How Sustainable Nutrition Impacts our Carbon “Foodprint”
Sustainable nutrition has become an increasingly important part of the conversation when it comes to consumerism. Today, consumers are demanding more from the brands that they love and are purchasing food and other products based on both values and nutritional value. Our food system has continued to gain a lot of attention, and scrutiny, which has sparked incredible innovation in the ways we grow, produce, package and distribute the many different goods we use in our daily lives. However, sustainability has also become a buzzword, marketing ploy, and overall ambiguous term used by food companies to virtue-signal to consumers. So what defines sustainable nutrition anyways? And how do the principles of sustainability intersect with the things that you buy and that you eat?
Our goal is to help our fellow compassionate consumers make informed choices so that we can all play a role in creating a kinder, more sustainable future. We believe that each and every person has a
responsibility to protect our planet and so we want to empower consumers to always act with integrity. We believe that nutrition, when approached mindfully, can be a source of regeneration for ourselves and for the planet. The current
food system that sustains us is both a source of vitality and also environmental degradation. That’s why we must approach nutrition in informed and intentional ways by voting with our dollars and choosing compassion over
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are on the same page and want to continue to find ways to nourish yourself all the while protecting the health of the planet. Well, you’ve come to the right place!
The Impact of Our Food System
While many consumers are beginning to understand the connection between the things that they buy and consume with the state of our planet, the process of making positive behavioral and lifestyle changes is not always a clear, or easy, one. Take for example that many people go vegan/plant based for the environment but don't fully understand the ways that their nutrition choices can still have an impact on the environment, even as a vegan! Stepping into a lifestyle completely free of waste and cruelty is complex and challenging and requires lifelong commitment, ongoing education, and an open mind.
Understanding the complexities of our food system is an important step in being able to make conscious choices as a consumer. It’s important to explore how the foods you buy have been sourced, grown, or created from
a sustainability point of view. For example, consider that non-organic foods are grown using pesticides and other toxic and damaging chemicals. Or that the pervasive ingredient palm oil, when cultivated, damages jungles in South America and
Indonesia - driving precious flora and fauna to near extinction. Eating off season foods also has a massive environmental impact - consider that eating tropical fruits in very dry locations means these fruits were transported from far away.
Because of this, it's likely that the nutritional properties of these foods are not optimal as they were probably collected when they were still green or unripe. Not to mention, many of the foods we are accustomed to buying and eating are
wrapped and transported in plastic, leaching harmful toxins into your food and creating persistent waste upon disposal. The FAO found that in 2019 alone, 12.5 million
tons of plastic products were used in plant and animal production, and another 37.3 million tons were used in food packaging. In a recent study that we conducted in partnership with industry experts, animal rights groups, and the NIH
Office of Dietary Supplements, we found that 1.8 billion plastic supplement bottles are sold each year in the US alone and 76% of supplement packaging is made of plastic.
Sustainable Nutrition Solutions
After exploring the nuances of our food system, we must learn to navigate the complexities of the choices we are faced with making. Here are some tangible action items you can take to minimize your own footprint at the store and at the shelf:
Buy food in bulk so you avoid plastic packaging and use reusable containers and bags when you can.
- Utilize resources like Litterless to find bulk, zero-waste stores near you!
- Buy organic and non-GMO where possible.
- Look for sustainably-sourced supplements.
Buy seasonal foods.
- Use the Seasonal Food Guide to figure out what foods are seasonally appropriate in your area!
- Farmer’s markets are a great place to shop locally sourced foods such as produce, dairy, and eggs. Use USDA’s Local Food Portal to search for local food and farmers markets near you!
Learn more about how vegetables and fruits are grown to make the most informed and sustainable decisions.
- Check out this free Sustainable Food Systems: Concept & Framework course offered by FAO elearning Academy.
Avoid plastic packaging as much as possible.
- Check out these zero waste tips & tricks and begin to incorporate more mindful practices within your home.