There’s nothing like eating fresh fruits and vegetables right when they’re in season, or finding that perfect cold dish for a hot summer’s day or that stew for a cold winter’s night. Food is about eating what we love, eating what tastes good, and eating to stay healthy, but how we pick our ingredients for these delightful dishes makes a difference too.
Eating sustainably is about making food choices that do more than fill our bellies. It’s about picking food that supports the environment and even creates better conditions for how that food is packaged, distributed, and eaten.
Is it easy for you to make sustainable food choices this spring? Yes, and here’s how.
Look at how far your food travels
It’s a given that food must get from where it’s grown/processed to the store where you can buy it, but how far it has to travel matters. The shorter the distance, the less pollution being put into the atmosphere by the delivery trucks and railroad cars bringing the food to a store near you.
To shop for food that travels the shortest distance, you have to know where it’s coming from. While this isn’t always easy, one way to improve your odds is to eat what’s in season in your area. Food grown locally always travels a shorter distance, and eating with the season means more local options. For example, if you’re eating strawberries in the middle of winter, they’ve probably come all the way from Florida rather than from the farm the next town over.
You can check out what’s in season in your area and then adjust your menu to fit what’s locally produced. Specifically, during a Michigan spring, you’re looking at produce like lettuce, asparagus, leeks, mushrooms, plenty of fresh herbs, and more.
When it comes to meat and poultry, see if you can figure out what producers are the closest to your store and try to shop through them first.
Grow some of your own produce
To combat the issues of packing when it comes to many foods, you can act more sustainably by growing some produce of your own.
Instead of taking everything home from the store in individual plastic bags, you can bypass packaging all together by picking it fresh from your garden. The trick is to grow enough of your most-used items that you won’t have to supplement at the store. You can most likely plant a spring/summer and fall garden to get a nice variety of at-home produce that’s ready to go straight into your next recipe.
And, when it comes to things like herbs, you can even create a small, potted garden, grown indoors. This will give you fresh herbs to use all year round instead of having to buy these at the store when they’re not in season.
Shop for certain items in bulk
There are certain foods though, you can control how far they travel, or what kind of packaging they come in. To loop these foods into your sustainable eating practices though, buy in bulk.
Buying in bulk means fewer trips to the store for you, which reduces carbon emissions overall, and less plastic packaging used. It’s shopping smart in a different way, but still a sustainable practice.
Some of the best items for bulk buying include:
- Peanut butter
- Olive Oil
- Canned goods
Not only is shopping this way smart for the environment, but as a bonus, it can also help you cut down on your grocery costs as well.
Try some new recipes
With all of these strategies in place to make it easier to shop sustainably, the next thing to do is look at the meals you cook. Do you use a lot of frozen or processed food when preparing a meal? If so, consider trying some recipes that put fresh food front and center. They may require a little more preparation but will help make it easier to make what you eat more sustainable.
Search for some elevated salads, that are more than just lettuce, or whole grain bowls featuring seasonal veggies. Soups are also a great way to get a lot of in-season food items into a single meal as well. When it comes to dessert, swap out sweets for in-season fruit and a little ice cream or yogurt.
How to take sustainability one step further
Sustainable eating still requires you to go to the store, so make sure how you get there also has a positive impact on the environment. Being conscious of where you fuel up when it’s time to drive to the grocery can mean the difference between reducing your carbon footprint or not.
Taking advantage of the SpeedyQ Drive program, each time you fill up at any SpeedyQ Markets location, you’re automatically offsetting up to 10 pounds of carbon dioxide. Without doing anything extra, just by putting the gas you need into your tank, you’re helping invest in carbon offsetting projects.
Should you feel thirsty while you’re fueling up, run into SpeedyQ Markets and grab a drink without guilt. When you purchase an in-store beverage, whether it’s hot or cold, the energy generated to make that cup is offset 100 percent.
How you eat, what you eat, and where you fuel up your car to get to the store can all work together to help you live more sustainably in support of the world around you.