How we cook and what we eat not only affects our health, but also the health of our planet. From buying locally sourced, organic produce to reducing your food waste, there are plenty of choices you can make in the way you consume food that will help you to reduce your carbon footprint.
As consumers, we have the power to strongly influence retail and farming policies. While it might seem that retail behemoths dictate what products they offer us, their decisions are strongly shaped by the demands and desires of the customer. Having this power also comes with having to take more responsibility for our own food choices. Only we ourselves can make changes for the better, and knowing the impact our food habits have, and what you can do about it, will enable you to make healthier and more sustainable decisions. So let us help you with that!
#1: Buy locally-sourced, organic produce
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 travelled to get to your supermarket. Organically produced meats and vegetables are free of pesticides, antibiotics, GMO's, and growth hormones, making them a more sustainable and energy-saving alternative to regularly produced foods. Additionally, locally sourced foods bear a smaller carbon footprint because they don't have to be transported across great distances. Minimizing transport results in the release of less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus, minimizing the impact of pollution.
Knowing where your food comes from, as well as the distance it travelled from in its journey to your plate will help you make more sustainable food choices. Buying locally grown crops has many benefits: you reduce your carbon footprint, , and in doing so, you 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, hardly any crops can be harvested throughout the year. Vegetables that are not in season are often harvested before they are fully ripe, and will have travelled hundreds of kilometers to get to their destination. So check the country of origin on the package, and stick to buying vegetables that are currently in season. Not only will they be more nutritious and packed with flavor, they will also be more environmentally friendly.
Tip: If you want to preserve summery flavors, try pickling 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, reducing it in our own homes is not only easiest to tackle, it will also have a significant impact. In industrialized countries, over 40% of the food waste occurs at retail and consumer level. So what can we do about it? Plan, shop smart, and be a little creative! Planning meals ahead of time and making grocery lists will help you to stop shopping for more than you need, and thus, reduce the amount of food you will be throwing away. Or try postponing your shopping trip for a day, and cook with what you can find at home. You will be surprised with the endless possibilities of leftovers in your fridge and freezer! Find out the best ways to store: a lot of foods can also last much longer if stored properly, especially perishable goods.
It's all about making smart choices, taking responsibility, and supporting companies that address these issues.