plant-based diets and reducing meat consumption could significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report, “Less Beef, Less Carbon,” if all Americans cut just a quarter pound of beef a week from their diet, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road for a year. Another study estimated that if the U.S. cut animal product consumption by half, our food production would require 37 percent less water.
Start simple with a gradual change away from a meat-heavy diet. Adopt the popular concept of Meatless Mondays. Or substitute plant-based protein products. They are increasingly more available, more appealing and better tasting, and more in demand because of their health and animal welfare benefits.
Consider organic options. Beyond health and ethical concerns, organic farming reduces pollution, conserves water, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility and uses less energy. Farming without pesticides encourages healthy biodiversity and is better for nearby birds, animals and people who live close to farms.
Shop locally – By supporting local farmers, you’re getting the freshest, and in many cases the best organic foods available. Plus you’re helping the environment and saving the oil-hungry transportation cost of moving the food to your supermarket. Shopping at local farmers’ markets provides the opportunity to meet people in your community who produce the food you’re eating, and you can ask them about growing techniques or different ways to prepare it.
Eat seasonally – Food that is in season is generally grown closer to your home which means it didn’t have to travel a great distance to get there. The freshness and nutritional content is naturally preserved. And it’s tastier.
Research seafood options – Fish is a healthy option, but some species are over-fished and, at times, production is harmful to their marine environment. Taking the time to do a little research on your favorite types of fish, or ones you’ve never had before, will help you make decisions based on sustainable practices.
Grow your own – There’s nothing like bringing a homegrown head of lettuce or sprig of basil to your table. If a backyard garden isn’t possible, search for a community garden — it’s also a great way to meet and learn from others who share the same interest.
Reduce food waste – Meal planning, buying only the groceries you need and having a plan for creative ways to use leftovers will prevent unnecessary food waste. Find out if your community offers green waste pick-up. Learn about the different types of composting to find a method that might work best for you. Read here about one type of composting we shared recently. — Liza Hickey
Rock for vegans …