Earlier this month on 5th June was World Environment Day. This day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and is a day everyone can get involved in. As a Nutritionist, Chef and Mother, a related area I am passionate about is food sustainability.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of sustainable food, it is essentially food that is:
- produced in a way that is beneficial to the environment and ecosystems;
- supportive of rural and urban communities;
- sourced locally in an ethical way; and
- optimises food security for future generations.
Here are 5 tips on how you can contribute to food sustainability at home:
Schedule in weekly meal planning: when we plan meals we are less likely to buy excess food, which often goes to waste. Meal planning doesn’t have to take hours, simply allocate 30mins once or twice weekly. When planning meals, opt for meals, which can easily be frozen in batches, this will not only save time in the kitchen but also be sure to cut down on food waste. I also recommend having a ‘what’s in season’ guide handy so you know which seasonal vegetables and fruits to base meals around.
Adopt meat free Monday or schedule in a few vegetarian meals weekly: Reducing consumption of beef and sheep is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If this task sounds daunting at first, start slow and cut back the quantity of meat used in meals. A few of my favourite ideas include beef and black bean/lentil patties, adding lentils and mushrooms to a bolognese sauce and mincing walnuts and adding to a pasta sauce.
Prioritise wholefoods: enjoying a wholefood diet means choosing foods that have not been processed and/or refined. Processed and refined foods use more energy and resources during food processing. Along with enjoying a wholefood diet, focus on using the entire food, some examples include:
- Using carrot tops and fennel fronds in dips eg pesto
- Using vegetable stems and stalks such as broccoli, cauliflower and celery in soups and stir-fry’s
- Making a stock and soup from an entire chicken
- Using cheese rind to add to stocks and soups for flavour
Invest in a home compost: setting up a compost bin is an inexpensive way to make sure food scraps do not go to waste and instead are recycled into nutrient rich soil for your garden or home-grown food.
Reduce food packaging where possible: when purchasing food think about how it is packaged and opt for more sustainable options such as:
- Purchase fruit/veg in a basket or recyclable box as opposed to plastic bags;
- Visit ‘bulk/scoop’ health food stores and buying nuts, seeds and grains in glass jars brought from home
- Take your own lunch to work in a reusable container instead of buying ‘take-away’
- Buy your own reusable coffee cup and take to cafes instead of relying on take-away containers.
Implementing some of the above ideas at home are effective ways to contribute to food sustainability. This in turn will have a positive impact on the environment and will likely help you save on food costs!