Earth-Friendly Food. We all want to support our planet’s future and one way we can do this daily is by eating sustainably; this guide contains simple and super-effective methods to help you achieve environmentally considered eating.
I don’t know about you but I am always on the look out for ways to reduce my carbon footprint and make sure I am trying to do the best I can for our planet. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near saintly, but since having children and educating them on the impact human life is having on the environment, my eyes are continuously being opened to the extent of the damage we are causing. If we can alter and be more conscious of the things we all do daily, such as eat, we can become more environmentally considerate whilst making a huge difference. If everybody consciously changed the way they approached food shopping, for example, we could have a positive effect on landfills, ocean hygiene, recycling, the ozone, deforestation, local economy, our health, etc.
We all need take a moment to ask ourselves how we can do our part to cook and eat in a way that will slow down the deterioration of the planet, rather than speed it up. You’ll be happy to know you don’t have to do anything extreme or life-changing in order to eat more sustainably; there are many ways in which we can ensure that our presence here has less of a negative impact, rhythms to fall into which will reduce our carbon footprint whilst providing us with a super healthy diet and giving us our eco-wings!
Packaging: Make yourself allergic to the idea of food that comes in packaging and you’re on the right path. Imagine how much of it ends up in landfill, in the ocean or being burnt and releasing toxic gases into the environment. Fruit and vegetables do not come in packaging as generally they have their own kindly provided by Mother Nature. Bring your own shopping bags, boxes and fruit bags for weighing every time you need to buy food and you’re already saving a huge amount of plastic, paper, styrofoam, cling film, aluminium foil ending up in the wrong places. Try your best to avoid anything that has an unnecessary package. Don’t go for the individually wrapped items. Snacks don’t need to have wrappers, we can pre-make food and package it in our own containers, take a piece of fruit, homemade muesli bars, etc. Make your own staples such as bread, sauces, spreads, granola, etc. sometimes the best option is not necessarily the easiest or quickest one. If we stop committing to convenience and change the way we perceive things, we can begin to congratulate ourselves on our dedication.
Bulk Buy: One excellent way to cut down on packaging is to buy in bulk, bring your own containers (glass and metal if possible) and stock up on dry goods, oils, nuts, seeds, cereals, beans, pulses, legumes, rice, pasta, etc. for the week or month. This also cuts down on the number of times you need to head to the shops.
Don’t eat processed food: A simple life-change, easy for us to say, not as easy to achieve. Once you begin to look into it so much of our diet has processed elements. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts consume a minimal crop acreage at the moment, while a large percent is devoted to cereal grains that are harvested for packaged foods and edible oils, both of which have very low nutritional value. The result is that we’re unknowingly eating a lot of food that’s made mostly from soy and corn, both of which waste a lot of resources to make and take over land that could instead be used for fresh produce. To really avoid this you’ve got to eat a locally grown, seasonal, plant-based diet. Incorporate bulk bought pulses, grains and legumes. The less processed and packaged foods we all eat, the less demand there will be for such products, and hopefully we’ll start to see a lot more land set aside for growing fresh produce that’s going to improve our health.
Seasonal & local foods: We all need to take the responsibility to eat seasonally. This would change the way the market spins if we all contributed to this. Apples are not in season, so we don’t have apples. Simples. It also teaches a lot about the way food is grown naturally. You’ll also find that you’ll be choosing local produce, thus reducing your carbon footprint even further, as well as the more economical option. Seasonal produce doesn’t require as much artificial help in growing, so you’ll find less pesticides and chemicals, and less human assistance in general. If you’re not sure what’s in season at the moment, take some time to go to your local farmer’s market. There you’ll see first hand what’s seasonal, and you’ll also support local businesses at the same time.
Plant-based diet – Eating vegan as little as one day a week does more for the planet than eating locally sourced foods seven days a week. Going vegan means you cut your carbon footprint in half, since it takes an immense amount of natural resources to mass produce animal products. Even if you don’t commit to being a full time vegan you could make a big difference by eating only plant-based meals just a few days a week. By cutting down on your consumption of animal products, you leave more fresh water available to the planet, you reduce the amount of methane pumped into the atmosphere, and you save precious land from being taken over for animal agriculture. If we all made some minor adjustments to our diet, we could make a pretty big difference. There are plenty of recipes and resources these days to be able to source vegan or plant-based meal ideas. Some have become staple favourites in our household and not for environmental purposes, just because they’re totally delicious! You’re simultaneously doing a big favour to your health by this alteration in diet as a plant-based one is conducive to a super-healthy body and mind.
Fair trade & Organic: These are not just buzz words, it is important to make sure that your money is going towards ethically run organisations that have the environment and humanity in mind; not just profit. It is becoming increasingly difficult to determine whether products are what they claim to be, so you need to look for official stamps and seals of approval when purchasing organic or fair trade. In supporting these we are encouraging better conditions for workers, less pesticides and chemicals being poured all over our foods and earth, and that our food is grown and sourced ethically.
Compost: Wasting food is a big no-no in most homes yet, when we do, the scraps generally get thrown into the bin alongside other waste. These days more and more people are leaning towards making their own compost; a fantastic way to get rid of your leftovers and produce some fertile soil in the process. Decrease your carbon footprint and assist in regeneration! If you don’t have the space or time for making your own there are plenty of places you can deposit your food waste nowadays, get in touch with your local council to find out where and when. You’ll be giving less for your locality to have to manage and producing something beneficial in the process.
Grow your own: Time and space often deter people from growing their own food plants but you can actually achieve a great deal in the smallest of spaces and with actually very little effort, and this is the ultimate way to reduce your carbon footprint,. The rewards are immense and you can incorporate your compost into the process. This is the best way to build a more sustainable relationship with food. If you have little space you could try growing herbs or other plants that can yield crops from a single pot or window box, or join a community garden. Growing your own reduces how much food mileage you imprint on the earth, as well as how many resources are used to get the food to your table.
Avoid single-use plastic: This relates especially to drinking water bottles which have become such a normal part of worldwide every day life; the environmental repercussions are horrendous. Get yourself a refillable bottle – preferably aluminium – and bring your own. You can even get self-filtering bottles now which filter any tap water and make sure it is potable. They may set you back a bit more, but in the long run having avoided the cost of buying individual bottles on a regular basis you may end up saving a fair amount. Incorporate the same mentality when it comes to grabbing a coffee or take away drink and bring your own reusable cup.
Meat responsibly: If you’re going to eat meat on a regular basis then it is essential to make sure that it is responsibly-raised. Not only for your own personal health but the commercial meat production problem is one of the worst things our environment has to suffer. Industrial farm-raised cows, pigs and chickens are brought up in tight and confined quarters, are often pumped full of antibiotics or hormones and most of the time eat diets that are consistent with what’s cheapest rather than what’s best for them. If you choose to purchase solely responsibly-raised meat, you cast your vote for the farmers that are doing things with an earth-conscious and animal rights conscious attitude. And, you know the added bonus? The meat tastes so much better and is so much better for you. The same goes for fish, you need to opt for those that are either farmed or caught sustainably; this is very tricky as there is so much conflicting information, but look into local and regional fishing and find out what your best options are in your area.
Plan ahead: If you plan your meals ahead of time you can reduce the number of visits to the shops thus reducing your carbon footprint. Also cooking larger batches of the same meal and freezing portions for future dinners can save on energy and avoid any waste. Win, win.
What you choose to put on your plate can make the most powerful impact on your personal environmental footprint. Let’s make the changes now.
Featured image: Green Trees From Above by Thomas Lambert, Food Basket by Markus Spiske and Tomatoes by Dan Gold – all on Unsplash
Ethical & Sustainable Eating – Online Diploma Course
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we offer an Ethical & Sustainable Eating Course which includes a comprehensive introduction to modern day diets, looks at how we can all make valuable changes in the way we think about food, our appreciation of food, and how we can adapt our current food practices.
This distance learning diploma course of 10 lessons provides many comprehensive definitions, including the term ‘permaculture’ and the concepts behind designing sustainable, efficient and productive ways of living. Other popular topics discussed include meat consumption and humane farming systems, reducing our meat intake, growing-your-own, creating a sustainable kitchen, and sustainable recipes.