The 2016 New Year may be a bit yesterday or a trip down the memory lane (depending upon which side of the fence you sit) but let's not turn all those healthy eating self assurances into guilt, followed by tears and regrets (if you haven't done so already!)
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food", said Hippocrates. To simplify this statement, we have broken it down into fifteen tips. Keep this as your desktop background, print it off and tape it to your fridge and let these be a gentle reminder that you too can eat healthy, delicious AND sustainable food.
- Eat Less Meat – try out Meatless Mondays or cut out meat on the weekends. By starting small, you’re making a huge impact on the planet as animal farming is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian options out there, which will get you more creative in the kitchen!
- Buy Local – Try shopping at your local farmers markets or sign up with a local farm. Local food ensures that your local farmer stays in business, promotes plant diversity and is the freshest possible option.
- Buy Organic – If you have the means, always choose organic! By doing so, you’re not paying into a system that mistreats the planet with harsh chemicals. If you’re strapped for cash, stick to the clean 15 and avoid the dirty dozen. These are the fruits and veggies that are most worth the money for organic based on pesticide use.
- Sustainable Seafood – If you eat fish look for wild caught and sustainably raised seafood.
- Eat less processed foods – aside from generally being harmful to your body, processed foods rely heavily on highly-subsidized corn (in the form of high fructose corn syrup) and doesn’t encourage a diverse food system.
- Grow Your Own- have a window sill? Pot up some herbs like basil or mint to add to your salads. Have a backyard? Try your hand at growing leafy greens and radishes, which generally take less time to grow than root vegetables. Gardening is awesome, and growing your food can be extremely rewarding.
- Compost – If you have the space, you can get buy a pre-made composter or build one yourself. No backyard? No problem! You can buy or make your own worm composting bin that can live in your kitchen. If you keep your worms fed regularly, there shouldn’t be any bad smells coming from there. By composting, your diverting your food waste from a landfill and turning it into nutrient-dense soil for your garden or potted plants (see #6!)
- Preserve the Harvest – all the berry picking you do in the summer would make delicious jam in the fall or winter. Same goes for fall apple picking- you can enjoy apple sauce anytime of the year. With a little bit of planning, your can preserve lots of food.
- Cook! – The easiest and most straightforward way to eat more healthy and more sustainably is to take some time to cook every week.
- Buy in Bulk and reduce food packaging – ever tried shopping in the bulk section of your grocery store? It’s a great place to save money and packaging for things like grains, flours, nuts and lentils.
- Buy Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffee and chocolate – the coffee and chocolate industries have had a long history of paying low wages for workers. By cutting out the middleman, and working directly with farmers, you’re supporting fair-wage practices for cocoa and coffee farmers across the globe. Plus it’s delicious.
- Invest in reusable kitchen ware like bamboo cutlery, textiles and even mason jars. This is a great way to reduce waste in the kitchen.
- Stop buying bottled water! Buy a glass water bottle and fill it up at the fresh water tap. If you’re concerned about tap water in your region, you can always buy a water purifier. You’ll be saving money in the long run and reducing all that plastic.
- Ask Questions- whenever you’re out buying groceries or at a restaurant ask questions. This skit made the questions go over the top, but it never hurts to ask! You may be pleasantly surprised with the answer you get.
- Enjoy it! Good, healthy, sustainable food is meant to be shared with close friends and family. Consider having weekly potlucks or a rotating dinner schedule with neighbors. This will take some time off your hands, get you to try new foods, and celebrate in the beauty of local food!