“Sustainability” notion appeared in the 90’s, and has become a buzz work the past years. We can hear it everyday in many different contexts. It has clearly been abused and is unfortunately loosing its main meaning.
Sustainable food puts the focus on foods that are produced in a way that is beneficial for the environment, supports local communities and is humane to farmers, workers, and animals alike.
Because it is a complicated notion, Food Sustainability is rarely the first factor to make our choice while we do our grocery shopping. Most of the time, our decisions are based on price and convenience. Here are some simple things you can start doing today and that can make a difference:
Buy Local & Seasonal
Food now can travel around the globe from producer to consumer. The further food has travelled, especially if it is refrigerated or frozen, the more energy it has taken to deliver to you. Choosing local & seasonal food is a way to:
- minimise energy used in transportation & storage,
- support local farmers and therefore build resilient communities,
- and increase freshness & quality of the food.
It is also often cheaper!
Eat Less Meat but Better Quality
Meat products are among the most energy & greenhouse-gas intensive food products of all. Reduce our meat consumption is the easiest individual way to reduce our carbon footprint.
To give you an example, green house emissions required to produce a vegetarian meal is about 10 times less than to produce a meal with meat. And it is easy to fulfill our needs in proteins with many delicious ingredients (pulses, nuts, quinoa, seeds, cereals, grains, …)
If you still want to eat meat, best choice when it comes to the environment and animal welfare is to choose Pasture-Raised Meat from Ethical Suppliers. And if you can’t find, choose meat from farms that grass-feed their livestock.
Prefer Fair-Trade-Certified Products
When some products are not produced locally (tea, rice, coffee, chocolate, …) prefer Fair-trade certified products. They guarantee fair trading conditions, respect of human rights, and a bonus payment to allow the producers to support local and regional economies and build stronger communities.
Reduce Waste and Packaging
Almost 70% of primary packaging is used for food and drink. As this packaging is often damaged by residues of the food, it is very difficult to recycle. However, there are many ways to reduce food packaging:
- buy local and seasonal food
- buy in bulk
- bring your own bags for fruits & vegetables
- bring your own Tupperware for fresh products such as cheese, meat, fishes, …
- bring your own grocery bags
- choose products with less packaging and avoid plastic packaging as much as possible
Buy from Organic & Sustainable Farming
Sustainable agriculture supports organic and low carbon food production. It also avoids the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides as well as genetically modified organisms. As a result, it will be much more beneficial to bio-diversity & the environment and offers a long-term investment in soil fertility for future food production.
Organic label guarantees a strictly limited usage of pesticides and the use of natural fertilizers such as compost.
Excludes Fish Species Identified as at Risk
Overfishing is the greatest single threat to marine wildlife and habitats. Nearly 70% of fisheries worldwide have been overexploited or have have already collapsed. If we continue like this, by 2050 most of the fishes are at risk of disappearing.
We can play a key role in securing the future of our seas and marine wildlife by making more environmentally responsible choices when buying seafood from sustainable sources.
Reduce Food Waste
More 30% of all food produced is wasted or spoiled… while 15% of people on the planet are starving or malnourished.
Food waste is really bad for the environment. To give an idea, it takes a land mass larger than China to grow the food each year that is never eaten. And lands keep been deforested, species keep been driven to extinction, indigenous populations keep been moved, soil keep been degraded… In addition, food that is never eaten accounts for 25% of all fresh water consumption globally.
We all waste food unnecessarily. On average, every one of us throws away 70kg of avoidable food a year. So we can all cut down on food waste : don’t over buy, check the use by date and make sure you can use it before it expires, think about what you are going to cook and how to use the left overs, use your freezer and if you can consider home composting!
As a conclusion, Sustainable Food production is really important, not just for our planet, but also for our health and future as well. I hope now you have a better understanding of what makes a food sustainable, you can all make more informed decisions.