Food waste, like many unintended “side effects” of consumerism, is running rampant. It starts slowly with the corner of the bread here, a wilting lettuce over there and leads to that long-forgotten-something-or-other in the back of your over-sized fridge.
So, where do you begin to reduce your foodprint, make a positive impact on the environment and slim your waistline all at the same time?
1. Eat local.
Fresh, locally grown food, harvested at the peak of its nutrition is the best for you and your children. The tiny carrots with specks of dirt, the slightly bumpy apples and odd shaped tomatoes are all beneficial for your health. Don’t even consider them unsightly, not for a second! Nature isn’t perfect and gardens and gardeners are not trying to churn out 3 cm long pickles that are perfect for packaging; plant growth is much more complex than that. It is easy to fall prey to uniformity, just remember, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
2. Unbrand and unpackage your grocery list.
Forget labels, that’s not where the real food is at! Rather than read lists of ingredients, fill your own grocery list with items that have names that you can spell: raw milk, grass-fed beef, bacon, carrots, onions, garlic, millet, oats, kohlrabi, parsley, sauerkraut. Start preparing and cooking your breakfast, lunch and dinner at home and you will taste the difference between a can of (insert brand name here) soup and a hearty chicken soup made with the whole (innards included) chicken.
When you shop at farmers markets, or the grocery store, take your own sustainable fabric bags made of hemp or organic cotton and reduce the amount of plastic you consume with every step. While skipping the branded foods in the freezer aisle, consider unbranding your clothes as well.
Strawberries in March! Are you kidding? Maybe from somewhere south of here, or grown in a poly-tunnels – neither of which help you reduce your foodprint. As you eat locally, you also eat in season and that is going to give you a wonderful feeling of being connected to the land. Grocery stores make it seem like fruits and vegetables are there for you all year round, in reality that year-round food is probably flown in from hundreds of miles away with a carbon footprint greater than you can imagine. Eat your apples in late summer and winter, the berries when ripe and by all means preserve when you can, just like your grandma used to.
4. Go gluten free. Or at least wheat free…
Grains are everywhere, wheat is the most ubiquitous intruder served as an over-the-counter drug on every street corner. Wheat is found in plain sight in pizza crust, bread, cereal, muffins and jacket-ing hamburgers and hotdogs, then there is the pasta aisle and that’s what most breading on meats, including fish in your fish and chips is made of, what’s more, somehow sneaks its way into the dairy aisle too as a thickener for sour cream… For the gluten aware and sensitive, it can sometimes be hard to avoid. If you are concerned about your health, you might want to read Wheat Belly and trim your waistline by avoiding modern wheat completely.
In your pantry learn to stock up on basic ingredients so that you don’t need to run to the store with every new recipe that comes your way. Rice comes to mind, corn flour, beans, lentils, nuts… Take your own packaging and reduce your foodprint and footprint that way.
6. Buy only what you can comfortably carry by hand and foot.
Once you have stocked up on staples, consider only buying what you can carry with your own arms and legs. Try two shoulder bags and two handbags if you are fit, go more often but lift less if you are just getting into shape. Food weighs a lot, so experience the weight of what you are about to consume for the week. Pounds upon kilos, no car will show you that. This way you are less inclined to throw bites to the wind or to let the cheese go moldy.
7. Appreciate every bite!
It may take a radical change in your diet to reduce your foodprint, but the effort will reward you with abundant health and trust in a local economy that puts agriculture in the hands of willing farmers, not only in corporations bound for the bottom line.
Of course, you can grow your own as well… and who would waste that?!