By the time winter ends, most of us are ready for a change, whether that means more time outside, or a shift in what we’re eating. We say good-bye to hearty soups, stews, and the warming comfort foods of colder days. Instead, blooming gardens and new growth on trees remind us of all the fresh fruits and vegetables ready for our plates.
Turning to fresh produce can help you eat more sustainably. It’s one step in the process of picking foods that are good for you, but also good for the planet.
If sustainability is something already important for you in other areas of your daily routine, a few additional changes can get you all the way to including sustainable eating.
Start at home
Eating sustainably has a lot to do with packaging. You’re missing a piece if you’re putting good food in your body, but creating a lot of plastic waste in the process.
Remove a big contributor to plastic waste by using your own bags when grocery shopping. Replace single-use shopping bags that stores have for you with ones made from recycled material. You can even get reusable produce bags to avoid using those small plastic ones as you shop. Keep a supply of all the reusable bags you’ll need in your car so you never have to worry about remembering them.
Once you get to the store, examine the packaging your favorite foods come in as well. If there’s an alternative to buying an item packaged in plastic, go for it. More companies are shifting toward sustainable packaging like bamboo or are giving up plastic bottles in exchange for glass.
Even though you can purchase the same produce year-round, it’s not always coming from nearby. The further your produce has to go to get to you, the more harmful emissions are put into the atmosphere by the delivery trucks bringing it in. The long transport time can also impact the freshness of the fruits and vegetables.
Knowing what’s in season, and focusing on that produce when you cook, means it has a shorter distance to travel to get to you, and it improves your ability to shop locally. You’re supporting the farmers closest to you and reducing the amount of fuel needed to deliver said produce.
If you’re unsure of what’s in season, and what’s coming from close by, visit a farmer’s market or local produce stand instead of only buying produce from grocery store chains.
Grow your own food
Even better than thinking seasonally is knowing what’s in season because you’re growing it yourself. While you obviously can’t grow all the produce you love to eat, focusing on the 3-4 items you eat the most, and planting your own garden, can make a difference.
Eating your own food is as local as it gets, and you’re using minimal resources to get that food to your table. Not only that, but there’s a huge sense of personal satisfaction associated with eating something you grew yourself.
Start with seeds or even buy seedlings from your local nursery to get your own garden underway.
Buy in bulk
Sometimes harder to do when it comes to certain foods, but buying in bulk saves on the packaging waste you leave behind. It also means less trips to the store, so less fuel used. Some of the best bulk items include:
- Canned goods like beans or tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Frozen berries (perfect for smoothies)
- Rolled oats
- Peanut butter
Even if some of these items come packaged in plastic, you’ll use less packaging, but get more out of it buying bulk-sized products.
Are you what you eat?
If you’re someone who thinks sustainably in many areas of your life, make sure not to neglect your diet. Eating sustainably, by picking health-conscious foods that don’t take a huge toll on the environment, is just as important as taking recycling seriously and buying from companies who offset their waste.
Even where you buy gas for your car matters. At Twice Daily, the Thrive program offsets the tailpipe emissions of every car that fuels up at our stations by up to 30 percent. By investing in carbon reduction projects and working in partnership with environmental non-profits in our communities, Thrive makes it easy to use your car to help improve air quality. Add in how you eat and what food you shop for, and you’re well on your way to a lifestyle of sustainability.