The way that I think about food is one of things that has changed the most along my sustainability journey. I have transitioned from a fully-fledged meat eater who would trawl the supermarket without a care in the world to a vegan who avoids supermarkets whenever possible! I think there are a few key elements to consider when thinking about when purchasing food that is friendly to the planet and for your health.
What do you like to eat?
Only buy things that you like the taste of, unless you enjoy trying new flavours and ingredients. In the age of food bloggers, it is easy to get swept along by food trends and recipes with fancy ingredients, but I think that taking this route can often lead to generating food waste. Either because you didn’t like the food, or the ingredient was so obscure that you only used it once or twice. So, when you go out food shopping just buy the things that you like to eat!
What is your food made from?
I try, where possible, to avoid overly processed food and instead opt for food that is in its most natural state. As I follow a vegan diet, I pretty much always have to check the ingredients lists on food products to check for animal products. This in turn has given me a much greater awareness of what goes into the foods we eat. So, next time you go shopping try looking at the ingredients lists of your favourite products. You might find some surprising ingredients!!
Where has your food come from?
The distance that food travels before it reaches our plates has a huge environmental impact, this is often referred to under the term ‘food miles’. Where possible I try to buy food, products made or grown in Britain or Europe. Often the best place to find local produce is at farm shops, markets, independent greengrocers or through a veg box scheme.
What is your food packaged in?
This is the consideration that is high on the agenda currently, thanks to awareness raising television programmes such as Blue Planet and War on Plastics with Hugh and Anita. Although lots of food packaging is designed to be recyclable, only a small percentage of packaging actually gets recycled. With this in mind I try to buy loose produce as much as possible, and always take cotton bags with me to put loose items into. I also bulk buy all my dry goods such as pasta, rice and pulses from a zero waste/package free store. I realise that these options are not available to everybody and therefor suggest that you simply look for food packaged in paper, cardboard or tin over plastic.