By Madison Boissiere
Our food choices and food productions have a huge impact on the environment and climate change. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by our global food systems. If we continue to put the environment as anything but a priority, this percentage will likely continue to rise.
Many are turning to a more sustainable diet that consumes foods produced with a low impact on natural resources, ecosystems, and biodiversity to support the planet. This also promotes individual nutrition, cost-friendly foods, and overall health. Here are a few ways to get started on your sustainable eating journey:
Eat More Plant-Based
We all know that eating fruits and vegetables has countless benefits for the body, but did you know we are also helping the environment when we choose to eat a plant-forward diet? Typically, a diet focused on plants requires less land, water, and energy compared to a diet high in meat. Swap out your usual meats with proteins like tofu, nuts, and beans a few times a week to help your health and the health of the planet.
Cut Back on Food Waste
Food waste directly affects the issue of climate change. When food is wasted, so are the resources and energy it takes to get from the farm to your home. Spoiled food then produces methane, a toxic greenhouse gas even worse than carbon dioxide. To lessen your household food waste, consider composting, freezing foods, donating, purchasing blemished produce, and understanding expiration labels.
Farmer’s markets are a great way to cut back on transportation energy and fossil fuels that go into moving your foods across long routes. They also allow you to meet the people who produce the foods you eat and ensure that your produce is fresh and safe.
Look for Sustainably Sourced Logos
The World Wildlife Fund recommends searching for logos like Fairtrade (protecting farmers and workers in developing countries), Freedom Food (animal welfare), MSC and ASC (seafood), and RSPO (palm oil).
Focusing on mindful eating will allow you to be more aware of where your food is coming from, how it nourishes your body, and its implications on the environment. Simply being more conscious of how and what you consume can significantly alter how you think about food and your habits in your life.
Whether you are looking to improve your health or support the environment, implementing a few of these ideas into your life will make a world of difference for both you and the planet. Becoming more sustainable does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach, but by choosing just a few things to change in our lives, together, we can make a tremendous difference.
- World Wildlife Fund. Six Tips to Help You Eat More Sustainably. WWF. Accessed July 27 2021. https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/six-tips-help-you-eat-more-sustainably
- Harvard Staff. 5 Tips for Sustainable Eating. The Nutrition Source. Accessed July 27 2021. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/06/17/5-tips-for-sustainable-eating/
- Nikki Finken. How to Eat Sustainably: 10 Tips for a Healthy Body and Planet. To Taste. Accessed July 29 2021. https://totaste.com/eating-sustainably
By: Madison Boissiere, Graduate of Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois