Sustainability on the Menu: 12 Ways to Eat Green

What does it mean to eat sustainably or "put sustainability on the menu" and why is it important?

Sustainable eating is about selecting foods that are healthful to both the environment and the individual.

There are many ways to support the benefits of sustainable eating, including: buy locally, growing produce, eating more plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetable, and consuming less animal-based foods such as red meat.

Below are tips to help you get started:

1. Shop locally.

Explore farmers markets and community supported agriculture to find fresh foods that are full of nutrients. Shopping locally is a fun way to support the community and can reduce the cost of fuel needed to ship the food to the grocery store.

Man shopping at a local farmers market.
Woman caring for her herb garden.

2. Start an herb garden.

Start an indoor herb garden and begin by selecting two or three types to grow. Herbs are generally easy to grow and do not take a lot of space.

3. Eat seasonally.

Avoid purchasing fresh foods that are out of season. Instead, consider consuming canned, dried, or frozen options in the off season.

When compared to produce that is grown in heated greenhouses or shipped from far away, frozen or lightly preserved foods are the most sustainable options during the off season.

4. Consume nutritious foods.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Not only are these healthier options, but they are also better for the planet because they reduce water and land use, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution to the soil.

5. Choose organic.

Organic farming can be less detrimental to the environment. This is because there are less chemicals used to produce organic fruits and vegetables.

Man choosing between organic and processed juices.

6. Buy in bulk.

Buying in bulk can save money and reduce packaging. Look for bulk products versus individual packs to help reduce waste.

7. Avoid highly processed foods.

Aim to choose products with minimal ingredients. If there is a long list of ingredients in a product, there are likely many steps that go into manufacturing.

This can leave a greater carbon footprint due to traveling, manufacturing and distributing product.

Food/sugar processing plant.

8. Reduce food packaging.

Extra packaging can fill up landfills. Choose foods that contain natural packaging such as bananas and potatoes.

9. Limit the number of trips to the grocery store.

Plan meals ahead of time to limit the numbers of trips to the grocery store. This will also help save on gas!

Two men food prepping together.
Woman prepping food for a smoothie.

10. Avoid overeating.

Eat just the right amount of food to fuel the body and get more mileage out of weekly groceries. Plan for healthy snacks throughout the day.

11. Minimize meat consumption.

Revisit “meatless Mondays” or reduce meat consumption on a given day. Eating less animal based foods, especially red and processed meat, will greatly reduce environmental impact.

Compared to produce and grains, red meat is the biggest contributor to the carbon footprint.

Woman making a meatless meal.

12. Waste less food.

According to the USDA, 30-40% of the total food supply is wasted. Rather than tossing out food scraps, compost or repurpose leftovers for a new meal.

To get started on sustaining a healthier planet, focus on reducing food loss and waste and eat more fresh, local and organic foods for a healthier environment and a healthier life. Need help getting started? Reach out to our Wellness professionals at GBS.

A group of retired friends enjoying time growing a garden together.
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