What you choose to put on your plate can have a huge impact on your personal carbon footprint. However, eating sustainably doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go to extreme measures – it could be as simple as eating more intuitively for the planet.
1. Avoid highly processed foods
Foods which have undergone many manufacturing stages with lots of ingredients have a very large carbon footprint; this is due to travelling, manufacturing and distribution. Think about a cereal bar vs a handful of dried fruit and nuts which require little to no processing.
2. Avoid purchasing fresh foods that are out of season
Foods that travel long distances are not typically sustainable. When you purchase fruits in the winter from abroad, the environmental impact is a lot higher than those foods grown in the UK.
3. Use preserved foods in the off season
Preserved foods that are lightly processed are a more sustainable option during the off season compared to produce that is grown in heated greenhouses or shipped in by air transport. Keep a look out for the canned, dried, or frozen versions of your favourite fruits and vegetables.
4. Consider organic foods
Organic food regulations significantly limit the synthetic pesticides that can be used in crop production. They also support the more sustainable soil practices, such as the use of cover crops, composting, and manures.
5. Reduce food packaging
Carboard boxes and plastic wrapping can make a huge impact on sustainability by filling up landfill sites. Try to select minimally processed whole foods with little or no packaging; after all, fruit has its own natural packaging.
6. Reduce food waste
We often use a vast number of resources such as soil, water, and fossil fuels to produce food that is never eaten. Food waste primarily occurs at the consumer level, where people can make a real difference by shopping intuitively and planning their meals.
7. Limit your number of shopping trips
Studies show that travelling to buy groceries may be very impactful. It is important to try and limit the number of trips you make and take advantage of your location whilst you’re there.
8. Reduce meat consumption
Research consistently shows that animal foods have a much larger carbon and water footprint than plant foods. In today’s modern agriculture, we grow plants to feed animals, which are inefficient converters of plants into food. We could cut out the middleman (animals) and eat those plants directly.
9. Grow your own food
Starting a vegetable garden is a great way to become more sustainable, even if it’s just one plant pot to start with. No food miles, no packaging, and no fossil fuels!