Welcome back to the sustainable kitchen series! In part one, we covered the importance of inventory and organization to reduce food waste, save money and improve sustainability. This week I’m discussing how to eat and shop more sustainably.
SUSTAINABLE EATING means consuming healthful food produced:
- ethically and humanely
- by workers paid a fair wage
- via environmentally friendly farming techniques to ensure natural resource preservation
- locally and in season, supporting community agriculture
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion, and the current growth rate of global agriculture productivity is not adequate to sustain the increase. Not with 40% of the food supply being wasted in developed countries like the U.S.
The single, most effective way to practice more sustainability as consumers is more focus on plant-based eating. Plants use far fewer natural resources during production and are less demanding on eco-systems as compared with dairy and meat products.
I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I do strive to incorporate several plant based meals throughout the week. Try adding a few into your meal plan rotation this week and prepare to check out your local farmer’s market or bulk store! Beans, lentils, nuts and protein-rich grains are good places to start, alongside whatever seasonal vegetables are available.
BUT FIRST you’ll need a few tools to ensure a sustainable shopping excursion-whether it’s the farmer’s market OR a grocery store. Don’t cancel out the benefits of more sustainable eating by purchasing ultra packaged goods that create waste. Plastic waste and other trash debris often end up in oceans and are detrimental to marine life. I uncontrollably ugly cried during a sunset dinner in Costa Rica upon witnessing a tiny crab crawling up the beach at high tide, wearing a plastic soda bottle cap in lieu of a shell.
I never leave home without my reusable shopping bags and cloth produce bags. Hold up. Let’s be real. If and when an unexpected shopping trip occurs and I’m sans reusable bags, most grocery stores provide a plastic bag recycling drop off. Look for the symbol at your local grocer:
Shopping bulk will help reduce packaging waste. Extra credit if you bring your own reusable container and subtract the tare weight from the total amount. You can find almost any product you need in bulk: coffee, tea, spices, baking ingredients, beans, nuts, pasta, grains and even beer and wine. Zero Waste Home has a great bulk store finder if you’re unsure what’s available in your area.
Eating more plant based meals and becoming a more responsible consumer are both important aspects of creating a more sustainable kitchen and ultimately, lifestyle. Next week we’ll discuss proper food storage to increase shelf life and strategies to ensure no foods are wasted!