Shrinking your food footprint isn’t as daunting as it may seem. By eating in a more sustainable way, you can lower your environmental impact, protect ecosystems and contribute to food security not just for us, but for future generations, according to The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
A 2014 study reported that 83 percent of Americans consider sustainability when buying food, but Americans are shockingly unaware of how much food they are wasting on a daily basis, according to a study from the International Food Information Council Foundation.
Here are three simple steps to creating a more sustainable diet for you and your family.
As summer kicks off, farmers markets and farm stands are popping up all over the country. And with blackberries, cucumbers and potatoes in season, how could you resist? Local produce isn’t just delicious, but it also supports your local economy and reduces carbon emissions from large-scale distribution. Much of the pollution from agriculture isn’t from growing food, but rather from the vehicles that transport it long distances. The typical American meal contains ingredients from five countries outside of the U.S., according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, and our food travels between 1,500 to 2,500 miles to get to us, according to the Worldwatch Institute.
Skip your trip to the grocery store this month; buy local. To find options in your area, visit www.localharvest.org.
Cut your Meat Intake
Taking a small amount of meat off of your plate and replacing it with nutritious fruits and veggies can make a huge impact on our natural resources. One pound of beef takes about 1,847 gallons of water to produce – that’s about 107 showers worth. In comparison, it only takes 302 gallons of water to produce one pound of protein-packed lentils, according to the Water Footprint Network. Meat production is also a leading cause of deforestation worldwide, which destroys habitats and adds to an increasing number of endangered species.
Reduce Grocery Store Waste
Buying everything at the farmers market sounds great, but let’s be honest, we need trips to the grocery store, too. But much of what we buy there goes to waste. In 2014, Americans wasted over 38 million tons of food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. We can chip away at this number by taking a few simple steps. Before leaving your house, see what food you currently have, plan your meals for the week and prepare a shopping list.
To decrease your footprint even further, on your way out the door, don’t forget to grab any reusable bags and containers. Every year, over 500 billion plastic bags are consumed worldwide; when they decompose, plastic seeps into our soils, lakes, rivers and oceans. And have no fear, reusable bags and containers aren’t just environmentally friendly, they can be fashionable too!
What are you doing to boost the sustainability of your kitchen? Share in the comments below.