Everybody talks about it but what does this actually mean?
In this episode we break down our definition of sustainability, and ways that you can eat more sustainably at home.
But first, we are super excited to announce that we are being honored by Unilever, a consumer goods company that makes some of your favorite brands, including Lipton ® tea. As part of their Agents of Change Program, Unilever is recognizing dietitians (like us) who are passionate about creating a healthier, more sustainable future.
One of the key pillars of the Agents of Change program is sustainability. Specifically, making food that’s good for people, the public health and the planet. That’s something that’s important to us. We figured it would be excellent to make a podcast about this topic.
What does sustainability mean to us?
Sustainability essentially means creating and maintaining conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, making sure that the planet is healthy for our generation and future generations.
You’ve probably heard of the term “going green”… and the truth is there are many different ways we can be more sustainable. Everything down to the air conditioner we use or the car we drive (or don’t drive) can have an effect on the environment.
Actions you can do to make the world a more sustainable place:
1. Eat more plant-based meals.
As many of you know, we both eat plant based diets and are huge advocates of plant-based eating (which is why we created a whole plant-based cookbook for you, which launches on Jan 3rd 2017!). Just for a refresher, plant based foods include: fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds. Not only is this way of eating super healthy, it’s also good for the environment.
Eating more sustainably can also have a positive impact on your health. One study found that adopting plant-based diets could reduce incidence of type II diabetes by about 25 percent, cancer by about 10 percent and death from heart disease by about 20 percent relative to the omnivore diet.
Adopting a plant-based diet could also prevent most or all of the increased greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction. And according to the Harvard School of Public Health, if we all shifted to a more plant-based way of eating, we would help reduce freshwater withdrawals and deforestation.
If you need plant-based recipes, we have a TON our website here.
2. Become a locavore.
One of the best ways to eat more sustainably is to eat food that is locally produced. This means your food doesn’t travel long distances to the grocery store.
One common definition of “local” food, is food grown within 100 miles of its point of purchase, or where you buy it. Two great ways of eating locally are shopping at the local farmer’s market or getting involved in community supported agriculture or a CSA.
A CSA is a network of community members who purchase a subscription to a farm box for a part of the year. The farm box is typically delivered to you once-a-week, and it’s filled with delicious produce from local farms. We’ve both been members of CSA’s before and love it.
Find a farmer’s market or CSA in your area here.
3. Eat less meat.
We know that meat production is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. This is specifically true for beef production.
You have to remember that raising livestock uses a lot of recourses. You need food, land, water. All of this takes up more energy than plants. We definitely think meat can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, but try to limit your meat portion to one fourth of your plate. It’s even better if you can choose some plant-based protein sources. Some of our favorites are beans, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Also remember that ½ of your plate should be vegetables, which will add even more plants to your plate, which is a key pillar in sustainable eating.
4. The type of seafood you eat matters.
Certain species of fish are produced in ways that harm the marine environment or they are at risk of being overfished. Sustainable seafood varies from area to area. If you want to know what the most sustainable seafood options are near you, a great website to check out is http://www.seafoodwatch.org/. They basically narrow down the best choices, good alternatives and seafood options to avoid in each state.
5. Don’t waste food.
Food waste is a big issue in America. In 2012, Americans ended up wasting nearly 40% of all the food we produced. One of the best ways to eliminate food waste is by meal planning. Meal planning is something we live by. Here are our favorite tips for planning your meals:
- Spend one day/week creating a meal plan
- After you make the plan, create a grocery list based on these meals. It might be helpful if you think of 3 ingredients you want to repurpose between meals throughout the week. For example, if you buy kale, you can make a kale salad, enjoy kale tacos, and cook sauteed kale as a side dish.
- Make sure to always check the fridge and cabinets to prevent buying something you already have. Double buying happens all of the time and is a huge waste of money and creates food waste.
- After you buy your groceries you’re going to want to make sure to store it properly. Store Chopped foods in an airtight container. Here is a container set we use.
6. Learn how to compost (it’s really easy!)
When I first moved to the Bay Area, CA (Jess), I noticed that everyone was composting. I wanted to learn how to compost myself, so I did more research and started a compost bin. The important things to note is that when organic matter (food scraps, leave, grass clippings) breaks down – you get compost, a dark, dirt like soil that’s usually crumbly and smells like a forest floor. Compost is great because it’s rich in nutrients, returns these nutrients to the soil. These natural materials are biodegradable, but do not break down properly in landfills. Also remember that ANYONE can compost – whether you have a 200 acre farm or a 200 square foot apartment. Each ton of organic matter we can divert from a landfill can save 1/3 of a ton of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment.
We want to give a special thank you to Unilever, our podcast sponsor. You can learn more about Unilever’s sustainability efforts here.
If you liked this episode, make sure to do us a huge solid and share this podcast with your friends. We also need you guys to help spread the podcast word by rating our podcast in iTunes and Sticher. The more you rate and review, the higher our podcast ranks, which means more people will benefit from this information and our efforts here at Food Heaven Made Easy.