As climate change and dwindling resources continue to become a larger concern around the world, more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of living in a more sustainable way. One way that people can do this is by being more conscientious of the foods that they consume. Everyone needs to eat, and changing eating habits just a little bit each day can make a huge impact on your environmental footprint over time. Here are four ways to eat more sustainably.
1. Eat Local
Choosing foods that are grown locally is the more sustainable option compared to selecting products grown or manufactured farther away. This is because local foods travel less far before you eat them, which cuts down on the amount of greenhouse gas used during transportation. When trying to eat local, it helps to select produce that is in season in your area. In addition to being more sustainable, local and in-season produce is usually tastier as well.
2. Reduce Meat Consumption
Raising livestock, as well as growing the food used to feed the livestock, is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Animal agriculture also requires a lot of water to remain in operation. As an example, it takes around 600 gallons of water to produce one hamburger, while it only takes 16 gallons of water to produce one serving of rice.
Replacing meat with other high-protein foods can be beneficial to the environment. There are an increasing number of companies, such as Aleph Farms, that are producing alternative forms of meat as well. Pay attention to where your fish comes from too, as overfishing is a major cause of disruption to the oceans.
3. Bypass Individually Packaged Foods
It is a good idea to pass up on individually packaged foods, particularly those that are wrapped in plastics and other unsustainable materials. Try to buy in bulk as much as you can, and choose foods that commit to using as little packaging as possible. Packaging waste eventually ends back up in the environment and even recycling the materials consumes fuel that gets released into the atmosphere. When going to the grocery store or farmer’s market, bring your own reusable bags to transport items back to your car and home.
4. Consume Fewer Processed Items
Processed foods have a higher carbon footprint than foods that are less processed due to the need to ship various ingredients from different sources to be prepared. Processed foods also require large amounts of natural resources in order to keep the factory where they are processed running and producing food. Some ways to consume less processed items are to:
- Purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables
- Buy mixed nuts rather than granola and other nutrition bars
- Eat whole grains rather than refined grains
In addition to being the more sustainable choice, minimally refined foods are healthier than more refined products.
By making better individual choices in regards to what you put on your plate, you can have a positive impact on the environment.
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