Hello readers! I am a dietetics major at Bradley University, so naturally, I love finding new ways to eat healthier for myself and the planet. Living in a world with processed foods, factory farms and a high carbon footprint makes purchasing healthy food confusing and complicated. Well, it doesn’t have to be! Here are just a few ways to eat better for yourself and the environment around you daily.
- Grow your own produce
Some look at a pack of cucumber seeds and walk away because they either don’t know how to garden or think it’s too difficult. I used to think that way when I was younger as I watched my mom garden the entire summer. Now, I find it very therapeutic and it makes me feel good eating something I grew all by myself. To educate myself on gardening, I watched many youtube videos and read different articles which has lead me to realize how easy it is to garden. A couple of summers ago, I purchased a garage sale bookcase and turned it into a little raised garden in just a few days. Taking care of something helps increase my mental health and happiness. Gardening is worth a try. Who knows, it might become your favorite hobby!
- Shop Locally and Seasonally
Shopping locally gives adequate support to family farmers in your area. This is important because it aids in keeping the cost and the carbon footprint down when it comes to transportation; thus it helps sustains a diverse environment. The money that you may be giving to a grocery store chain, can instead be helping your local farmers continue to grow and supply good produce for your community. In addition, eating seasonally keeps the cost of your grocery bill down and increases your ability to be creative with your meals. For example, there are so many delicious recipes that you can make out of squash, which is in season in the fall and winter months. Purchasing in-season produce also assures that you are supporting more local farmers because the food does not have to be transported from faraway places with warmer/colder temperatures.
- Alter your food choices
When I say “alter your food choices”, I do not mean to go on any sort of diet. I just mean that another way to become a sustainable consumer is to purchase less canned, boxed, or packaged food items. When we finish with our food items, we throw away the packages they come in, which increases our waste in landfills. When you purchase plant-based foods, there is less packaging, which may change the way you eat and plan meals. Consuming plant-based foods can increase your health status at the same time. It may be beneficial, when making these decisions, to do a little research to find new recipes or ways to meal prep to expand your knowledge about food.
In conclusion, when you put forth the effort to eat sustainably, you can not only increase your own health but the health of our beloved planet. Sustainable eating can lead to more at-home cooking or gardening, increasing your daily movement, more plant-based meals, and support for your local community/farmers. Rethink the next time you create a grocery list, you may find that sustainable eating is easier than you thought. You can find more ways to increase your sustainability at eatright.org.