Mom used to always say, “Eat your greens,” but today her advice instead may be “Eat green!”
Its true. Your food choices and how you shop at the grocery store can have an impact on the planet. But you don’t have to convert to vegetarianism to make a positive difference (though that would help too).
There are a few basic tips to keep in mind when planning your next meal. In this case, it is easy being green!
1. Buy organic and/or locally grown food. If you don’t already enjoy eating things that are produced without chemicals or hormones, dip your foot in the organic pool. Start by switching one or two items in your cart, and notice the difference. You get what you pay for – a few extra cents can really add up to a healthier lifestyle for both you and the planet!
With spring in the air, its nearly time for farmer’s markets. They are fun and provide an excellent opportunity to buy fresh, tastier food that was picked at ripeness (not before) and not trucked hundreds of miles for your enjoyment. The local food movement (items grown or produced within 100 miles) is really picking up steam. Mingling at the market is one of my favorite summer past times – kids running around, people chatting and a breath of fresh, healthy air!
2. Engage in green grocery shopping. When you head to the store, read labels and make smart decisions about your purchases. Pick products with minimal packaging, if possible. Your best bets are found on the exterior aisles. In the middle of the store, you’ll find processed foods that don’t have even a hint of green. Don’t forget to bring your canvas shopping bags with you! With 300 billion plastic bags produced each year, we can reduce that number by reusing sturdy, roomy totes instead.
3. Waste not, want not. Start at the top, buy purchasing only the foods you will eat over the next couple of days. People tend to throw out more than 1/3 of the fresh fruits and vegetables that they buy! If your bananas go brown, make them into banana bread! Lemons shriveled? You can still use the zest for recipes, and may even be able to squeeze out enough juice for a green cleaning option (mix with water and vinegar). But the biggest difference you can make is to compost food scraps and waste. When food ends up in landfills, it releases methane as it decomposes – even more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas! A recent National Geographic publication noted:
“The University of Arizona estimates that if every American household reduced the amount of food it throws away by half, we’d cut our entire environmental impact as a country by 25 percent.”
Compost your scraps with a bin, like the one shown on the right. Clean and compact, using a bin can cut down your trash by 25-40%. If you don’t have a yard in which to use your compost, look into other organizations that could use the rich resource. Community gardens and farmer’s markets are a good place to start. Restaurants can – and should- do the same thing!
Are you ready to eat green? Mom would be so proud!