We have never had so much choice in the western world when it comes to the food we eat. The choices we make have a huge effect on our bodies and on the planet. So let's make sure we're making the right ones. One easy step to eat more sustainably is to look at where all your fresh fruit & vegetables come from.
1. EAT LOCALLY
For me the core fundamentals of eating sustainably are eating what is in season & ultimately what is grown locally in your area. It’s end of spring into early summertime here in New Zealand & if I were to eat seasonally, my diet would include heaps of greens, salads, asparagus, new carrots & beetroot, potatoes if they have been stored well from last season, spring onions, avocados, late broccoli & cauliflower, strawberries, lemons & oranges. Yum what a feast!
Sure eating locally really limits your gastric options but it really helps the environment. It eliminates all the fossil fuels needed to transport fresh fruit & vegetables around the country & the world. Another bonus is that you also end up eating fresher & more nutrient dense food. The more local a fresh product, the fresher it is likely to be. It could have even been harvested that day. Did I mention that the taste is sooooo good! No refrigerated transport needed.
2. SHOP AT LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS
If you are able to source your fresh fruit & vegetables locally I encourage you to take the time to do it. Local markets are a fantastic way to tune into what is being grown & produced in your area. It has been very exciting to see how many Farmers Markets have been popping up all over New Zealand and the world.
These markets are a visual feast of local delights. By buying local you are also directly supporting local business. By buying local the wealth stays within your community. When you purchase your fresh goodies direct from a local grower the money goes straight to them. If you buy from the supermarket the grower ends up with very little for their produce.
3. ASK QUESTIONS
Even at Farmers Markets, start asking questions when buying your food.
Did you grow these veggies?
Are they organic, spray free?
I encourage you to explore who is growing what in your town. If you like what they are doing, start supporting them by buying their produce. Below is delicious, organic produce grown by one of our local growers Puramahoi Fields at Takaka's local market.
It is fantastic to see how well supported they are by our local community. I really enjoyed their beetroot I purchased on Saturday - so juicy, fresh & really flavoursome!
4. SOAK YOUR VEGGIES IN APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
We don’t all have access to local, organically grown food and markets. This means often we are buying produce covered in toxic chemicals. The solution is to wash our fruits and vegetables, but if you are only using the “quick rinse in water” method, you may be eating a lot more chemicals that you bargained for. Instead make a solution of water and apple cider vinegar and soak your produce in that to clean them. It will help remove the chemical residue from pesticides and fertilizers. Of course this won’t solve the problem of the lack of nutrient dense foods from agribusiness.
5. PRESERVE FOODS FOR THE OFF SEASON
Preserving foods as jams, chutneys, sauerkraut, tomato sauce, and whole foods provide a source of lightly processed, canned, dried, or frozen options for the off season that are far more sustainable compared to produce that is grown in heated greenhouses or shipped in from across country or another country.
You can also build friendships and community connections by having canning and preserving group days or evenings.
6. DON’T WASTE FOOD
Sustainable eating goes beyond what is sustainable to the human body through healthy, nutrient dense foods. It also encompasses what is sustainable for our planet. Not wasting food is a significant factor in sustainability, because about 40% of all food produced is never eaten.
Piles of food being left to rot
Unfortunately, we use vast resources—soil, water, fossil fuels, crop inputs—to produce food that is never eaten. Food waste primarily occurs at the consumer level, where people can make a difference.
Check out this trailer for the documentary "WASTED"
Written by Kerryn Easterbrook, caterer, soap maker and owner at Clean Earth Soap & Sustainable Eating tutor on the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course