10 Ideas for a More Sustainable Diet

By Heather Ashare for DietsInReview.com

Words like “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” and “green” have become commonplace in our vernacular.

Today, eating, living, breathing and being with a greater awareness of how our actions affect not only ourselves, but our community and planet has never been so urgent. It is the small actions we do regularly that accumulate to a greater and more long-lasting benefit, the choices you make in your daily eating and cooking practices can have a profound effect on the health of our bodies and planet.

Make a commitment to follow one, five or all of these sustainable eating tips and notice the subtle changes in your world:

1. Eat the whole vegetable. Rather than tossing out the stems of broccoli, Swiss chard, or the greens attached to beets, eat them. Sautee these greens, which are edible and very nutritious, with a bit of olive oil and salt or add them to just about any dish you are making.

2. Turn your basement into a food cellar. If you have a basement, clear off one area and designate it as your food cellar. Squashes, potatoes, root vegetables, onions, and jars of homemade canned summer peaches or tomatoes will stay perfectly fresh for up to six months.

3. Befriend a farmer. At your farmers market, get to know your farmer. Ask them how they grow their crops and what their favorite recipe is for rutabagas or other seasonal produce.

4. Shop for Number 9. At the grocery store, look at the PLU code on produce. Codes that begin with nine are organic.

5. Buy local bread. Eliminate excess packaging and cross-country delivery journeys by sourcing your bread from a local bakery where the bread is made on-site. Or better yet, bake fresh bread at home.

6. Forego canned beans. Buy dried beans, like kidney, black and lentils, in bulk to cut down on cost, energy use and packaging.

7. Become an efficient baker. Ovens require a lot of energy. So the next time you’re baking banana bread, turn the afternoon into a bake fest and make a lasagna, casserole or just simply toss sweet potatoes in the oven along with the bread. You’ll see the difference in your utility bill and your meal-planning just got a lot more efficient.

8. Be picky about meat. Not only should you try to eat less meat, but aim to be an eco-friendly meat-eater. Only buy additive- and antibiotic-free meats, and purchase domestic and seasonal meats when possible.

9. Use less toxic cookware. Many pots and pans contain potentially cancer-promoting toxins. Since cooking further unleashes these chemicals, opt for stainless steel, cast-iron or ceramic cookware, which are much safer and more durable.

10. Replace cloth with paper. Whether you’re keeping bread warm, dusting crumbs off your mouth or cleaning a spill, ditch the paper towels, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil and instead use dish towels. You can buy piles of these at discount stores and just wash them as they become dirty.

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