Talks of climate change and burning fossil fuels are all around us, trickling down from international boardrooms all the way to the office water cooler. It can be overwhelming to hear about the potential effects humans have on their environment. Regardless of political leanings, many people agree that changes should be implemented in our agricultural organizations, to make food distribution more efficient and less taxing on the environment. So what can you do to help in the meantime? Many people are now aspiring towards a low carbon diet, which is simply a lifestyle choice that strives to reduce your carbon footprint through a handful of food decisions. Here are a few ways in which you can find foods brought to you using fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Become a Locavore
Food transport costs can add up to eleven percent of the carbon emissions surrounding food. While this may not seem like a large number right off the bat, it is the percent that you have the most control over. Big box stores can save you some money, but their bulk vegetables probably eat up a lot of fossil fuels on their way to your table. Not only does transporting vegetables across the continent use a lot of energy, but the taste is usually compromised and far less desirable than the veggies picked recently from a farm near you. Heading to your local farmers market will not only help you reduce your carbon footprint, but will also allow you to support your local farmers and economy and serve your family fresh, nutritious food. Plus, farmers markets are usually fun places to visit, many of them with live music and delicious coffee available to shoppers.
Cut Down on Meat Consumption
You don’t have to go vegan or even vegetarian to make an impact on your carbon footprint. By cutting back your meat consumption to one meal a day or even less, you can contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gases. Large livestock farms produce large amounts of methane gas, which factors highly into the carbon footprint. Other components of farming, such as deforestation and animal waste, also contribute to the production of methane. You and your family can still ingest the recommended daily amount of protein if you reduce your meat consumption. Many grains and beans can make up for the protein lost in a low-meat diet. Experiment with new recipes and venture into ethnic meals based around quinoa, lentils and buckwheat for a meatless protein boost.
Purchase Fewer Processed Foods
Processed foods, such as microwave dinners, packaged cookies and instant soups and noodles, frequently use unnecessarily large amounts of plastic packaging. In addition to packaging waste, these foods also contain ingredients that come from all corners of the globe, which creates several times the amount of transportation waste than other foods. Multiple-ingredient, pre-packaged food contributes to emissions threefold, by requiring separate ingredients to be shipped, using energy during processing, then being shipped out again to the retail market. Bottled water is perhaps the biggest offender, as the majority of Americans have access to potable water but continue to dispose of approximately forty million plastic water bottles daily. Consider cutting back on as many pre-packaged foods as you can by preparing your own meals and snacks, or seeking out products that employ minimal packaging. Cooking meals with your family and baking cookies with the kids are great ways to work towards eating more healthily, cutting down on your carbon footprint, and also spending quality time with your family.
Read Labels Carefully
There are certainly many types of condiments and foods that you will not want to make yourself. While steps can be taken to work towards a low carbon diet, it’s simply not reasonable to expect anyone to make all their food from scratch. There is an increasing number of companies that make alternative products to old standbys, with low greenhouse gas emissions in mind. You can now find egg free mayonnaise and even vegan cookie dough that tastes just like the comfort foods you are used to. One of these companies offers recipes, tips and discounts online, and you can find these Hampton Creek coupons on their Facebook page.
Striving for a low carbon diet may sound daunting at first, but with some pre-planning and a little extra effort, you may find that it is not actually an intimidating task. The processes that enable you to lower your carbon footprint also help you become more active in your local economy and supportive of small business owners and nearby farmers. The locavore lifestyle fosters a sense of community and teaches children to respect the time and effort that goes into creating the food that goes on their table. Make it a family effort, and have fun trying new recipes, planning meals for the week and enlisting help in the kitchen to prepare foods from scratch rather than relying on pre-packaged goods. Before you know it, you’ll have significantly cut down on your carbon footprint while enjoying the common side effect of healthy living.
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