5 Tips For a More Sustainable Table
You go to the grocery store, you shop for the day or for the week. But has it ever crossed your mind how harmful the food you put in your shopping basket might be to the environment? Ok, some people don’t care that much about it, or most people won’t even think of it. But I am one who goes shopping and avoids all kinds of plastic and unnecessary packaging, and I try to always bring my reusable bags. I reuse even those paper bags for bulk products.
Then I think people seem to be more mindful about avoiding plastic and reducing their waste. But on the other hand, when it comes to the product itself, are people mindful that some foods might be less sustainable than others? Have you ever though if the food you put on your table for a family dinner is sustainable?
Here are a few tips if you want to eat more sustainably, and why choosing one food over another can be better for the environment.
Photo at the top: Brooke Lark
1. Choose Seasonal Vegetables and Fruits
People are used to have all different sorts of fruits and vegetables available in any shop anytime of the year. But a good tip to eat more sustainably is creating your menu based on the season. Fruits and vegetables on season will taste better, be fresher and possibly more nutritious. And they will usually cost less!
Check out this great guide of seasonal produce in Australia.
2. Eat Sustainable Food: Legumes
According to the University of Western Australia researchers, a wider consumption of grain legumes (such as alfalfa, peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, lupin bean, mesquite, carob) is the answer to improving human health and meeting the increasing global demand for food.
Legumes take inert gases from the environment and turn them into useful ammonium which enriches soil environments. Peas, lentils and peanuts can fix up to 285 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare and can reduce or completely eliminate the need for fossil fuel fertilizers.
Not to say they’re also a good source of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
Photo: Neha Deshmukh
3. Eat less meat. And less cheese, please!
According to Eat Low Carbon, while all livestock have a carbon footprint, ruminant animals such as cattle, goats and sheep release the most greenhouse gas emissions by far. Their unique digestive system constantly generates methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 20 to 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Apart from that, livestock is associated with greenhouse emissions due to the large production of crops used to feed these animals, all the water used on it, as well as deforestation and land use issues.
And what about cheese and dairy products?
If milk comes from cows, it means milk and dairy products are also contributing for a huge emission of methane – a result of their rumination. And since nearly 10 pounds of milk are needed to produce one pound of cheese, you get the drama.
Photo: Annie Spratt
4. Start Eating Crickets. Yes, crickets!
Have you ever considered seeing insects as food?
Well, I have. When I first heard about it, my first reaction was ‘Really? Why?’ – and here I am, two years later, an insectarian! Speaking about the sustainable side of entomophagy (the practice of eating insects by people) – there are more than 1,900 edible insects species worldwide – they are 12 times more efficient in converting feed to meat than cattle.
For your information, including the water used to grow the grain to feed the animal, also known as “virtual water”, 1 kg of chicken requires 3500 litres of water and 1 kg of beef requires 22,000 litres of water. Insects need far less! To produce 1kg of crickets is necessary not even 1 litre of water. Not to speak about feed and land.
You may be thinking: ‘I don’t need to eat insects to have a more sustainable lifestyle!’ No, you don’t need to, but I have to say that replacing some of your meat intake by cricket powder can significantly reduce the impact your food may have on the environment.
And if you’re not convinced yet: crickets are more than ‘just’ sustainable food. Crickets have endless nutritious benefits. Three times more protein than beef, your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 (available mostly from animal sources) in only 1 tablespoon of cricket powder, two times more iron than spinach… to name a few.
Many people ask us, and you might want to learn more: ‘Why crickets?‘
5. Avoid Food Waste: Don’t buy more than what you will actually eat
Food waste in Australia is a big problem. According to Food Wise, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase, adding up to the ever-growing waste management units. Whether you consume organic, animal or plant-based products, they all require energy to grow, harvest, transported and finally brought to your table.
Therefore, here is the golden tip for more sustainable meals: don’t buy more food than what you really need. And if you do, make sure you consume the leftovers in your fridge, and don’t let they get out of control.
Photo: Guus Baggermans
As you can see, it’s not that difficult to have more sustainable eating habits. Just a few changes in your everyday choices will go a long way!
See how each food is related to greenhouse gases emissions.
Want to know how your omelet, pancakes or chocolate chip cookies add up? Check out this ‘Food Score‘.