The typical American diet is not only rich in calories, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol, it is also rich in fossil fuel. Eating healthier and more environmentally friendly are no longer separate issues, but very much intertwined. Some of you may be sick of hearing about this topic. Please don’t quit reading! You may not realize what a big impact some small changes in your meal plans could actually have. So here are some great tips for eating more “green”.
Adapted from an article written by Kate Geagan, MS, RD
1. Eat more plant foods, with smaller amounts of meat. I am not asking you to go vegetarian. But did you know that substituting red meat with vegetables, chicken or eggs one day a week will trim more carbon from your diet than buying all local foods? And not only that, but leaner proteins will also trim weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels and risks for certain diseases.
2. Watch portion size. When you waste food, you waste the energy that was used to grow, transport and cook the food. Take the right portion, and save the rest for another day.
3. Choose foods in a natural state. Heavily packaged and processed foods require more steps which requires more fuel. This is also a HUGE tip for eating more healthy. Ditch the package and stick to the food in it’s original state.
4. Drink responsibly. Liquids are one of the heaviest items to ship, not to mention the cans or bottles wasted. Invest in a reusable water container.
5. Buy local and seasonal products if possible. This not only ensures you fresh, nutrient rich foods, but also decreases transportation costs while stimulating the local economy.
6. Cook more, eat out less. This is a no brainer for nutrition. Most meals eaten away from home are higher in calories, sodium, fat, cholesterol and lower in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But also, the packaging and food waste that occurs makes eating out much less “green”.
7. Eating green can save green. A lot of the strategies that are more environmentally friendly (eating less meat, saving leftovers, reducing packaging waste, filtering your own tap water, etc) are also ways to save extra money. And who doesn’t want that right now?
What do you think of these tips? Do you find them reasonable? Are you already doing some of these things? What other things have you tried?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD