How we cook and what we eat affects not only our health, but that of our planet. From buying locally sourced, organic produce to reducing your food waste, there are many choices you can make that will help to reduce your carbon footprint.
While it might seem that retail behemoths dictate what products are offered to us, their decisions are strongly shaped by the demands and desires of their customers. As consumers, we have the power to influence retail and farming policies, but with this power comes the increased responsibility of our own food choices. Make changes for the better, knowing the impact your habits have. What you do will enable you to make healthier and more sustainable decisions.
Here are the top three ways to reduce your carbon footprint through your diet:
1. Buy locally sourced, organic products
When assessing the environmental impact of a certain food product, it's important to keep in mind how it was produced and how far it traveled to get to your supermarket. Organically produced vegetables, fruits, and grains (and meats) are free of pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, and growth hormones, making them a more sustainable and energy-saving alternative to mass-produced foods. Additionally, locally sourced foods have a smaller carbon footprint because they aren’t traveling great distances. Minimizing transport means less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, decreasing the impact of pollution. Knowing where your food comes from, as well as its journey to your plate, will help you make more sustainable food choices. Buying locally grown crops will reduce your carbon footprint and support local farmers! What's not to love about that?
2. Eat seasonal whenever possible
While some fruits and vegetables might be available in your supermarket all year round, there are few crops that are harvested throughout the year. Out-of-season-produce is often harvested before it is fully ripe and travels hundreds of kilometers to its final destination. Check the country of origin on the stickers or packages, and only buy what is currently in season. Those choices will be more nutritious, will be packed with flavor, and will also be more environmentally friendly.
Tip: If you want to preserve summery flavors, try pickling and fermenting your vegetables!
3. Waste less food
Did you know that according to a study conducted by FUSIONS EU, we throw away a combined 88 million tons of food annually in the European Union? Even though food waste takes place at all levels of the food supply chain, in industrialized countries, over 40% of the food waste occurs at the retail and consumer level. Therefore, reducing waste at home will have a significant impact and is the easiest to tackle. Plan to shop smart and be a little creative. Planning meals ahead of time and making detailed grocery lists will keep you from shopping for more than you need, and in turn, reduce the amount of food you will be throwing away.
Once in a while, try postponing your shopping trip for a day or two and cook with what you already have at home. You will be surprised by what you can come up with from the leftovers in your fridge and freezer! Lastly, find out the best way to store your groceries from the time you bring them home. A lot of foods can last much longer than you ever thought.
It’s all about making smart choices. Support companies that have a track record of making good choices in their practices. Take responsibility for what you buy and how you store it.