The word “sustainable” has become very popular when it comes to food. As we use up more and more of our earth’s resources, we need to start thinking about the future beyond our own nutrition habits. Pollution, toxicity, and waste all increase our carbon footprint. If you care about the future of this world, don’t think it’s out of your hands to help save it. Every little step you take can make a difference. Here are five easy ways to help.
Nutrition Habit #1 – Plant a garden
When you grow your own food, you are truly eating organic. The fruits and vegetables will be pesticide-free and will taste so much fresher. Because they are only traveling from your backyard to your kitchen, they will also have more nutrients in them. It also means that neither the produce nor you has to travel anywhere, so there is also going to be fuel savings. This is good for your wallet and for the earth.
It is very easy to grow a garden. You just get some seeds, read up on the best growing environment, and plant it. All a garden requires is regular water, sunlight, and possibly some weeding. If you have kids, get them involved to help share some of the work. They will be more excited to eat the fruits and vegetables that come out of the garden if they help create it. Better nutrition for your whole family!
Nutrition Habit #2 – Eat more whole foods
Look around your kitchen in the pantry and the fridge. How many foods are in packaging? Probably a lot. All of those wrappers are going to have to go somewhere when you throw them out. If they aren’t recycled, they will go into a landfill. Think about filling your grocery cart with bananas, apples, broccoli…no packaging. Just food.
There are also nutrition benefits that come from eating less packaged foods. Packaged foods are most likely processed. They may contain added sugars and artificial ingredients that you don’t want to be putting in your body anyway. Whole, unpackaged foods are going to be in their natural state without anything added.
Nutrition Habit #3 – Cook more meals
When you cook at home, you aren’t using your car’s gas to get to a restaurant. Good for the environment! You are also saving money by not using that gas, and by skipping the restaurant meal. It’s always going to cost more to eat at a restaurant than it is to eat a home-cooked meal.
In addition to helping the environment, cooking your own meals is also a lot healthier. You get to control the ingredients and you know exactly what is going into the dish. Even if you order grilled fish at a restaurant, they may still be dousing it with lots of oil or butter. You will most likely always underestimate the calories in a restaurant meal. At home, there’s no guessing.
Nutrition Habit #4 – Eat in season
Different fruits and vegetables are in season during different times of the year. In the spring, we get asparagus, lettuce, greens, and strawberries. In summer, we get tomatoes, corn, peaches, and plums. In the fall, we get squash, apples, and pears. In the winter, we get squash and potatoes. When you buy produce that is not in season, that means it is coming from somewhere that it is in season. So that means the fruit or veggie has to travel. This equates to fuel being used, as well as your produce not being as fresh or nutritious.
When you buy food in season, you can get it locally, either at your supermarket or at a farmer’s market. You are helping to support local business, while helping to save the environment. Plus you get more nutritious and fresher fruits and veggies.
Nutrition Habit #5 – Reduce waste
Americans waste so much food that it is sickening. When you think about all of the people in this world who are starving, it should make you think twice about throwing food out. There are many ways to limit your food waste:
When you plan your meals for the week, you are going to buy exactly what you need to make those meals. If you randomly buy vegetables or meat that you might use, there’s a good chance you will end up throwing something out. Make a plan, write a grocery list, and stick to it. (A nutrition consultation can help!)
When you bring food home from the grocery store, rotate the older stuff to the front and put the newer foods in the back. If you buy a bag of baby carrots, and you already have one in your fridge, use a black Sharpie to mark which one needs to be eaten first. You don’t want to end up throwing out a whole bag of carrots because they went bad on you.
Use up frozen food
Do a check in the freezer about once a month. Sometimes we forget what we have in the freezer because things get buried. Make sure you use up any meats, veggies, or meals you have frozen within a reasonable amount of time. If you don’t, it may have to be thrown out.
Clean your fridge
Once a year, give your fridge a good cleaning. Be sure to clean out the vents really well to get any dirt out of them. When the air in your fridge is circulating well, your fridge will run more efficiently. If it is clogged with dirt and dust, it will have to work harder to run, using more energy.
My husband got me composting when we first met. He was appalled that I didn’t do it, and now I am appalled when other people don’t do it. We have a compost bucket under the sink in our kitchen. We throw any fruit and vegetable scraps in it, along with coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags. This saves us so much space in the garbage can. Then we throw it all in a big composter in the backyard. We use this to fertilize our garden, which brings us back to number one. See the cycle?
What are some nutrition habits you have that help the earth, that also follow good nutrition patterns?