One of the easiest ways we have found to live more sustainably is to reduce our carbon footprint. Because the production of food has such a large carbon footprint, learning to eat sustainably is a great way to limit your impact on the earth. Here are some things we have learned that you too can put into practice in your household.
Millions of tones of food are thrown away in western countries every year. In the UK, it has been calculated that 330 kg of food is thrown out by every household each year. This rotting food accounts for 20 million tones of carbon dioxide gas each year. It is a similar story in other large, wealthy nations worldwide.
To reduce food waste, there are several simple strategies that you can employ:
- Learn creative ways to use left-overs to make delicious and nutritious meals.
- Store food correctly to reduce the amount of spoilage.
- Shop wisely; only buy what you know can be consumed by your family within its use-by date.
- Plan your menu and only buy what you need.
- Learn new ways of preserving food for later use.
The best and freshest produce is purchased locally, from farmers’ markets, farm gates, CSA’s, roadside stalls or a friendly neighbor. Locally grown food has greatly reduced food miles and doesn’t need to be specially treated to have a long shelf life. A lot of locally produced food is also grown organically, so the food is better for you and the environment.
Choose packaged products that are produced as close to where you live as possible to limit the miles it has to travel. Support local industries wherever possible.
Eat Organic Food
Organic farming is a sustainable method of growing crops and grazing meat animals without the use of toxic chemicals. Traditional farming methods have developed that use large quantities of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, which have been shown to be present in the food we eat. These toxic chemicals kill off the good bacteria and insects along with the pests. The soils become so degraded that large quantities of artificial fertilizers, many based on petroleum, need to be added to make crops grow. Often growth hormones are added to force the plants and animals to achieve marketable size more quickly. Food grown organically is sustainable, non-toxic and produces better quality food.
Eat What is in Season
We have come to expect to buy any type of fresh produce at any time of the year. This means that the food has to travel long distances to get to you, often from overseas. Varieties have to be selected that have a long shelf life to allow for the length of time between picking and purchase. Often quality and taste are sacrificed to obtain this long shelf life. By eating food that is in season, you are saving on storage and freight costs while eating the way nature intended.
Read Labels – know what you are eating
Educate yourself by reading the labels on food packaging. You might be surprised by what is actually in many packaged foods. We were not meant to eat artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, enhancers and more. There is still a lot to be learnt about what effect these substances are having on our health but medical research is showing that many are bad for us.
Grow your Own
Plant a vegetable garden to grow those foods that you can in your area. If you don’t have a garden, use pots on a balcony or sunny windowsill. I use pots and my garden does extremely well. Check out my harvest from this year by clicking here.
Remember, anything you grow is going to taste better and be more nutritious than anything you can buy in a store. Trade any surplus with neighbors or take it to a farmers’ market. You can’t grow everything you eat but every bit helps.
These tips have really helped us eat more sustainably and I hope they help you too. Start small and make a few changes at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Remember, every small step is helping you move towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
So, do you eat sustainably? What are some ways you have learned how to cut down your carbon footprint?