Support your local economy and the environment by shopping at your nearest Farmer’s Market. Locally sourced produce is a more environmentally friendly option as it won’t have been transported over a long distance and is rarely packaged. As well as thinking about where your food comes from, consider how it is being sourced and whether you will be contributing to a fair and sustainable industry by buying it. At the supermarket, look for products that are labelled as USDA organic as they will have been sourced in a way that minimises negative impacts on the environment and promotes the sustainability of natural ecosystems. Products labelled as Fairtrade ensure that both the producers and the consumers benefit appropriately from trading, for example by ensuring fair treatment of the workers sourcing the products. So, when you stock up on groceries: shop local, ask questions about the source of your products and make sure every product is organic and fair trade certified.
Buying seasonal products ensures you are buying local products that do not require as many artificial chemicals to grow and do not have to be transported over long distances. Local farmer’s markets will usually stock an abundance of seasonal produce, but if you are only able to shop at supermarkets you can simply look up online which products are in season in your area. Seasonal produce usually grows in abundance and is left to fully ripen before being harvested, making it cheaper to produce (and often cheaper to buy!) and allowing full development of its flavour.
Cutting down on animal products and processed foods and eating more plants is a very effective way of reducing your carbon footprint and preserving the environment. The mass production of animal products and processed foods has a hugely negative impact on the environment, so prioritise plant-based wholefoods and ensure that any animal-based or processed products you do buy are sustainably sourced and enjoyed in moderation. Not only will this benefit the environment by saving water and land and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it will also benefit your health!
Minimise food waste by sharing your excess groceries or leftovers. Offer perishable products you are unlikely to use to your neighbours or donate them to charities such as homeless shelters. Share your leftovers with your friends and family or simply freeze them for another day. At restaurants where portion sizes tend to be larger than normal, either share portions with your friends or ask to take the leftovers home to eat the following day. These simple habits will ensure you never have to waste valuable sources of energy and nutrition.
The best way to reduce your own household food waste is to plan your grocery shop and your meals so you can guarantee that you will use everything you buy. Meal planning also enables you to ensure that you are using seasonal produce, and allows you to identify exactly how many animal products and processed foods you are consuming. This gives you an insight into how sustainable and nutritious your diet is and gives you the opportunity to make positive changes. Making conscious decisions regarding your meals promotes healthy choices and is an essential component of mindful eating. Being mindful of what you are eating and where it comes from is a key principle of not only sustainable eating, but also healthy eating!