We all know that being sustainable is great for the planet. It can also have pretty great benefits for you too. Here is how you can have the best of both worlds.
Choose package free food
Avoiding the processed food aisles in the supermarket is one of the best ways to cut unnecessary amounts of sugar and salt from our diets, but you are also doing the earth a huge favour too. Many packaged products at the supermarket contain layers of plastic, which largely cannot be recycled. By focusing on unpackaged, whole foods you can add a wider range of densely nutritious foods to your shopping trolley. Bulk food stores are becoming more popular where you can buy whole grains, nuts and dried fruit without packaging to stock up your cupboards, and even treat yourself with carton free chocolate. Not only will you reduce the amount of plastic being piled up in landfill, but you also reduce your exposure to marketing strategies of companies depicting a health ‘halo’ around their products, which may not deliver on those ‘wellness’ claims.
Eat seasonally and locally
Eating seasonal food has been growing in popularity over the years. Many high end restaurants in Australia are following the trend to provide their customers with the highest quality food, as well as supporting local farms and reducing their impact on the environment. Eating seasonal food grown locally can help to reduce the ‘food miles’ of a product. Food miles is a term commonly used to represent how far produce has to travel before it lands on your plate. Fresh produce with thousands of food miles flown across countries increases the time between being picked and being tossed into a salad at home. Not only is this a disastrous waste of energy but it also induces loss of essential vitamins. Time, heat, and light are all factors that reduce vitamin content in fresh fruit and vegetables. Vitamin C is one of the most sensitive and can be lost in a product just sitting out in room temperature.Kramer A. Effect of storage on nutritive value of food. Journal of food quality. 1977 Apr;1(1):23-55 Fruit and vegetables are usually placed in cold storage for months to allow us to have certain varieties all year round, although this leads to small vitamin losses over time. Locally grown, seasonal food will have the highest nutrient quality and will be fresher and more flavourful.
Use the whole food
Australians throw out 20% of the groceries they buy. The most commonly thrown away food items are fresh food such as fruits and vegetables. This can be a major issue when these organic items begin to rot in landfill creating large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane. Commonly thrown away food scraps include fruit and vegetable skins. Eating carrots, potatoes and apples with their skin on increases fibre and phytonutrients which are concentrated just under the skin. You can be creative by adding different edible parts of vegetables such a broccoli stalks into dishes to add new textures.
Reduce plastic use
Reusable bags are the epitome of the sustainable movement. The green bags you see every second shopper whip out at the checkout is one of the first steps people make to reduce their plastic use. Next reusable coffee cups came into fashion, helping to minimise the 100,000 coffee cups that are binned every hour in Australia, and no, they cannot be recycled. The amount of plastic being thrown away into our environment is having disastrous effects not only on our planet, but ourselves. Concerningly, the amount of microplastics being detected in our water supply is growing. An investigation by Orb media studied tap water from around the world and found on average 83% of samples were contaminated with microplastics. Our oceans are also awash with plastic, which can trickle up the food chain and be detected in the seafood on our plates. Seltenrich N. New link in the food chain? Marine plastic pollution and seafood safety. Environment health perspective. 2015;123(2):A34-41. The effect that these microplastics could have on our bodies is still being studied, which is unsettling as we do not know the entire effect of our plastic obsession. Links to hormone health, effects on our immune system and inflammation have already been found. Bouwmeester H, Hollman PCH, Peters RJB. Potential health impact of environmentally released micro- and nanoplastics in the human food production chain: experiences from nanotoxicology. Environmental Science and Technology. 2015 Aug 4;49(15):8932-47.
By making some small changes in your everyday life such as choosing more package free, locally grown food, reducing food waste and swapping to easy plastic free alternatives such as reusable coffee cups; you can help to make a real difference in our environment, and reap the health benefits too.
References [ + ]
|1.||⇪||Kramer A. Effect of storage on nutritive value of food. Journal of food quality. 1977 Apr;1(1):23-55|
|2.||⇪||Seltenrich N. New link in the food chain? Marine plastic pollution and seafood safety. Environment health perspective. 2015;123(2):A34-41.|
|3.||⇪||Bouwmeester H, Hollman PCH, Peters RJB. Potential health impact of environmentally released micro- and nanoplastics in the human food production chain: experiences from nanotoxicology. Environmental Science and Technology. 2015 Aug 4;49(15):8932-47.|