April 22nd is Earth Day, and as usual, it’s another opportunity to hang our heads and feel guilty for wasting resources…er, wait—that’s not a celebratory attitude!
What if instead of another guilt trip, this year’s Earth Day serves as a fresh reminder to each do our part as healthy, caring, responsible Foodies? That’s exactly what today’s post is all about. Here are 5 easy ways to incorporate eco-friendliness into your foodie lifestyle—one delicious meal at a time!
Give up on the process(ed).
Think about all the work that goes into making processed foods: the initial farming of ingredients, transport, factory production steps like cooking, packaging, refrigeration, and more transport. By the time processed food gets to the consumer, it’s been on quite a journey! Consider ways you can cut out the “middle man” involved in highly processed foods.
Even buying fresh meat from a butcher, artisanal cheeses from a nearby creamery, produce from a local farmers’ market, or prepared foods from a neighborhood deli reduces the carbon footprint of what we have for dinner.
Bonus: Eating “whole” foods that are less processed will often lead to healthier choices on your plate—i.e. foods without hidden calories, excessive salt and sugars, and problematic additives like trans fats.
Eat like a local.
Whether you’re browsing the bins at your Saturday farmers’ market, enrolling in a CSA program, or growing veggies on your back patio, local eating delivers peak freshness and unrivaled flavors while helping out both the natural environment and your regional economy. Keeping up with what’s in season also guarantees that you’ll enjoy your favorite food when they’re at their ripest—like autumn apples, winter greens, and late-summer tomatoes.
Many local producers use non-chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well, so choosing local fare can help reduce your chemical exposure. Also, utilizing local ingredients remains a popular trend among top chefs, so let the ethos of local eating provide an excuse to sample some excellent culinary craftsmanship next time you visit an elite restaurant!
Pick environmentally-friendly produce.
Did you know that not all plants and vegetables interact with the soil in the same way?
Check out this list of eco-friendly vegetables that aren’t hard on the soil, don’t require excessive water, and emit minimal CO2.
Some of the facts are surprising: Tomatoes grow deep roots that allow them to require less watering than other plants do in warm weather conditions. Broccoli doesn’t need synthetic pesticides to thrive—it creates its own natural compounds that ward off invasive insects. And green garden peas actually enrich the soil with nitrogen to help promote the success of future harvests!
BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag.
The positive news is that most stores sell shopping bags (Trader Joe’s, in keeping with their commitment to sustainability, offers colorful varieties in their stores), and some retailers—including Target, Whole Foods, and Sprouts—even give a discount when shoppers load up their own reusable bags instead of plastic ones.
If you’ve got a stockpile of standard grocery bags leftover from shopping trips, consider re-purposing them as mini-trashcan liners in your home or office, recycling them at the store (many retailers provide onsite disposal bins just for this purpose), or even donating them to teachers or aides in school settings who often need extra help with messy situations.
Craving the exotic? Opt for Fairtrade.
Whether it’s bananas, coffee and tea, or chocolate, there are certain items that are impossible to source locally—or even from North America. For these far-flung favorites, consider buying Fairtrade certified varieties. What is Fairtrade?
In their own words:
“Fairtrade is a novel approach to international trade based on partnership, connecting the people who produce our food and goods with the people who purchase and enjoy them.
We do this by certifying compliance with the Fairtrade International Standards that correct power imbalances, and encourage business relationships based on trust and transparency. Because producers of different products have specific challenges, Fairtrade Standards are unique assuring the greatest impact for farmers and workers.”
Fairtrade’s minimum pricing standards allow farmers to use sustainable agricultural practices like organic farming while ensuring that they have a stable income from what they sell. Check out an extensive list of Fairtrade products—ranging from cotton to wine to ice cream to chewing gum—here.a
Whatever this weekend has in store, lets remember how a little thoughtfulness can have a big impact in helping make the world a better place. Happy Foodie Friday!
And, of course, for something a little weird…
What if the food packaging that we typically throw away was actually edible, too? That’s a technology one innovative man from Indonesia is working to make a reality. Watch the video below to learn more about how Evoware is cleaning up the ocean by trading plastic for seaweed!