Global warming is nowhere near on the mend. As it makes its way into daily headlines, it can often make people feel powerless.
Many find their own ways of fighting back against climate change. They might recycle, compost leftovers or grow their own food. Yet, did you know there are other eco-friendly ways to make mealtimes sustainable?
Food waste and unhealthy meals can have negative impacts on the environment. Therefore, it’s all up to you in the food choices you make.
If you want to adopt eco-friendly eating habits for your family, here are some helpful tips on how to accomplish them.
1. Eat Less Meat
A report in Nature Food showed a diet high in animal products is problematic for the environment. Researchers determined the global food system — including agriculture and land use or land-use change — accounts for 71% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Meat production also leaves the largest carbon footprint. Therefore, you could significantly help the planet if you reduced your beef consumption.
While you don’t have to eliminate meat from your diet, gradually cutting back will make a great first step. Consider reducing your family’s red meat consumption to once a week or a few times monthly. There are various other ingredients you can get your protein from when it comes to a nutritious diet.
2. Purchase Local Food
Buying food from local sources reduces greenhouse gasses because they don’t require nearly as much fuel to transport them. It also means you cut back on processed foods, encouraging you to cook fresh meals at home.
Local foods taste better since farmers pick them at their peak. This also means they’re more nutritious because the longer they’re in transport, the fewer nutrients they’ll have when they get to you.
Buying local also has its perks for your community. It helps farmers with land, water and biodiversity preservation. Plus, it supports the town or city’s economy.
Consider bringing the kids to your local farmers market or eating at restaurants supporting these food producers. Overall, buying locally benefits your health, your community and the environment. That’s a world of difference within itself.
3. Eat More Plants
Having a more sustainable diet is linked to environmental impact. Therefore, if your goal is to eat more healthily and sustainably, consider having a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and unsaturated oils.
Red meat and processed foods can cause high cholesterol, which doctors and scientists know causes plaque buildup in the arteries — driving health problems later down the road.
Following a sustainable eating habit is good for the Earth and your family’s health. A plant-based diet is beneficial in preventing chronic disease and lowering your overall mortality risk.
Plus, you can get the essential vitamins and nutrients for a healthy, balanced diet.
4. Store Food Properly
Does your food go bad before you’ve had a chance to eat it? That’s likely because you haven’t stored your food correctly, contributing to food waste.
Instead of throwing out the bananas that were sitting on your counter, you could’ve made them last longer by placing them in the fridge. Meanwhile, tomatoes have a longer shelf life when you store them on your counter.
You have plenty of ways to store your fresh foods, so here are a few tips on how:
- Greens and herbs: Place them in a sealed bag. This reduces oxygen flow and maintains nutritional value.
- Citrus fruits: Store these in a mesh bag to reduce the oxygen flow.
- Berries: Keep them dry and wait to wash them until you eat them.
- Asparagus: Store them upright in a glass of water. This keeps the asparagus bunch fresh and hydrated.
- Carrots: Remove the leafy green stalks to preserve the nutrients found in carrots.
- Celery: Wrap them in aluminum foil to release the natural ripening agents and make them last longer.
- Mushrooms: Store in a paper bag. This will absorb the moisture and give mushrooms extra room to breathe.
5. Reduce Food Waste
According to the World Wildlife Fund, 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste globally, which is responsible for 6%-8% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Unfortunately, food waste goes to landfills — major contributors to methane gas emissions. Plus, you can imagine how all that waste could feed every household in need worldwide.
The best way to reduce food waste is to plan weekly meals. Be mindful when grocery shopping so you only buy what you need. If you have leftovers, you can always repurpose your meals into new recipes or freeze and reheat them for the future. Ensure you label your foods, too. That way, you know what to eat before it expires.
In addition, you can create a backyard composter to throw out the organic waste. Some stores also sell produce with blemishes at a discounted price, so you could pick those up before they go to the trash can.
Commit to More Eco-Friendly Mealtimes
Rest assured that what you’re doing for the planet is good, even with minor changes. Eating more sustainably requires a lifestyle change. Therefore, you must take baby steps to avoid overwhelming yourself in the long run.
Consider these tips for healthier eating habits today to sustain a better quality of life for you and your kids tomorrow.
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