Every choice you make is either helping or harming the environment. Your individual impact is called your environmental footprint, and we should all be working to make our footprint as small as possible. Food is a big factor in this. From greenhouse gas emissions, to water and land use, to the resources required to get the food from the farm to your plate, there are many things to keep in mind as we try to reduce our environmental footprint. Below are some changes you can make today.
Eat Organic Selectively
Many of the eco-friendly food labeling has lost much of it’s punch. More companies are trying to earn those labels by changing as little of their processes as possible. Instead of simply filling up your grocery cart with organic products, do some research. For some products, such as whole grains, the environmental burden is not much changed between traditional and organic farming practices. With others, like fruits, there is a huge difference in the impact between the two growing methods.
Choose Seasonal Foods
This concept of having the whole array of produce available to us all the time is very new. Up until recently, people only had access to what was seasonal. There is a substantial environmental burden in forcing production of foods year round, or in shipping it by the truckload from countries where it is currently growing. Nobody needs to have berries year round. Eggs naturally lower or stop production in the winter months. With a slight readjustment of expectations on our part, we can reduce this burden.
Reduce Or Eliminate Waste
Between packaging waste and actual food waste, we generate a lot of trash with our eating habits. Here is an area where small changes can make a big impact. Buy ingredients, rather than premade food items, at the grocery store, and buy them in bulk when it would not be wasteful for you to do so. Buy the option without packaging at all whenever possible – there are plenty of opportunities to do this with produce! Try never to throw food away. Past-peak vegetables can be tossed into a soup. Leftovers can be combined in many creative ways. Fruit that’s gone soft can be frozen to be used later in smoothies.
Food often has to cover thousands of miles to get from the farm to your grocery store. You can actively reduce fuel emissions, fuel consumption, and vehicle wear by simply sourcing your foods locally. Farmer’s markets carry a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, often grown sustainably. There’s always someone in any neighborhood who can provide fresh eggs. Buy your meat directly from the farmer, prioritizing those that raise their animals ethically in ways that help the environment.
Explore New Varieties
When possible, choose heirloom or artisanal varieties of produce. They are often not only beautiful to look at, but wonderful to taste. They encourage biodiversity – we don’t want to live in a world where every tomato and carrot is exactly the same variety! They are often hardier as well and contribute to overall crop resilience.
Buy Misshapen Food
Produce doesn’t sell well in grocery stores unless it is pretty and uniform. But nature doesn’t work like that, and literal tons of nutritious produce is thrown away each year because it is misshapen or discolored. Services like Imperfect Foods help bring that unwanted and misshapen food to you, reducing overall food waste and increasing your health. The food cost is discounted, as it would have otherwise been thrown away, and the savings quickly recoup the cost of the subscription fee. Read reviews about imperfect foods here