Everyone is talking about how to create a more sustainable world. Food industry leaders such as producers of coffee and baking chocolate are leading the way to more sustainable business practices. Read on to find out how to contribute to the solution. You’ll discover what’s behind sustainable food and how you can do your part to buy eco-conscious products.
What Is Sustainability?
Sustainability is the delicate balance between the planet’s health and business profit. A sustainability plan considers the needs of the environment and communities. It also considers the health and safety of employees and the consumers who buy the products. Why are today’s most beloved companies developing more sustainable business practices? Common reasons include climate change and the Earth’s limited natural resources. Sustainability is also a part of consumer demand. People are more aware of the problems that corporate greed causes for the planet. Instead of buying products from irresponsible companies, people are choosing environmentally friendly food items and materials.
What Is Sustainable Food?
Sustainable food is free of chemicals that can impact the environment and the people who eat it. Sustainable farms use environmentally friendly practices and avoid non-essential supplements or antibiotics. Sustainable food companies avoid contributing to climate change and care about the welfare of the plants and animals used to make their products. When you buy from a sustainable food company, you should enjoy quality food grown safely and with health in mind. You can feel good about your purchase because the company supports local economies and fair wages for its workers. Sustainable food should never waste resources or impact the land where it grows.
Examples of Sustainable Food
If you want more sustainable food, buy local and organically grown products. You can also engage in more eco-conscious eating practices. Try more sustainably grown or harvested foods. You can also select products developed by responsible companies. Some of the best choices are:
Beans and Lentils
These crops have a low carbon footprint and require less water than many other plants. Even better, they help support healthy soil. Beans and lentils are a vitamin-rich choice and offer more humane and eco-conscious protein than meat products.
Some common grains require a lot of water and fertilizer, but not ancient grains like barley or quinoa. Farmers can grow these crops using fewer resources than wheat or corn. There are many more delicious ancient grains to try, including millet and farro. Amaranth and buckwheat make excellent ingredients for baked goods. Dress your breakfast with spelt topping or have wild rice for dinner. These grains are packed with vitamins for a meal to make you feel good inside and out.
To make sustainable chocolate, you need sustainably grown cocoa. Solutions include shade trees that help increase the cacao trees’ soil moisture and reduce the soil temperature. More tree cover attracts wildlife, which helps to support cacao growth. Native insects and animals also support the ecosystem.
Sustainable cocoa includes cooperation from chocolate companies and national governments. Organizations like Fairtrade International help support local cooperatives that can negotiate for more sustainable supply chains and fair business practices. Diverse farming systems can help benefit cocoa plants and their soil health.
Improved agroforestry techniques enhance the quality of the crop as well as the business of smallholder farms. Plant-based and vegan chocolate companies are taking sustainability into their own hands, forming relationships with cacao farms and their local governments to develop more sustainable farming and production practices.
Quality plant-based ingredients impart less waste and put less strain on the environment. Best of all, sustainably grown cocoa translates to better-tasting chocolate. Vegan chocolate bars made with organic ingredients and the best cacao offer a rich flavor you can’t find in highly processed chocolates.
Greens like kale and spinach are weather tolerant and grow well in various climates. They require few natural resources but still grow in large amounts. Bok choy or mustard greens don’t take long, and some will grow at cooler times of year to give farmers a longer season.
Many root vegetables can grow during the year’s cooler months, offering farmers longer growing periods. Farms can grow more sustainably and make for less waste of natural resources. Try some of the most sustainable and nutrient-dense root vegetables, including cassava or jicama. Parsley root and sunchokes can really dress up a recipe. Don’t forget to sample heirloom radishes or beets!
Next time you need a hearty protein, consider mushrooms. They require less water and land to grow than meat and most vegetables. Mushrooms don’t need much electricity to produce crops; growers can easily recycle byproducts. If you’re searching for some of the tastiest and most sustainable mushrooms at the market, look for eco-friendly shiitake or portobello. Oyster and maitake mushrooms are sustainable and offer a unique flavor. Other smart choices include enoki or saffron milk caps.
How to Find Sustainable Food
Ready to find delicious, sustainable food for your meals and recipes? Put some of the foods above on your grocery list. Shop seasonal fruits and vegetables and check out your local farmers’ markets. Your grocery store’s organic section will have many sustainable foods, or you can look for USDA Certified Organic food labels on your products. Some other foods to check out include Fairtrade Certified items. Non-GMO Project Verified items help to lower carbon footprint. You’ll also see some produce labeled as Certified Naturally Grown.
Sustainable Food Protects Your Health and the Environment
From healthy foods to delicious treats, there are ways to eat sustainably and protect the environment. Choose these sustainable foods and buy more products with sustainable food labels. Buy local produce and consider growing some herbs or vegetables of your own! Each of these choices contributes to the health of your body and the planet.