What does it really mean to be a sustainable eater? With a growing market for “healthy” and “green” foods, we can often hear terms like “local food”, “organic”, “fair trade”, and “all natural” thrown around that actually lack any significant backing. These words have little to no regulation in the food industry and can be used for greenwashing (making an unsubstantiated claim about the environmental benefits of a product or service). So how can you stay sustainable as a consumer in the food industry?
Be aware (and be wary)
Inform yourself more about the foods you’re buying and consuming. Try to find out information about the source of your food and what effects it has on the environment and on your body.
Shop local & seasonal
Shopping local is a great way to support your local community, especially if you know that the organizations are using sustainable practices! Shopping for things when they’re in season reduces your contribution to transportation costs, fuel use and a far-away producer that you probably know very little about.
A lot of food waste can come from companies and stores throwing away food that looks ugly but is otherwise okay to eat. Our consumer preference plays a part in this contribution to food waste!
Cut down on processed foods
Processed foods originate from the overproduction of crops like corn and soy. Corporations were able to find a new use for these crops – processed foods. The crops used to make these foods take up a large percentage of farmland in the US and are essentially wasting resources that could be used to grow more nutritious, sustainable food.
Creating your own food can make you feel more connected to the very things you put inside your body. In my Food, Media and Literature class here at the UR, we’re learning all about how to grow and make our own foods! When I feel frustrated by all of the negative externalities of the industrialized food system, I find comfort in knowing I can at least grow my very own sprouts in my dorm room, or ferment my veggies myself.
Get in tune with yourself
Usually, I find myself eating the best and being the most aware when I listen to my mind and body. If you treat your mind and body with love and respect, you will find yourself being more sustainable in general and in turn, treating the Earth with more love and respect.
Written by Olivia Giovannini-Dolan, Class of 2020
Photo Credit: Pixabay