The trend towards eating and living sustainably is one that I whole heartedly support and one that I hope is more than just a fad and becomes a way of life for many. That doesn’t mean I think that everyone should grow or raise their own food, but I do feel that we all can find at least some practices that we can change to help support our own health while supporting the environment and food supply for generations to come.
Here are a few ideas of things we all can do to help support sustainability:
- Reduce your plastic – bringing your own reusable bags when food shopping is something that many have already started. For those who haven’t already, this can make a big difference. Avoid buying pre-packaged produce when possible and instead purchase loose. You can bring your own reusable fruit and veggie bags (or not use any bags and keep loose if large) instead of using grocery plastic produce bags. Many retailers have been charging for plastic bags with others stopping offering them
- Shop local and in season – this can be harder during the winter months in colder climate countries but try to purchase locally produced foods available during each different season. You can also purchase local in the summer and freeze for the winter months. For example, end of season local berries may be on sale and can be frozen for use in smoothies, in desserts or on hot cereals throughout the year. Shopping local can include your local farmers’ market, butcher, baker or grocer.
- Grow your own food – the days of requiring a large plot of land to have a fruit and veggie garden are no longer. Yes, there are still some foods that require larger gardens, but there are now many options for smaller gardens that can still have an impact. One new trend that many have had success with is growing your own herbs and microgreens indoors. These can be used all year round. All you need is a pot, seeds, a sunny spot and time. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and peas are plants that can grow very well in a large pot on a balcony or by a large, sunny window. More cities are also creating urban gardens where you can find plots to rent. These communal gardens not only offer a place to grow a larger amount of produce but also a community to share seeds, produce and knowledge.
- Cut down on foods waste – reducing your food waste can be one of the easiest ways for many to help support our food system. Simply freezing fresh foods before they go off or going to the fridge to use up leftovers instead of reaching for something new can have a big impact on reducing our food waste. Creating a meal plan can also help reduce food waste by coming up with creative ways to use leftovers. For example – Cooking a roast chicken for dinner? Plan for chicken tacos with the leftovers for the next day. Having a meal plan and grocery list also reduces impulse purchasing items you may not need and may go to waste later. When you do have unavoidable food waste, compost whatever you can in your city green bin or in a backyard personal composter.
- Eat more variety – eating various types of foods requires food producers to grow or raise a larger variety of types of foods, which is better for the overall health of the environment. A large farming plot that grows only one type of food year after year may require more nutrients to be added back the soil by farmers than a plot that produces a larger variety of foods and can be rotated with various crops. Eating a variety of foods can also have the added bonus of being a very healthy practice.
Remember, you do not have to take on all the above ideas. Starting small with even one or two will have an impact.
This list is certainly not a complete list as there can be many ways to be more sustainable when looking at what and how we eat. If you have a sustainable practice not discussed above, please let me know in the comment section.
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Disclaimer: The above information is intended for general public education and is not intended to be dietetic advice in any respect or to any person. Use of this information does not make any person a direct client of Tanya Brown,RD for any purpose and no such relationship will exist unless a formal client relationship has been entered into. Please consult your Doctor or a Registered Dietitian for individual recommendations prior to making any dietary or lifestyle changes.