- Kelsey Garmon, RD
Eating for a Healthier Planet
Sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthful to our environment and our bodies. The concept of sustainability is applied toward the production of food or other plant or animal products using farming techniques and practices that help to conserve natural resources and have minimal impact on the environment. Sustainable agriculture enables us to produce healthful food without compromising future generations' ability to do the same. Unless you're a farmer, the best way to support the benefits of sustainable farming is to eat sustainably
It’s been estimated that Americans throw away 90 billion pounds of food each year either at home or when eating out. And that amount doesn’t even include the food that goes uneaten at the grocery store or the crops that are left in farmers’ fields. Not all food that is wasted can be saved and eaten, but it’s been proven that a lot of food waste could be prevented, especially at home.
Below are some tips to help you get started living a more sustainable lifestyle:
Grow something. Even if you live in a space with limited outdoor access, try planting herbs or small vegetable plants indoors, and plan meals that utilize your home-grown items.
Shop locally and Eat seasonally. When possible, focus on consuming foods that are available in season where you live. When you purchase foods that were grown locally, it cuts down on the amount of fuel needed to ship the food to your market, while also giving you an opportunity to connect with local growers and learn about their sustainable farming methods.
· Visit this site to learn about what’s in season: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/
Drink Water. Liquids are some of the heaviest items to ship around the country and lots of fossil fuel is needed to tote them. Instead of purchasing bottled beverages, use a refillable bottle and fill it with water from the tap or filter.
Retool your grocery list. Think bulk foods, more minimally processed foods and more plant-based meals. Doing so translates into less packaging and waste and less energy and water used to produce certain foods.
Master the Shelf Life of Foods. Many foods and drinks purchased at the grocery store include a date, which indicates when it should be used or sold by. Because these dates refer to the product’s quality, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be thrown out. · “Use by”, “Best by” and “Best Before” dates are found on foods, such as mustard, salad dressing and ketchup. In many cases, they are safe to eat beyond the date as long as they have been stored properly. · “Sell by” dates are displayed on perishable foods, such as meats and dairy products. It’s possible these foods may be used a few days after that date, as long as they were stored at a safe temperature.
· Check out the Food Keeper App to learn more about how long to store your food: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app
Be mindful of portion sizes. Choose smaller portions to limit your food waste. When eating out at restaurants ask for a to-go bag and eat leftovers as another meal rather than throwing the food away.
Eat More Plan-based. You don’t have to necessarily cut meat out of your life completely, but eating it less often, or in smaller amounts is a step toward more sustainable eating. According the 2019 EAT-Lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, a global shift toward more plant-based foods including legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and less animal-based foods, especially red meat and processed meat, will help feed the world's growing population a nutritious and sustainable diet.
Use reusable containers rather than plastic bags and disposables. Take your own clear jars and reusable bags to the grocery store when buying products in bulk to decrease the amount of one-time-use waste you create. Using clear containers will help decrease waste as they encourage you to use the items since you can see what’s in them and are less likely to forget to use it before it goes bad.