Sustainability in Nutrition
Sustainability – it’s a pretty trendy word right now. Everything from our cars to our appliances to our homes are built with sustainability in mind. But, what does this really mean and how does this apply to nutrition? According to the EPA, sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist…to support present and future generations. In the world of nutrition, sustainability means practices that grow, farm, and produce food in a way that meets the needs of the current generation, while preserving the needs of future generations. Sustainable practices also encourage local food production, ensure everyone’s nutrient needs are met by providing affordable and accessible food, and protect farmers and laborers, and the community.
Here are a few ways you can support a more sustainability food ecosystem:
1. Eat local and eat in season.
The further food has to travel, the more resources are required – fuel, labor, and the energy required to keep the food fresh. Buying local and shopping at local farmers’ markets supports the local community. Many grocery stores have started selling locally-grown produce, as well. Buying local means you’re buying more seasonal fruits and vegetables; produce purchased in season is often fresher and has less food miles. Eating in season also promotes food biodiversity.
2. Promote food biodiversity
We are creatures of habit in that we tend to eat the same types of food. For example, about 90% of the seafood Americans consume consists of 10 species; the top four being salmon, tilapia, shrimp and tuna. Demand and supply are inter-related; and because we demand these four different fish, there is risk of over-fishing. Eating a variety of plants and animals or planning meals around seasonal vegetables and fruits lessens the stress we put on the environment and the stress we put on farmers to provide these foods year-round. It also allows the ecosystem the time to rest and regenerate to produce the following year.
3. Save the Food
The best way to be sustainable is to cut food waste. We always have the best intentions when we purchase fruits and vegetables; but without a plan, they can go un-used and end up in the trash. Wasting food not only wastes the actual product; it also wastes the resources used to produce the food. Eat or freeze your leftovers, buy less than you think you need, or make a plan and stick to it. Need a help with making that plan? Join Texins Supermarket Sweep* nutrition program. Participation in the nutrition program is optional and completely voluntary.
4. Eat more plants
Plants require fewer resources to produce. Water, plants, and land are all required to raise animals. While these things are also required to grow vegetables, fruits, and other plants, the return on investment is much higher – that is, we get more for our money. You don’t have to eliminate meat or animal products from your diet completely, but cutting back on animal foods and eating more plants benefits everyone. Make your vegetables the main dish, and make the meat the side dish. Join the meatless Monday trend, and eat a plant-based dish one time per week.
*Texins Supermarket Sweep runs from April 16-May 24. Registration is open through April 19.