10 Tips to Green your Food Choices
Making some simple changes to your food buying habits and food choices can make a significant impact on the environment and your health. Every food purchase you make is a ‘vote’ on how and where you want your food to be supplied.
✔ Eat less meat – Reducing the number of animal products in your diet can prevent tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report in February of 2009 which concluded that livestock is responsible for 18% of our world global warming emissions. Yearly global meat production is projected to more than double from what it was at the turn of the century by 2050, which will only increase the associated global warming gases.
✔ When buying beef, look for organic and grass-fed – Organically raised beef will have significantly lower levels of antibiotics and should have no growth hormones. The raising of grass-fed cows has a much lower environmental impact than that of corn-fed cows.
✔ Buy local foods – Buying food produced locally has several positive effects on the environment and your health.
- Keeps local farmers working – Buying from a local farmer cuts out the middleman and keeps local farmers working. Investing in the local economy also helps ensure that future generations have access to local, flavorful, and abundant food.
- Reduces food transportation – Food transportation is one of the largest and fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. Some food items, which could be supplied locally, may travel thousands of miles to reach your supermarket.
- Provides more nutritious foods – Local food tastes better and is better for you. Produce loses nutrients quickly. Food grown locally was likely picked within the last few days versus the last few weeks or longer. Locally raised meat is typically organic and free from growth hormones and other artificial fillers.
✔ Buy your packaged food in bulk – Buying your packaged food in bulk will reduce the total amount of packaging. Buying in bulk is also usually cheaper than buying small quantities. However, be sure not to buy too much. If you are not able to eat all the food before its ‘best by’ date, this could result in spoilage or food waste.
✔ Buy FairTrade certified foods – The objective of the FairTrade Mark is to ensure that farmers and workers in developing countries receive a fair price for their products and that the conditions for the production and trade of a product are environmentally responsible. By buying food with the FairTrade mark, you are not only supporting farmers in developing countries, but you are also supporting sustainable farming practices.
✔ Make ocean-friendly seafood choices – Nearly 75% of the world’s fisheries are fished to capacity, or overfished. Our seafood choices have the power to make this situation worse or improve it. To avoid the ‘farm raised’ vs ‘wild caught’ question, which can get quite complicated, use a guide published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium at http://montereybayaquarium.com. The recommendation in their Seafood Selector considers the fishery, habitat, species, management, and several other factors to recommend the most sustainable choice.
✔ Before going to the store, plan ahead – Be sure to plan before going to the store to avoid multiple trips. Also, while creating your shopping list, be sure to do some research on the most sustainable options (so you don’t have to make a quick decision in the store).
✔ Take your own shopping bags – Be sure to take your own shopping bag to the store with you. Both plastic and paper bags have negative effects on the environment. Neither paper or plastic is more environmentally friendly than the other, so it is best not to use either. Try to find a durable, reusable shopping bag made from either recycled or natural materials.
✔ If you are not sure where the food is from, ask – Before buying food in a supermarket or in a restaurant, be sure to know where it comes from. There is a big difference in apples flown in from New Zealand than those raised locally. If it is not clearly marked, ask.
✔ Look for free-range poultry products – When poultry products are marked as free-range (eggs, chicken, duck, etc.), you will know that they were not raised in inhumane conditions.