Eat This, Save the World: The 8 Eco-Friendliest Foods
We admit that saying that eating “fair trade” chocolate will save the world is a bit of an exaggeration, but our choices about what to eat can have a significant impact on the health of the planet and its ability to continue producing food for a growing population. Although you may not think that making one or two changes to what you eat will make a difference, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Take pollution for example: If a mere one percent of the population gave up as little as one serving of pork per day, 6 million pounds less waste would make its way into our water each year. Clearly, small changes in what we eat can add up to benefits for the environment.
Sustainability has been getting a lot of attention in the food world lately. Sustainable foods are foods that are grown or raised with a sense of ethical and ecological responsibility — foods that are good for humans and good for the environment and are produced by treating farm workers fairly and animals humanely. As we begin to fully understand the long-term consequences of a large, industrial food system, more consumers are looking for sustainable options. Organic foods, locally-produced foods, and in-season produce tend to be some of the most sustainable; choosing these types of foods is an easy way to eat more sustainably.
Plant-based foods tend to be more sustainable than their animal-based counterparts. This is due largely to the fact that animal-based foods require extra input: we must grow food to feed the animals, foods that could instead feed humans; this means extra water used, extra waste created, and more greenhouse emission produced. Reducing meat consumption, or choosing more vegan and vegetarian options, is another easy way to promote a more sustainable food system.
There are a number of factors that determine how eco-friendly a particular food is. In an effort to simplify sustainable eating, we’ve rounded up eight great eco-friendly foods.
Potatoes are a great choice if you’re looking to eat more sustainably; they don’t require as much water to grow as other foods and naturally produce compounds that fend off pests and diseases, which means they can be grown with less pesticide.
Apples also require little water to grow — but they can quickly become unsustainable when it comes to pest control, so make sure you choose organic apples. If you choose local, in-season apples, you’ll significantly boost their environment-saving potential.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.