Sustainable Food and A Sustainable DietSustainable everyday living - made simple and stylish
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What is sustainable food?
Sustainable food is food produced with the entire food chains ecosystems in consideration. A diet with a low environmental impact is a sustainable diet. Sustainable diets are protective of the ecosystem and environment.
Food shopping is habitual, meaning we know what we like to eat and we shop accordingly. Little thought is given to our food choices by most people. Availability, price and convenience all play a role.
Does sustainable food resonate with you?
What is sustainable farming or sustainable agriculture?
Sustainable farming is understanding and maintaining eco-systems. Every part of nature is fundamental to food and agriculture organization, everything in nature has a role to play. If you think its doesn't then, sure enough, you are missing something and you need to challenge yourself to look deeper. Even pests have a role to play in sustainable farming, they are a source of food say for a useful animal that will help compost your soil.
Sustainable farming means natural resources are replenished without harming the environment in any way for future generations.
Farms Of The Future
Are indoor vertical farms sustainable farming?
Yes, vertical farms are sustainable farming the less distance food has to travel to get to you the more sustainably sourced it is.
But what is vertical farming?
Produce is farmed inside a factories kind of laboratory. Space is maximised through vertical farms, as are resources, water and lights (artificial).
Are indoor vertical farms better than conventional farming?
There is no definitive answer to this at this current moment. Time will tell.
What does this mean for farming in rural communities?
Possibly something yet to be invented, a conventional farm used for certain orchard style produce meets city farm for smaller products in a harmonic sustainable balanced?
Whatever the outcome of vertical farming, the ecosystem needs to be of the utmost consideration.
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Does organic food mean its sustainable?
Yes and no. Like most people when you delve into this question you may be shocked at the findings.
What is organic food?
Organic food is grown without synthetic inputs such as chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Organic farms instead use natural approaches and fertilizers, such as crop rotation and manure, to control pests, diseases and weeds. This minimizes the exposure of farmworkers, consumers, and the environment more broadly to harmful pesticides.
Organic farm practices are not necessarily always the most sustainable option. To control pests and weeds without using pesticides, organic farmers often lay down sheets of black plastic over the soil surrounding their crops. This warms the soil and accelerates the rate of plant growth while preventing erosion. Black plastic also allows the usage of drip irrigation, which lets water drip slowly into the roots of plants, saving water. However, the glaring issue with lining huge swaths of land with single-use plastic is that it creates an immense amount of waste. Biodegradable plastic, a more sustainable alternative, isn’t allowed under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (and other country's) organic rules because it contains petroleum.
Many small or community-based farms grow crops in a way that is just as, if not more, sustainable than “organic” food production.
According to this information from Columbia University, the answer is both, a combination of organically sourced conventional agriculture is best.
Considering your diet is far more important to sustainability than whether it is organic. That being said I believe heavily in support organic produce. I believe this means fewer toxins in the earth, air and in your body.
If sustainability is your ultimate aim ie your overall carbon foot-print then considering what foods you are eating is the answer.
The carbon footprint of food
It's time to consider your food choices in more detail...
Vegetarians carbon footprint are about half of that of meat-eaters.
Vegans far less again.
There is a halfway or 5/7 strategy which might suit you, you can call yourself a 'Flexitarian'.
What is a Flexitarian?
A person who has a primarily vegetarian diet or is a causal vegetarian that occasionally eats meat or fish, also known as a casual meat eater. Flexitarians typically limit dairy and/or meat to small potions and only eat meat 5/7 days maximum a week eating mostly a plant-based diet.
Flexitarian and the planet
A flexitarian diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 52% (based on 2 days or small portion meat and minimal dairy.)
Vegans and the planet
Vegan diets could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 73%.
Vegetarians and the planet
Generally half the emissions of meat-eaters
Meat-Eaters and the planet
“A typical summer barbecue for four people releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than an 80-mile car journey." (130km journey)
Further reading: Foods Carbon Footprint
Food for thought: How does going vegan help save the planet? Here are the facts
Image: The vegan nutritionist
How a plant-based diet can work for you long term
The sustainable food system and how plant-based foods free from processed foods not only create environmental sustainability they fuel you with energy, health and vitality.
How to eat more iron, high iron foods:
Lentils and Beans
Pumpkin seeds and Hemp seeds
Cashews and Almonds
Information sourced from 21 Vegetarian Foods That Are Loaded With Iron
Bonus: How to increase iron absorption, some tricks to get more iron from the same foods
Use a cast-iron pan
Foods prepared in a cast iron pan tend to provide two to three times more iron as those prepared in non-iron cookware
Consume lysine-rich foods
Consuming plant foods like legumes and quinoa that are rich in the amino acid lysine together with your iron-rich meals may increase iron absorption.
Eat vitamin C-rich foods
Consuming vitamin C-rich foods together with foods rich in non-heme iron may increase the absorption of iron by up 300%
Avoid coffee and tea with meals:
Drinking coffee and tea with meals can reduce iron absorption by 50-90%
Source: 77Trusted Source
What is protein and why do we need to eat it?
The human body can not survive without protein, as it repairs cells and makes new ones. Important for grown and development.
How to eat more protein, high protein foods:
What is calcium and why do we need to eat it?
Calcium is required to keep our bones strong, carry messages through our nervous system and activate muscles. Calcium is used to keep blood vessels healthy, move blood through our bodies and releases hormones and enzymes.
How to eat more calcium, high calcium foods:
Beans and Lentils
Milk (Cow or Goat)
What are carbohydrates and why do we need to eat it?
Energy food, this food group works better for active bodies. If you aren't active then What are carbohydrates are stored and if still not used turn to fat.
How to eat more carbohydrates, high carbohydrates foods:
Fibre is food for your digestive tract and plays a more important role in your overall health. Often thought of as 'keeping you regular', fibre plays a larger role than maybe you think.
Fibre helps boost your entire immune system by keeping your digestive system healthy.
Further reading about fibre: Dietary fibre: key for a happy, healthy gut
How to eat more fibre, high fibre foods:
Wholegrain cereals and pasta
Wholegrain bread and oats, barley and rye
Berries, Pears, Apples and Oranges
Broccoli, Carrots and Sweetcorn
Peas and Beans
Potatoes with skin
Source: Dietary fibre
A balanced sustainable diet is required to contain healthy fats, average 15g per day for women and 30g for men.
What are the healthy fats?
Salmon, Trout, Mackerel, Sardines and Herring Fish
Almonds, Walnuts and Macadamia Nuts
Source: High-Fat Foods That Are Actually Super Healthy
Maintaining a Sustainable Food Way of Living
Home Grown Produce
Try a herb pot. I did get carried away with this concept so go slow. I bought tomato plants in nearly Autumn. Not the ideal season to start growing sunshine intensive plants. A herb pot can be grown on a window sill in just about any season so the ideal starter plant.
The idea behind growing your own produce is not necessary being self-sufficient (though plant the seed who knows what will grow). Homegrown produce is an acknowledgement and mindfulness of what is required to produce what we eat. This mindset will carry through into the preparation of food, and embody the way you eat. The aim for growing your own produce is to see the life cycle from seed, growth, plate to wast. This plant to the plate visualisation will create a motion of respect for what you consciously buy, prepare and consume.
Grown Locally - Shop Locally
Support your local produce markets, eco-stores and nearby produce producers. The less distance your food travels to get to you the fewer fossil fuels are involved. Sourcing global food, ie berries or exotic fruits in Winter whilst can be delicious come at a huge fossil fuel cost. There is always a local option that is just as delicious and will is a healthy sustainable diet grown locally.
Less Meat and Dairy
Animal welfare, contributing to climate change and ill-health as some of the stand out reasons why becoming vegetarian or vegan is a sustainable choice. Even choosing 5 out of 7 days a week will make a significant difference.
Study: Going vegetarian can cut your food carbon footprint in half
Source: Eat better, and less meat and dairy
A sustainable diet is a diet which works for you creating a harmonious balance array of food groups that are sourced nearby means. Consider your food carbon-footprint, think logically when it comes to packaging, avoid plastic where ever possible. Those paper mushroom bags at the grocery store can be used for non-mushroom produce, bring your re0sueable bags and politely encourage your favourite sore to improve their ways whenever possible.
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Post written by Harper Sinclair. Content creator for ownmuse.com