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
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/