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By making small changes to your diet it can have a very big impact on supporting a more environmentally and socially responsible food system. These better food systems are becoming a growing interest in the efforts to protect our environment and communities from all the damaging effects of agriculture like soil erosion, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
By adopting just one simple sustainable food habit can make this huge difference in promoting more sustainable food systems. The Environmental Nutrition lists their top 5 food habits.
Having a plant based diet, which incorporates more plant foods than animal foods can significantly impact the environment. There are billions of pounds of animal meat and dairy products produced each year that has to use many pesticides, chemical fertilizer, fuel, feed and water and accounts for up to 51% of the global greenhouse gas emissions according to a 2009 report in World Watch Institute Magazine. Maize, rice, vegetables, beans and tofu are the kinds of plant foods that have a much lower environmental impact. If a family of four could cut down on eating steak just one day a week for a year it could be the equivalent of taking a car of the road for three months. Rather supplement meat products for plant proteins like nuts, beans and soy.
Organic products use fewer chemical pesticides and fertilizers making them have less of an impact on the environment. Organically produced meat and dairy means that no antibiotics or synthetic hormones are fed to the animals. Looking for foods that have certified organic labels is a much better buy.
Close To Home:
By being able to source food locally and that are produced relatively close to home can decrease greenhouse gas emissions compared to food that has to be transported many kilometers. It also helps to promote local job security by encouraging more local farmers to sell their products. Places like supermarkets, farmers markets, and local farms are increasingly a good choice or one could even grow certain foods right in their own house. Like juicy tomatoes or herbs in a box on the window. These foods are sustainable, healthy and very delicious.
By eating with the seasons, which means to eat the produce as they grow seasonally instead of those that are grown in artificial conditions such as heated greenhouses or grown very far away, picked prematurely and then travels long distances can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Seasonal foods are better for the environment and much cheaper because they do not need too many resources and require less energy to grow. It can also add variety, flavour and freshness to your diets.
Food is the number one waste material found to be incinerated and piled in landfills according to the Environmental Protection Agency. More than 36 million tons of food waste was recorded in 2012. Rotting food is the number one source of methane, a greenhouse gas associated with global warming, another 13% of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the energy it takes to dispose of the rotting food. In order to reduce the waste materials people should have a no-waste mindset by planning weekly menus and making just enough food needed instead of over cooking. Save too much food by freezing and storing it away to eat again. Also opt for whole foods rather than processed in order to reduce the packaging materials which need more energy to produce as this contributes to packaging waste.