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The 5 Best Ways to Buy Food Responsibly
By Laci Chiodo June 05, 2012
Food! It fuels our bodies and is necessary for our survival. Most likely you question its nutritional value before putting it in your body, but do you question where it comes from? How was it grown? What effect will it have on the environment? Is the packaging recyclable? These are all factors that should be taken into consideration before making a purchase, so follow these guidelines and learn how to shop responsibly.
1. Go Organic. Organic foods are good for your body and good for the planet. Depending on the producer, “organic” can mean many different things. The “organic” label doesn’t promise a product that is 100% organic, so check carefully beyond the label to see what you’re buying. Organic fruits and vegetables refer to foods that are not treated with herbicides, synthetic pesticides, or irradiation. Organic meat and dairy come from animals raised on organic feed, and/or allowed access to pasture, outdoor air, shade, sunlight, shelter, and can never be given hormones. And the results? By eating organic foods you’ll be supporting an environmental practice and treating your body well.
2. Buy Locally. Support your local farmers by shopping at farmers markets, buying from family farms, or purchasing from other sustainable grown food sources. Click here to find sources in your area. Buying locally allows you to talk face-to-face with the farmer and ask questions about how the product was grown and processed, while supporting the local economy. Fruits and vegetables are fresher when purchased straight from the source, as they are recently harvested and contain none of the preservatives added for shipping and shelf life. Plus, shopping local minimizes the resources spent on shipping.
3. Pay Attention to Packaging. Buy products stored in minimal, recyclable packaging. Avoid buying packaged products that don’t require packaging. For example, fruits and vegetables don’t require Styrofoam trays and plastic wrap; they are perfectly fine when sold loose. Processed foods are often a culprit since companies use packaging as a way to advertise. Food comes bundled in layers of brightly colored wrapping that is thrown away upon opening and then transferred to the overflowing landfills. Recycle and reuse as much as possible. A great idea is to shop from bulk bins and to use reusable glass jars to store items around the house and in the kitchen. Also, when shopping for produce, ditch those plastic bags and take your groceries home in an eco-friendly reusable tote.
4. Vegetarian or Vegan. The two “v’s” are good for animals, the environment, and your body. What’s the difference between them? Vegetarians don’t consume meat and vegans don’t consume meat, dairy, or any animal bi-products. Animals living on conventional farms live in cruel and crowded conditions, and collectively, they produce massive amounts of waste, which pollutes the soil and the water. Did you know animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation vehicles combined? Omitting or cutting back on your meat intake can make a huge difference. Over-fishing is another factor to be considered – many fishing methods such as discards, bycatch, and bottom trawling are unsustainable and are destroying entire ecosystems. Go veg – the animals and the planet will thank you.
5. Alternative Natural Food Stores. These stores continue to appear as more people become aware of the problems facing the planet. They carry a variety of foods and products that are good for you and the environment. Search the aisles for unique, healthy, organic, and sustainable treats you won’t find in a supermarket.
~ Laci Chiodo
Photo Credits: iStockphoto
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