Easy ways to eat more sustainably.
Here are eight simple tips to green up your grocery shopping
Many of us are open to buying food from companies and countries that are committed to protecting the environment. But even though we want to be more socially responsible, life happens. We’re rushed by the time we arrive at the supermarket. We’re hungry. We just don’t have the time to read every ingredient on the nutrition label. Here’s the good news: There are simple shortcuts you can take that will green up your grocery cart.
What’s “sustainable”, anyway?
Sustainable foods are healthy for the environment, wildlife and our bodies. Sustainable food producers care about their workers’ standard of living. Sustainable is about minimizing the carbon footprint, and maximizing food security.
How are eight ways to eat more sustainably
- Eat less meat and more beans. Peas, lentils and other legumes are called nitrogen “fixers”. They convert inert gas from the atmosphere into the type of ammonia needed for plant food, reducing the need to use as much synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Livestock is a major driver of deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Livestock requires about 3.9 billion hectares of land for grazing and to produce animal feed. That’s an area that’s five times larger than Australia.
- Buy eggs, meat and dairy products from sustainable farms. Many supermarkets now carry a selection of local, sustainably produced animal products. You may also be able to find many of these ingredients at local co-ops.Buy wild-caught U.S. seafood. American fisheries have some of the most stringent ecological rules in the world. Be open to sampling different fish species. If we ate what the oceans were sustainably supplying instead of insisting on only a few preferred fish species, we would further cut down on over-fishing our waters.
- Look for palm oil on the label. Eighty percent of our palm oil comes from Malaysia, where it is sustainably grown and harvested. Palm oil has enabled Malaysia’s smallholders to earn more money and improve their standard of living. Plus palm oil production requires 7 to 10 times less land area than vegetable crops (such as soy and canola) to produce the same amount of oil. The Malaysian palm oil industry is also heavily involved with wildlife conservation.
- Sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA). We all know the advantages to buying local produce, but not everyone has time to visit a farmer’s market consistently. CSA members purchase a share of local farmers’ crops in return for part of their harvest. In many cases, the farmer will deliver your healthful food to a convenient predetermined location, often with cooking suggestions.
- Grow your own garden. From a tiny window planter with your favorite herb to a sprawling community garden, there’s an option for everyone to experience the satisfaction of cultivating their own food. And nothing says “local” more than food grown in your own yard or neighborhood.
- Buy dry goods in bulk. This cuts down on packaging for such things as flour, sugar and cereal grains. This also enables you to buy just want your family will consume. Most supermarkets now have dry good bins.
- Buy in-season produce. In most cases, you’ll get better tasting and fresher produce. And buying seasonally reduces the need for food to be trucked in from across the country. Right now, winter squashes and crisp apples are at their peak.
- Shop online. There are several online grocery etailers now that deliver local, organic and natural products directly to your front porch. This makes it super easy to find and purchase sustainable foods. With this technology, it’s like being able to shop at your nearest farmer’s market from the convenience of your desk or phone.
Now what to do with all that good food? Check out the easy fusion recipes in the Back to Basics cookbook, available on Amazon. All proceeds go to the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund, which supports biodiversity and wildlife conservation efforts.
[Grilled] Swordfish with Chorizo and Root Vegetable Hash [serves 4]
1/2 cup Small Diced Spanish dry chorizo
1/2 Cup Small Diced Sweet potato
1/2 Cup Small Diced Russet potato
1/2 Cup Small Diced Purple potato
1/2 Cup Small Diced Butternut Squash
2 shallot, Small diced
1 carrot, Small Diced
1 parsnip, Small Diced
2 beets, [1 red, 1 golden, Boiled, peeled, cooled, and Small Diced]
1-2 cloves roasted garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Malaysian Sustainable Red Palm Oil
- Heat a heavy sauté pan over medium high heat.
- Add the chopped chorizo to the skillet and cook about 1-2 minutes, until the oil renders out. When it starts to brown remove the dice and set aside.
- Add some Malaysian Palm Oil to the skillet if necessary and add the diced potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and let cook about 4 minutes before stirring, allowing to brown on one side. Stir and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove.
- Add the squash, shallots, diced carrot, parsnip, beets and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook 3-4 minutes, until starting to soften.
- Combine all the ingredients and heat through. Place in a mound in the center of a warm plate and top with the cooked swordfish.
1/4 cup Malaysian Sustainable Red Palm Oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (5 to 6-ounces each) swordfish steaks
Preheat a grill, grill pan, or a sauté pan (medium-high heat). Whisk the oil, mint, lime juice, and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Season the lemon and olive oil mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.
Brush the swordfish steaks with 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture. Cook the steaks until just cooked through, about3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of steaks).
Winter Green Fortified Salad
Here is a great alternative to the Caesar salad that uses a combination of winter greens. The anchovies, which are sustainable and nutritious and lemon juice temper their bitterness. Vary their amounts according to your tastes.
Makes 10 servings.
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Grey sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground or to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Spirulina Powder
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3-4 fillets white anchovy, minced and chopped
- 10 cups mixed bitter salad greens, such as chicory, radicchio and escarole; chopped.
- Place garlic to taste in a large salad bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and vinegar, and spirulina; let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in oil in a slow steady stream until well combined. Stir in anchovies to taste.
- Add salad greens and toss.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the dressing (Step 1), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.