As you have probably heard by now, all month we are giving out different New Year’s Resolutions about how to make your lifestyle more environmentally friendly. Not only will that benefit the world around you, but generally help you live a healthier lifestyle as well. For 3, our theme is food! This will probably have the biggest impact on your lifestyle in terms of healthiness and helping the environment.
There are many different ways to reduce your environmental impact when it comes to food. The first one that I’m sure many have heard before, is giving up meat. There are many reasons to give up meat, from facts that giving up red meat is a better way to cut carbon emissions than giving up your car, and that it takes 1,847 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat. These are very compelling facts, but asking everyone to give up meat is a lot to ask. Check out these other tips below:
1. Buy locally. Buying local foods is one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact and live a healthier lifestyle.
- Several food experts have said that the average plate of food can travel anywhere between 1300 and 1500 miles before reaching the table
- A 10% shift of the produce to local use from one’s states farms would save 310,000 gallons of fuel on an annual basis, and would reduce CO2 by 7.3 million lbs.
- Buying local will stimulate the local economy, reduce emissions from shipping, and let you enjoy the freshest food available!
2. Make a plan: Even by changing your eating habits once a week can make an impact. Also by starting simple, you can adjust as you move forward.
- Try partaking in “Meatless Mondays”. Did you know some colleges don’t offer meat in the dining halls on Mondays?
- Giving up red meat just once a week for year can save up to 331 kilograms of CO2 from the atmosphere, which is equivalent to not burning 36 gallons of gas
- Make a commitment to going to the local farmers markets once a week when they are running
- Try making at least one meal per week with all local ingredients
3. Eat seasonally: Ever think about how you can get tomatoes all year long in the grocery store, even though they only grow in our region from May to September? Tomatoes in the off season are imported from different parts of the world where they can grow, meaning lots of food miles to get that tomato to your plate in January. Know what foods are in season and stick to those. Check out more reasons why this is important:
- In season foods taste better. Ever have a peach in February? It’s just not the same as one in the height of their summer season
- Generally when food are in season farmers will grow more of them, therefore with more supply the prices will go down
- More nutritional value. When foods have to be stored for a long time for transportation, they lose a lot of their nutrients along the way.
- Supports your body’s natural needs. In the winter foods that are high in citrus are in season, which provide us with the vitamin C that we need more of in the winter, to help fight off colds and the flu. Whereas in the summer in season produce has more beta-carotenes which help protect against sun damage
- You can still have local fruits and vegetables in the winter by preserving what you bought in season! Learn how to do this here
- Check out this website to know what’s in season: Season Produce Guide
4. More additional tips:
- Use less packaging
- Waste less food, try doubling recipes which will save energy from not needing to cook as much
- Compost food scrapes
- Look for “Fair Trade” items
- Buy organic
- Eat your fruits and vegetables raw, to save energy from needing to cook them
As you can see, making your eating habits more sustainable is more about giving up meat. By combining a whole variety of practices you can realistically do, you will be able to reduce your carbon footprint.