Once upon a time, we all ate for hunger. While the same is still true (and of course, always will be), there are a lot more considerations that now step into play.
Terms such as ‘organic’, ‘green’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘local’ all roll off the tip of a lot of people’s tongues, and it’s for good reason. The world is attempting to become more sustainable and as we will soon find out through some of the points we raise, food contributes immensely to this situation.
If everyone did their bit and contributed accordingly, there’s no doubt that the situation would turn on its head (see our first point to start with).
Bearing this in mind, we have now comprised the following seven points. Each one of these will tell you a green way to change your approach to eating and ultimately, make your plate much more sustainable in the process.
Shrink your food waste
It sounds obvious, but your first course of action should be take a look in the mirror in relation to the food that you potentially wase. In 2010, one study found that the U.S. generated approximately 34 million tons of food waste every year. A more recent study simply compounded these facts; it found that food waste was up to 40% of food supply. Suffice to say, it’s an absolutely monumental problem that certainly isn’t helping you to create a green plate.
Of course, it’s all very well documenting the issue – there are expensive advertising campaigns by the authorities to do this. However, how can you make a difference and start to cut your food waste?
Really, it comes to common sense. Firstly, meal planning is absolutely essential and calculating what you are going to eat through the course of the week is a sure-fire way to minimize food waste. By doing this, you can reuse ingredients much more easily. A similar tip is to put the oldest food at the front of the refrigerator, just so you are more tempted to grab that when snack time arises.
There are some technical suggestions as well. For example, keeping your refrigerator and freezer in optimum condition will help to preserve food for much longer periods. This means that you should ensure that they are always set to the recommended temperature, as well as cleaning the coils on refrigerators so they function as efficiently as possible.
Watch when you eat
No, we’re not talking about some diet-related tip. This time, it’s more about the time of year that you munch on particular foods (or the season, to be precise).
We’re going to assume that most of you don’t live in somewhere where the where the sun shines all year round. If you do, you’re extremely lucky, as you’ll be given the opportunity to sample free fruits and vegetables every day of the year. The environment is perfect for growth and from a green perspective, your actions won’t hinder your carbon footprint in the slightest.
On the most part, your food will need to do at least a little traveling though. It’s for this reason that you need to find when your local area is ripe for certain foods, and eat them at that time of the year. By turning to local produce in this regard, you will slash the amount of food miles and do the planet a world of favors in the process.
It’s time to say ‘no’ to packaging
In truth, we’re pretty astounded more hasn’t been made of this issue. If you were to cast your eyes down supermarket aisles, you would see scores of products with packaging that they really don’t need. Sure, everything needs a label and at least something to contain it, but more and more manufacturers are starting to go over-the-top with their packaging and this is hindering the environment significantly.
Of course, it’s not always going to be possible to ditch packaging. However, if you can at least make an effort to do so, you will do a long way in doing your bit for the environment and ultimately making your plate greener.
The organic dilemma
Most people might be expecting us to rant and rave about how you should always switch to organic produce. Well, let’s pause those thoughts briefly.
Sure, organic food can be excellent. It doesn’t use any pesticides or herbicides and this is obviously a huge advantage.
The problem, if it’s safe to call it this, is that organic produce has become incredibly popular. The upshot of this means that it is often made in bulk, by the typical producers, and this means that it often has huge food miles attached to it. In other words, the smaller producers just can’t keep up with the pace of it as this hinders the overall food mileage. When it comes to the crunch, organic food actually tends to have similar food miles and equal water and soil usage as normal produce.
There is no evidence to suggest that organic produce is better for you nutritionally either, so our advice is to make this decision based on your own preferences, rather than thinking that you are immediately doing the environment a wealth of favors. As we’ve just discussed, this might not necessarily be the case.
The DIY approach
Following on from the previous point, this next one is probably completely expected. We’ve made something of a big deal about food miles through this piece, for the simple reason that it’s the sure-fire way to make your plate greener.
Bearing this in mind, in a bid to eradicate your plate’s food miles altogether, why not attempt the DIY approach. In other words, we’re referring to the grow it yourself approach (perhaps we should coin it GIY).
Sure, a lot of this will depend on your environment and not every location is going to be suitable for this. However, from a green and cost perspective, little else is going to beat this method. Additionally, if we revert to the organic-factor, foods that you grow yourself will be completely organic, no questions asked.
The impact of a balanced diet
These final two suggestions might be somewhat obvious – but for the sake of staying green they are pretty crucial. Firstly, if everyone stuck to a balanced diet, the world would be in a better place. There would be more to go around and while it wouldn’t solve all food-related problems, it would certainly help a little. When we talk about a balanced diet, we’re talking about the five food groups and sticking to the standard recommendations.
Cooking at home is fashionable
Finally, while it might feel quite fashionable to frequently visit restaurants, this is something that can hinder your green plate. This immediately strips any control you have over the food on your plate and suffice to say, establishments like restaurants are quick to add all sorts of ingredients.
When you also consider your transport in arriving at your place in question, it starts to become a no-brainer. Sure, we’re by no means saying you should avoid restaurants – they are a key part of social interaction. However, just ease some caution.
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