It is up to each individual to help preserve our natural environment. One of the ways we can do so is by choosing to eat eco-friendly meals.
Here’s how to make conscious food choices to ensure you consume eco-friendly meals.
Organic farmers don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, keeping the soil, water and air clean. Organic meat is produced without the use of hormones and antibiotics, again keeping the natural environment free of chemicals.
Local is lekker
Buying local produce cuts down on food miles: the distance food travels to get to your table by plane, truck or train. Food that has to be refrigerated while transported also uses valuable energy.
Buying out-of-season foods costs more, plus the food miles are likely to be quite high. They will also have lost a lot of flavour and nutrition, so wait until foods come back into season and buy local. Alternatively freeze produce, so that you can have summer berries in winter.
Grow it yourself
Start a veggie or herb garden and get your children involved in producing healthy, seasonal food that is better for the environment. Have a competition to see who can grow the biggest cabbage. If you live in a flat, see if your local nursery or farmer’s market has veggie or herb boxes that you could use.
Eat it raw
Eating raw food is better for you – it’s still full of nutrients, fibre and other goodness – plus it cuts down on energy that you would use to cook it.
While fish is good for you, eating fish is not always good for the environment. So the World Wildlife Fund has a SASSI seafood list, which scores fish according to their stock status, the ecological impacts of catching the fish and the way in which the fishery manages the supply. The score is then used to place the fish into three categories:
- Green: the fish is sustainable and well managed
- Orange: there are associated ecological reasons for concern
- Red: the fish is unsustainable or illegal to buy.
Use the SASSI FishMS service: text the name of the fish you want to buy to 079 499 8795 and you will get an immediate response telling you to tuck in, think twice or avoid.
Meat is an energy intensive product that uses up food resources, energy in transportation and additional packaging. Cutting down on meat, or following an initiative like Meat Free Monday, can help the environment. Look out for organic or grass-fed meat and poultry, which has less of an impact on the environment.
When buying food, especially fish and meat products, it is important to ask questions: What is it? Where is it from? How was it caught or farmed? This lets you know what you’re eating and it encourages restaurants and retailers to adhere to eco-friendly practices.
Buy what you need and cook what you can eat. If you do have leftovers, or food nearing its use-by date, use it in dishes (like smoothies for fruit) or add to the compost. Buy products that have minimal packaging and that aren’t packaged individually, and recycle whenever possible. Take your own shopping bags when buying groceries. For more information about a worm farm, visit fullcycle.co.za
Vote with your wallet
Organic food, hormone-free meat and sustainable fish may all come at a higher price, but by buying this produce you are supporting people who practice sustainable and eco-friendly farming. This encourages others to follow and work towards making a greener planet.