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How to Shop, Cook, and Eat More Sustainably

Easy ways to make your kitchen (and garden) more sustainable.

Senior Digital Food Editor
Photography by: Krause, Johansen

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:

  1. 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."
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  1. Cook -- make more of your meals. We have lots of recipes and ideas: grow some of your own food too.


Read Anna Lappe's book Diet for a Hot Planet


Find out more about sustainable food.


Watch how to make this delicious Broccoli Stalk Salad -- yes, using those stalks you usually throw away: