So you know what sustainable food is and you're aware of the issues around creating a sustainable food system in the U.S., but do you know what you can do on a daily basis to promote a more sustainable food system? Author and sustainable-food advocate Anna Lappe, explained that sustainability is an issue we all touch every day "by what we choose to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and on a personal level there is a lot we can do." Anna talked about 'Seven Principles for a Climate-Friendly Diet,' from her book Diet for a Hot Planet. They are all things that we at Martha Stewart Living believe in:
- Buy real, whole foods. That means foods as close to their natural state as possible. Foods that haven't undergone energy-intensive processing and that do not contain chemically laden ingredients. As Anna says, "Think fresh strawberries, not strawberry-flavored breakfast bars."
- Move plant foods to the center of your plate. Consider animal products as flavorings or additions, not the main event. Watch our Eat Clean series for ideas.
- Think organic: Anna recommends shopping for foods that have been produced without industrial chemicals and other high-energy inputs. Look for the organic seal when shopping.
- Shop local -- support your local food economy. Shop at supermarkets that carry local foods, at farmers' markets or join a CSA -- get our tips for making the most of your CSA share.
- Don't be wasteful. One of the biggest problems with moving to a more sustainable food system is something we can all understand: food waste. Anna quotes the amazing statistic that between 30 and 50 percent of all food that could be eaten is wasted. And “if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, after the United States and China! What can you do? Don't buy more than you need; use what you have, cook the vegetables in your refrigerator drawer rather than letting them wilt and die, make lunch to take to work; make use of your leftovers; and compost food scraps.
- Use less packaging. Choose foods with minimal packaging when you shop; bring your own bags to the grocery store or farmers' market; use reusable containers for your leftovers.