Have you ever considered how sustainable your current diet is? Many of us focus on the health properties of the foods we eat, but far fewer of us actually worry about where our food comes from and how sustainable it was to produce. Now more than ever, it’s important to know where your food is coming from and, just as importantly, how it was made. By unknowingly supporting businesses that generate excessive waste or engage in unethical practices, you can contribute to the problem without even realizing it.
If you’re passionate about helping our planet and are motivated to find ways to make a greater impact, here are a handful of ways you can shop more sustainably for the foods you eat.
Sustainable Food Shopping
#1 Purchase less packaging.
Many food products come pre-packaged in plastic bags, cardboard boxes, aluminium wrappers and other protective coverings. While it’s important to receive food free from contamination, lots of items are shipped with excessive packaging.
You can reduce your impact on the environment and shop more sustainably for your food by buying more items in bulk. Many mainstream grocery stores are expanding to include a small bulk section, but you can often find speciality shops or more health-centric stores with impressive bulk collections of everything from rice and granola to nuts and seeds.
As a bonus, since these items aren’t overly packaged or processed, food available in bulk is often cheaper than the same items found in the regular aisles. Check out the bulk section at your local grocer the next time you need to stock the fridge. You might be surprised by what you find!
#2 Eat seasonally.
When you think about it, it’s absolutely amazing that you can find all manner of fruits and vegetables available year-round in grocery stores. It just isn’t realistic to think that strawberries are in season 365 days a year. Instead, many “fresh” fruits and vegetables are grown in other countries and shipped in, or they’re preserved using processes and chemicals that can cause questions.
Focus on buying locally grown fruit and vegetables. This way you’ll not only reduce food waste and your carbon footprint, you’ll also ensure a healthy rotation in your diet, and enjoy fruits and vegetables when they are at their freshest!
#3 Shop for seeds and grow your own groceries.
One of the best ways to move toward sustainability is to find ways to provide for yourself. Growing fresh food from the earth can be a great way to cut costs, get familiar with the growing process, and nudge your family toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
If you’ve got a green thumb or are simply curious to try your hand at gardening, plant some easy-to-grow herbs and veggies you know your family will love. Gardening can be a lot of work, but if you have the time to make the commitment, you’ll be rewarded with a sustainable way to incorporate more healthy options into your diet. Plus, you’ll save money on your weekly food bill!
#4 Consider a CSA.
See if you can find a CSA in your area. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and they are often a great way to bring locally grown food into your home at a reasonable cost while supporting a nearby farmer. In most traditional CSAs, members purchase a portion of the crop upfront and pick up a bundle of fresh veggies and fruits from the harvest on a regular basis during the growing season.
Most CSAs embrace organic growing practices, but you should always do your research before spending your money to ensure you’re supporting the right cause.
#5 Visit your local farmer’s market.
Similar to a CSA, farmers markets can be great places to purchase fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other locally produced items like cereals and baked goods. They often aren’t restricted to food – you can sometimes find anything from handcrafted candles and lotions to locally-produced artwork for sale too!
Since most of the food you’ll find at farmers markets is being sold directly by the grower, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to make sure it meets your standards.
I hope this post has given you some sustainable shopping ideas. Just a little effort can go a long way if we all do our part. So what are you waiting for? Implement these simple steps next time you go food shopping!
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