Food Sustainability & Health on Your Plate

How many carbon footprints was that apple on your counter and that steak on your plate responsible for? Transporting these foods miles and miles from their point of growth and production affects our environment. When did you last stop and think about the effects of your diet not only on your wellbeing but also on the health of the planet? It’s easy to take for granted that the food we eat comes from somewhere outside of our homes, office buildings, or cars. Someone else is taking care of our growing and thriving food supply, but there are ramifications to how we choose to eat. We all make hundreds, if not thousands, of food choices every single day and the truth is, there are major implications for both our health and our planet every time you eat.

First, let’s talk about the environment. Industrialized agriculture uses large amounts of fossil-fuel based fertilizers, pesticides, and heavy monocropping reliant on specialized crops and genetically identical seeds. It undermines nutrient quality and diversity of crops, overtaxes ecosystems, depletes soil health, pollutes waterways and, in part by way of these practices, contributes to greenhouse gasses.

Furthermore, it affects our health! Diets high in processed foods and red meat lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. People often lack access to fresh produce, whole grains and other nutrient-rich foods.So, what can we do?

Eat more sustainably! Starting by eating more plants. Studies show that plant-rich diets are kinder to your heart and waistline, not to mention that they cost less and have a lower environmental impact. Discover the world of legumes and grains, from lentils and beans to tofu and whole grains, plus local, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Buy regionally and in season: foods that require the least transportation, grown close to where you live and at peak harvest leaves a smaller footprint and usually comes from farmers who employ more sustainable techniques. Shop at farmers’ markets if possible.

Only buy what you are going to eat – do your best to minimize food waste. Keep a meal plan in your bag, make a shopping list and be creative with leftovers! Composting food scraps nourishes the soil and decreases the use of chemical fertilizers.

Share this knowledge with others. Talk to family and friends about your sustainable food journey. Learn about where your food comes from, how it’s grown or raised, and the link between your food choices and how you feel. You too could begin to make a difference, one bite at a time. Sustainable eating is not about perfection, but good choices that make you a better person and the Earth a better place. Together, we can make this vision of food where we build individual and planetary health come true with more delicious food choices for us all. Pick up your reusable grocery bag, check out a farmer’s market, and enjoy the flavors.