Sustainable Nutrition

Not being a huge trend follower I’m a bit late cottoning on to a nutrition trend for 2021 – Sustainable Nutrition!

Apparently, according to Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute, ‘sustainable nutrition is key to the future of the planet and part of the strategies for many companies in the food and beverage industry. It refers to our ability to provide positive and balanced nutrition solutions that help maintain good health, but are also created in a way that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their nutritional needs. This means an increased focus on sustainable farming and sourcing practices, closed-loop supply chains, finding health and nutrition value in waste streams, as well as development of solutions to feed populations in need.’

Now, I might be a little bit backward but how has it taken so long for this to become a priority? Surely, this was how things were done a few decades ago, but for some reason new trends took over that focused on immediate demands without keeping the bigger picture in mind.  We became short sighted, impatient and selfish.

Although this trend is back in fashion and generally focuses on big agriculture practices, companies, etc, it is something that we can scale down to the individual level too.  Food, aka nourishment, is essential on a daily basis.  As a consumer we send a message every time we buy something, even doing our weekly food shop.  That message is received by the producers, supermarkets, farmers markets, etc and also by our bodies. The food we buy can be more sustainable even if you are on a tight budget.  Here are some ideas to make positive changes to your weekly shop:

  • Buy seasonally.  This decreases the demand for products that are shipped large distances across the planet.  Seasonal foods often contain a vitamin/mineral balance that supports your system during that specific time of the year.  Nature is amazing like that.
  • Buy local. This reduces not only the carbon footprint of the food but also increases freshness. This might be common sense but if you think if something like Chia seeds, they do not originate from the UK but Central America.  Flax or Linseeds would be a better option if you live in this latitude. They contain the right type and balance of oils to support our bodies when we live in our location. They also flourish in our soils.
  • Eat just enough. This is another way to not over use Earth’s resources. If we all reduced our portion sizes slightly then the demand for food would be enough to meet our nourishment needs.  Food waste is a huge issue in the many countries. We often throw away food which is edible but the supermarkets have put a use by date on it, which is just a guide. Make sure that you plan meals, use leftovers for the lunch, stock up the freezer. Don’t throw away edible food that has taken a farmer time & effort to nurture, used the earth’s resources to grow, been transported, etc.  There is a lot of effort involved putting food on the supermarket shelves. We need to respect that more.
  • Eat a greater variety of foods. Monocropping causes numerous issues for farmer’s security (extreme weather events & a single pest can wipe out whole crops), decrease wildlife diversity and put a huge strain on the soil health. By buying different kinds of foods, focusing on plant based vegetables & fruit we send a message that poly culture farming is the way forward.
  • Avoid foods that you know are intensively farmed or involve unethical farming practices. For example, battery chickens and soya are two well know foods that do not take in to account animal or Earth welfare.  With regards to meat it is better to eat high quality, less frequently than poor quality more often.  This applies to at home and in restaurants. If you ask about the animal welfare & provenance when you are eating out it is slowing sending messages to the restaurant trade that the customers do care about where their food comes from.
  • Buy plant-based milks from perennial plants. Oat & rice are annual plants that are harvested and need replanting every year. Mainstream ploughing and sowing release CO2 into the atmosphere. By choosing a nut milk (e.g. hazelnut) the nut is harvested from a tree, which continues to grow each year, capturing carbon, providing habitats for insects & birds. 
  • Think around the food too. The packaging our food comes in is often unnecessary and luckily now supermarkets are offering loose fruit & vegetables as well as those packaged in plastic. Think about the other staples you buy too. Tinned products have a plastic lining inside the can, plastic pouches are not recyclable. When you are buying food you are also, often sending messages about the packaging too. For example, tomato puree comes in glass jars, which can be reused to store left overs in your fridge or freezer.  Glass has an unlimited recycling capacity, whereas plastic only has a handful.  Tetra-paks are not recyclable. Think about the packaging as well as the contents.  Another consideration with packaging is that when it is in contact with the food it contains contamination can happen. Microplastics from tin linings, and tetra-paks contaminate contents with hormone disrupting chemicals.

So there are many ways we can make positive, sustainable changes to how we food shop. Many of which will have a positive effect on our health too. By reducing plastic packaging contaminating our food our detoxification system does not have to contend with so much of an influx of body-system disrupting chemicals. By eating seasonally and a great variety of food we are getting a wider variety of nutrients which are tailored to what our bodies need to be healthy throughout the year.

If all these tips seem overwhelming then break things down in to smaller positive changes. Next time you go shopping buy loose broccoli instead of plastic wrapped florets.  It’s also easier to tell if the broccoli is fresh when they are loose. Just wiggle a floret and see if it is floppy or not. A fresh broccoli should be rigid.  Take one small step at a time, increase your awareness and before you know it you will be along the path of making a difference.

We have a responsibility to encourage positive change for the planet, our bodies and future generations.

Published by Caroline Westoll

I'm a Nutrition & Wellbeing Practitioner. Learning Permaculture ways & generating an edible garden in Sussex, UK

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