5 Steps to Sustainable Eating

Your kitchen is one place where changing to a more sustainable lifestyle won’t feel like a sacrifice—you might just find you’re enjoying your food more than ever. We did. Here are five easy guidelines.

1. Eat Local

A typical piece of produce travels at least 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Cut down your "food miles" by buying local food. Shop farmers' markets, read the labels in supermarkets, or take the family out to the farms! 

2. Eat Seasonal

Food that’s in season doesn’t need to be flown in from around the world or grown in gas- or coal-burning hothouses. It’s also at its peak of taste and nutrition. Buying bulk in season keeps down the cost of local and organic foods. Here’s our seasonal food chart: 100milediet.org/bc-seasonality-chart. What’s yours?

3. Eat Organic

You know that organic farming reduces pesticide and chemical fertilizer use. Studies also show that organic farming can radically reduce the energy used - and the greenhouse gases produced - to raise what we eat. Taken together, organic crops can cut the environmental costs of agriculture in half.

4. Eat Your Vegetables

It takes less energy and land to produce vegetable foods than animal products. At the same time, humane animal care requires more space for animals to range freely. If we want sustainability and better living conditions for the animals we eat, we're going to need to consume less dairy, eggs, and meat.

5. Eat Low on the Ocean Food Chain

The world's fisheries are in crisis. Help them recover by eating fewer big, long-lived fish (tuna, salmon, snapper) and choosing small fish and shellfish (clams, oysters, sardines). For a list of sustainable fish stocks in the United States, visit mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp. In Canada, go to seachoice.org.

J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith are the authors of the new book Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Year of Local Eating (Harmony Books).

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