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Simple Ways to Practice Food Sustainability at Home

Simple Ways to Practice Food Sustainability at Home

Food Sustainability

Both at home and in restaurants, food sustainability has been a growing trend since the early 2000s. For those unfamiliar, food sustainability is the practice of producing, processing, distributing and consuming food through economically, socially, and environmentally sound methods. The main purpose of food sustainability practices is to ensure we meet our food needs without compromising the potential for future generations to meet theirs. With growing access to information about environmental challenges, food sustainability has become even more of a focus for both the home cook and the restaurant chef. If you’re interested in food sustainability, here are a few simple and sustainable practices you can incorporate in your own kitchen.

Buy Local, Fresh, Seasonal Ingredients

Purchasing produce from local farmers’ markets not only supports local agriculture and produce vendors, but also reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Similarly, purchasing ingredients that are in season aids in waste reduction, biodiversity, and lower energy usage — growing produce out of season typically requires heated greenhouses, which consume a lot of energy. If you live in an area with changing seasons, it’s likely that the organic strawberries you buy in November are from California or other warmer climate areas, thus contributing to your carbon footprint.

Food Sustainability

Food Scraps

When using whole, fresh produce, you will have scraps leftover. Instead of throwing them away, use them as compost along with coffee grounds to enrich your garden soil. No garden? That’s okay. You can use vegetable peels to make your own vegetable stock, sauces, pesto, soups and much more. You can even turn coffee grounds into fertilizer for your indoor plants.

Meal Prep/Planned Meals

Meal prep or meal planning is not just for ease of mind or a healthier lifestyle. It can also help avoid overbuying and wasting food. Commercial companies that prepare pre-cut vegetables often use the scraps to help reduce waste and promote sustainability. At home, you can do the same through meal prep, ensuring you utilize your produce to the fullest.

Food Sustainability

Avoid Prepared Items

Prepared items are enticing for their convenience but come with their own set of problems in terms of food sustainability. Avoid going for items in your grocery store’s deli section like potato salad, cooked proteins, sandwiches, coleslaw or various desserts, as they are often served in plastic containers that are non-biodegradable and notoriously end up in oceans.

Prepared Sandwiches

Use Reusable Bags

Whether you’re shopping at your local grocery store or farmers’ market, use reusable bags to reduce plastic waste. Vendors at the farmers’ market sometimes have cardboard boxes from the day’s shipment of produce. Instead of plastic bags, ask them if you can have a box for your produce. That way, you can use the box the next time you shop or have it recycled.

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Preserve Food

Buying seasonal produce can have its pitfalls depending on where you live, as some ingredients won’t be available in the fall and winter months. Finding ways to preserve food through canning, freezing, or dehydrating surplus fruits and vegetables will extend their shelf life so you can enjoy them during their off-season. Store-bought frozen fruit is just as nutritious as fresh fruit thanks to being picked at peak ripeness and then quickly frozen, so rest assured that you’re not sacrificing the nutritional qualities of your produce even if you freeze them.

Food Sustainability

Freeze Prepared Meals

Like with fresh produce, certain prepared foods can be frozen and enjoyed later, reducing food waste and saving energy through large-batch cooking. Having frozen prepared meals is as convenient as takeout and fast food without the negative impacts of gas emissions, plastic takeout containers, or other waste.

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