Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Eco-Friendly Eating

If you're living a green lifestyle or are looking for ways to implement it, the food you put on your table may be something you've overlooked. Eco-friendly eating is not necessarily complicated, but it does involve some awareness and possible small changes.

"Sustainable" food choices are those foods that are grown and harvested in environmentally responsible ways. For example, crops that are heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides are not only considered less healthy for you, but such conventional farming methods also result in the eventual "death" of the soil and toxic run-off.

Here are some tips on how to apply the green lifestyle to what you eat.

Sustainable Seafood

MSC ecolabel
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The issue of sustainability as it applies to seafood has come to the fore lately. Fish, especially salmon, is considered a very healthy food and a good source of healthy fats and protein. However, some seafood is not considered sustainable.

Species such as orange roughy and Atlantic cod are not sustainable choices due to their endangered populations. Sources say that mussels, tilapia and sardines are, at this point, sustainable choices of seafood.

It's worth pointing out that farm-raised fish are not necessarily the most sustainable choice either; sometimes, wild-caught is better. When in doubt, look for wild-caught fish (it's considered healthier anyhow) that's been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Pesticide-Free Produce

It's probably a no-brainer to point out organic produce as the more sustainable choice - but sometimes it's more complicated than that. For instance, if you are choosing between an organic bell pepper imported from Holland, or a conventional bell pepper grown at a small farm and transported only a few miles, the latter would probably be the most sustainable choice. Less fuel was used to bring the local pepper to your market, and the pepper was probably not sprayed with preservatives or mold-inhibiting chemicals to prepare it for transport.

It's also worth asking if the local farmer uses pesticides or other chemicals (he/she may not, even though the "organic" label is not applied to his/her produce).

Of course, if you can do it, growing your own organic produce is an eco-friendly choice. (See our Sustainable Gardening page for more help with that.)

Eye fillet of grass-fed beef.
Filet of grass-fed beef. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Naturally Raised Meats

Large-scale agribusiness and the meat industry has become a concern for eco-conscious people the world over. The problem with some beef cattle is that they are grown (or "produced") on large feed lots that are a source of potentially toxic and unsanitary run-off, and grass-fed beef may mean large areas of forest have been cleared to make way for grazing cattle.

However, lean, grass-fed, free-range beef is usually considered a sustainable choice, as is free-range chicken. Again, local is better; and if you know a hunter, see about getting some venison (that's about as free-range and grass-fed as it gets!). You also might know a local farmer who might consider selling you some fresh chickens or turkeys.

Some experts point out that simply cutting back on meat is an eco-friendly choice, too. Health experts agree that limiting your consumption of red meat is better for you anyway. Most adults should consume no more than 4-6oz of meat per day. Try adding more varied proteins to your diet, such as beans or quinoa, and implement a "Meatless Monday" for at least one day per week that's meat-free. Your health - and your planet - will benefit.

No comments:

Post a Comment