Everything we do has an effect on our environment. From commuting to work to consuming bottled water, there’s a multitude of ways that day-to-day life can affect the planet. Even the act of sitting down at the dinner table, while seemingly innocuous, can be surprisingly impactful. Luckily, when it comes to food, the methods of minimizing said impact are simple. Sustainable food choices are key when it comes to reducing our personal impact on the environment.
RELATED: Vegan Eats: Restaurants in Toronto You Have to Try >>>
For those who want to be conscious of their footprint, here are 6 tips on sustainable food choices
When it’s time to get groceries, do your shopping close to home. By foregoing the grocery store for a farmer’s market, you’ll put your dollar towards supporting your community. What’s more, local offerings don’t travel far from the places they’re cultivated, resulting in lower costs—both in money and emissions—for transportation and refrigeration. To top things off, going for locally-sourced ingredients guarantees top-quality freshness. There’s a reason so many restaurants proudly work with local providers.
Many foods aren’t available year-round. This can be circumvented by transporting them from abroad while they are domestically out-of-season. However, this process comes at a cost; importing not only hikes up the price of products, but facilitates rampant consumption of fossil fuels. Rather than going against them, let the seasons inspire your menu. Beyond being environmentally-conscious, this practice ensures you’ll enjoy ingredients at their best. Nothing combats winter weather like a hearty dose of root vegetables, and there’s no substitute for juicy strawberries on a balmy summer day.
Grow at Home
Home gardening has a host of benefits. It cuts down the cost of shopping trips, for one. Moreover, it yields produce you can eat guilt-free, knowing it was grown without the use of pesticides or growth supplements. Not to mention there’s a wealth of crops to choose from, and more than one way of cultivating them. A backyard is the perfect spot to sow some seeds, but don’t be discouraged if you’re working with limited space; you can always place a planter on the windowsill, or stake out a spot at a community garden.
Preserve Your Pickings
Has your harvest left you with an excess of food? Instead of struggling to eat everything before it spoils, you should preserve the fruits of your labor. There’s several ways to extend the lifespan of your ingredients. Got too many green peas? Bag ‘em up and pop ‘em in the freezer. Have an abundance of cucumbers? With some jars and brine, you’ll have homemade pickles instead. Worried about your raspberries spoiling? If you make them into jam, you can savor their sweet flavor for months to come.
Eat Less Meat
You don’t necessarily need to go vegan. If you’re passionate about food sustainability, though, you should be familiar with the pitfalls of mass meat production. Obviously, raising animals requires more resources than cultivating plants. Furthermore, large-scale production of meat—especially beef—produces considerable amounts of greenhouse gasses. To mitigate these issues, think about limiting your meat intake, as well as buying from smaller, more eco-friendly suppliers. Or, if you prefer, you can seek out alternate sources of protein, such as nuts and legumes.
Reduce Food Waste
“Food waste” refers to both food itself and the packaging it comes in. You can avoid accumulating garbage by shying away from individually-packaged products, like pre-made salads and sandwiches. Purchasing items in bulk and using your own containers is another foolproof method. As for the food, keep a keen eye on expiration dates. Try to use perishable ingredients—meat, fish, and vegetables—before reaching for the pantry. Finally, don’t feel the need to stock up all at once; consistent shorter shops make you less likely to overstuff the fridge and lead to sustainable food choices!