Eating Sustainably, is of huge importance. Around 30% of the world's Greenhouse Gas Emissions, come from food. What we eat and what we waste, has a massive impact on Climate Change. It also impacts Food Poverty in Developing Nations. There are many ways we can all improve the sustainability of our diets. Here's a list of 7 ways the recipes on this site can help you on your journey to eating sustainably.
1. Eating Meat?
The issue of meat is complex. Whilst some people are choosing vegetarian and vegan diets for environmental reasons, this is not without it's challenges. Everything we eat has some environmental impact. For example, our desire for avocados has led to deforestation in Mexico which increases the level of greenhouse gas emissions. It is also important to recognise that the environmental impact of meat is not all the same.
‘It’s not the cow, but the how’.
The environmental impact between locally sourced, grass-fed produce and factory farmed meat, often produced overseas and then shipped to the UK, is significant. When meat is cheap, you can be fairly sure the welfare has also been cheap. Don’t be fooled by a picture of a farm gate on a cheap chicken in your local supermarket. A local quality butcher will know the farms their meat comes from and often source meat locally. Supporting local farmers who are key workers of our environment and countryside is important. If we choose to eat meat, we should know where it comes from, eat it less often and spend more on it.
2. Reduce Food Waste
The average UK family throws away around £60 of food every month. That’s a massive £720 a year straight in the bin! Planning our meals, only buying what we need and using leftovers can really help reduce this amount. Find tips on reducing your food waste here.
In a world where 24,000 people still die of hunger every day, as a nation we throw away £9.7 billion a year of food (WRAP 2019). Food waste in our landfill sites emits methane gas which is a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. The reduction in CO2 gained by not wasting food would be the equivalent to taking 1 in 4 cars off our roads.
3.Choose Seasonal & Local Produce
Eating produce in season means using food at its best. Research also suggests buying food in season can be up to one third cheaper. Food in season is naturally abundant and hasn’t has to incur long term storage costs. Using fresh ingredients means you get the best nutritional value from the meals you cook. Amazingly, nearly all of the vegetables you find in the supermarkets and greengrocers can be grown in the UK.
Buying home grown seasonal produce helps support both our local communities and economy. Seasonal produce has a much smaller impact on the environment as it hasn't been stored or produced in artificial conditions, which use lots of energy. Strawberries in December I'm looking at you!. For more information visit the Eat Seasonably website.
Buying Fairtrade products is a direct way to help the world’s poor. You get a high quality product and make a real difference in the lives of the people who grow your food. Fairtrade can be the difference between farmers earning enough money to feed their families or not. It’s about decent working conditions and fair terms of trade. The products are less contaminated because they limit the use of harmful agrochemicals and many Fairtrade products are also organic. Visit the Fairtrade website for more information.
5. Choose Organics
Organic food can be better for you because it doesn’t contain traces of any pesticides. Organic meat and dairy products don't contain antibiotics or other drugs, hormones or pesticides. Since organic food doesn’t contain artificial preservatives, it is usually fresher and tastes better. People with allergies to foods, chemicals or preservatives often find that symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organics.
Organic farming is better for the environment. It produces less pollution, conserves water, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility and uses less energy. Pesticides and chemicals sprayed onto plants contaminate the soil, water supply and air. In some cases, they can still be present decades later.
6. Choose Animal Friendly Products
Animal friendly products are ones that have come from animals that have not been industrially farmed. Industrially farmed animals are often confined indoors in cramped conditions. This means they are exposed to high levels of toxins from their own decomposing waste. To counteract the unhealthy conditions, the animals are given constant low doses of antibiotics. They are also routinely treated with pesticides and other additives and can be given hormones to speed their growth and increase productivity. It's worth remembering that when you eat the meat from these animals, you are eating all of those antibiotics, pesticides and hormones too.
Choosing products that conform to recognised welfare standards is a better choice for the planet. The farms these animals are reared on produce less pollution. The RSPCA Assured label makes it easy to recognise products from animals that have had a better life. Visit the RSPCA website for more details.
7. Choose a wider variety of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish
Fish is a good source of many vitamins, minerals and protein and is lower in fat than most meat. The Dept. of Health recommends we eat one portion of white fish and one portion of oily fish each week and there are many recipes on this site to help you do this. Eating a wider variety of fish can save you money against the most common bought fish. Look out for suggestions for cheaper alternatives in the recipes.
Fish with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label, come from stocks that are not in danger and have been sustainably sourced. Visit the Marine Stewardship Council website for more information.