Making healthy choices now is more than just for the good health of your body, but your food choices can be healthy for the environment too. You can make food choices which are sustainable, but it could be a little confusing – are healthy food choices sustainable too or are they completely different foods? Research has shown that foods which are good for the body are also good for the environment, which makes it easier to make sustainable food selections. Read on to find out how you can be eco friendly even in your food:
The concept of the double pyramid is quite innovative – it seeks to portray the way the ecological footprints of food are compared to the nutritional value of food. This pyramid, designed by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition in 2010, wanted to merge environmental issues with nutritional guidelines.
They explored the ecological footprint of different foods and their relation to issues such as water usage and greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers discovered that the foods which are most eco-friendly are often the foods which are known as the healthiest for us, for example vegetables and fruits. They also found that most foods which damage our body also damage the environment, for example meats and cheeses.
The exceptions to the double pyramid rule are olive oil and sugary baked goods. Olive oil is extremely ecologically intensive but very healthy whereas sugary baked products are made from grain, but are not healthy for you at all.
Foods which are eco-friendly
The foods which have been produced without the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, bio-engineering and ionizing radiation, as specified by the USDA (the Agriculture department of US), is termed as organic food.
100% organic food is completely organic, foods labelled as ‘organic’ are 95 % organic, foods which have organic ingredients are 70% organic.
Organic food is eco friendly as farmers use renewable resources, making an effort to conserve water and soil, and the company which processes or handles that food is also certified organic.
Sustainable food is about eating food which is locally grown, by sustainable methods of agriculture. This method of foods production protects the environment and is seasonal. Sustainable farming is humane to animals and the land, pay food growers fair prices and supports communities to distribute their food via farmer’s markets and so on.
Grass fed / Open pasture
Grass fed means livestock which received grass outdoors and indoors for a period in their lives. Open pasture or pasture raised animals can roam outdoors freely, where they eat food which is best for them.
The foods which are processed minimally, and stay as close to their original, whole state are called natural foods. These foods do not adhere to organic food specifications, but they usually do not have preservatives or artificial ingredients.
Free range / cage free
Cage free means poultry which were not raised in cages but does not mean they had access to open air. Free range poultry generally means poultry which has been given access to open air.
Fair trade certification
This label on coffee, tea, sugar or rice means the growers were paid fair prices.
Marine Stewardship Council
This label on seafood means that the salmon or other seafood had been caught without causing harm to the environment or endangering the species.
Other things you can do to eat eco friendly
If you buy local, you are minimizing food miles as food which is imported or travels long distances have greater carbon emissions during transportation. The cost of energy used in freezing is also reduced when you buy local.
Check the packaging
Buy products with biodegradable packaging; avoid plastic as far as possible. Carrying reusable cloth grocery bags would reduce your carbon footprint too.
Shade grown or bird friendly
You might see this on coffee packaging, it means the coffee was grown providing shade for the plants and habitat for birds which are migratory.
Everything that you eat impacts the environment, and we should make food choices which are least damaging to the environment. Organic, natural and sustainable foods are eco friendly food choices, which are healthy too.