Let's Train to Sustain

The food production industry is one of the top contributors to a declining environmental condition. As one of the largest industries, how do you ensure that food production is going to be sustainable over time?

Buy locally sourced food:  Did you know that food that has traveled a long distance to get into your hands which results in an increased carbon footprint? Well, now you do. On average, food consumption in an American household amounts to 8.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly, with 11% generated from transportation. These food miles can easily be avoided by making your weekly purchases at a farmers’ market near you. If you live in Edmonton, some farmer’s markets you could check out include: Old Strathcona’s Farmers Market, City Market Downtown + 104th Ave Summer Market, 124th Street Grand Market (Summer), and of course University of Alberta’s own farmers market which takes place on Thursdays from 11-2 at Student’s Union Building (SUB).

Buy products that are fair trade certified: Getting all kinds of insanely cheap deals at the grocery stores are great, but at what cost? The labor workers, apparently. Fairtrade is meant to protect farmers from unjust treatment and make sure that they’re paid fairly. Not only is fairtrade beneficial to those that work in the field, but it’s also beneficial for you. Fairtrade certified products mean that you’re getting the best of the best and your purchase decisions are guilt free! A few fairtrade choices you could be making are President’s Choice coffee + organics, Good Earth Coffee, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and you can find more choices here as well.

Eat less meat: Though we’re not asking you to go vegan today, opting for a plant-based diet for just a day out of your whole week may make all the difference. Due to the ever growing demand, the livestock sector produces the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the automobile sector. A meatless diet produces about 50% of the carbon footprint as a meat lover's diet. If cutting out meat entirely isn’t something you’re comfortable with, no problem! You can try swapping up high-impact proteins such as beef or pork for poultry or seafood, which produce less waste. Here’s a list of sustainable seafood choices that you can try.

Eat all parts of the fruits and vegetables: Globally, 40-50% of the 1.3 billion tons of food waste is generated by root crops, fruits, and vegetables. Instead of throwing your broccoli stems and carrot tops into the trash, throw them into the pot! They’ll add more flavor to your creations and you’re minimizing waste, so win-win. Here’s how you can cook from root to stem.

Grow your own food: Instead of those fake plants that are meant to cheer up your living space, plant some herbs instead. Here’s a list of vegetables and herbs that you can grow in these cold months. Other than being good for the environment, you’ll also be able to save some cash as you avoid corporations’ profit margins and sales taxes.

As a consumer, you have a great influencing power in determining what businesses sell in their stores. As you know, with great power comes great responsibility, so take advantage of your already existing power and do your part in practicing sustainable food choices.   

Written by Amy Jo and Ira Amiruddin

Sources:

Carbon Footprint Factsheet. Retrieved from http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet

Food's Carbon Footprint. Retrieved from www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html.

Save Food: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/  

Sustainable Eating 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Food Choices. Retrieved from http://www.murad.com/blog/sustainable-eating-101-a-beginners-guide-to-sustainable-food-choices/

Brands and Companies Selling Fairtrade Certified Products. Retrieved from http://guide.fairtrade.ca/

In Your Face About Food Waste !

Food waste is single-handedly the most unreasonable sustainability issue that continues to plague our society. Not a single person likes wasting food; it’s just something that happens. From a young age, we’re all taught to “eat every last bit of rice on your plate, or else your future wife will have pimples”. But somewhere along the way we decided to take skincare into our own hands. Approximately 30% of all food produced in Canada goes unconsumed, which amounts to a total of $100 billion annually within the Canadian economy. Although we can’t stop big corporations such as [redacted] from destroying our environment at least we can go to bed easy at night if we follow these six easy steps!

Donate: Donate non-perishables to your local food bank; items sitting in your pantry can be used to feed someone in need. Often times we allow non-perishable items like canned beans and dry noodles to pile up in our homes. If waste is defined as anything that does not have use, then keeping non-utilized food items is wasteful.  

Shop conscientiously: Although buying in bulk is more convenient, it often leads to buying more food than needed, which ultimately goes bad and thrown away. To avoid buying too much food, make a grocery list of the type and quantity of food that you need for a discrete period of time, such as your meal plans for a week.

Keep track of the expiration dates: Use the food that will expire first. To keep track of expiration dates, write them down on the food package in a big, bold font using a Sharpie. Store these items so the food with the earlier expiration date is more accessible to you. It is best to do this every time you buy new food. Note that best before dates function as an approximation and not a rule governing when food goes bad.

Take note of refrigerator/freezer contents: Oftentimes, many food items are pushed to the back or bottom and we forget that we even have the food. Make sure to go through what is in your fridge/freezer when planning for your meals or when it gets crowded and include the older food into your meal plan for that week. Organize the food so that the older food is more accessible and noticeable to you when you open your storage unit.

Watch your portion size for every meal: Be mindful of how much food you put on your plate so you are able to finish everything on it. Not only does this prevent wasting food due to piling too much on your plate, it also prevents you from overeating.

Compost: Some food waste, such as onion skin, egg shells, banana peels, and coffee grounds are unavoidable. In order to prevent these items from ending up in the landfill, you can implement a home composting system. This is a sustainable way to convert your waste into something useful!

We hope you found some interesting and helpful tips! Let’s get this bread but only the amount you can eat :-)

Written by Kanesha Calo and Kechao Gao

Sources:
Food Waste: The Issue of Food Waste. (2019). Retrieved from  http://tfpc.to/food-waste-landing/food-waste-theissue

A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada: National Zero Waste Council (2019). Retrieved from http://www.nzwc.ca/focus/food/national-food-waste-strategy/Documents/NZWC-FoodLossWasteStrategy.pdf