Great Tips for a Sustainable Diet

by Abigail McCleery, MPH, RD

1.  Buy and prepare only the food you expect to eat.

When you waste food, you waste the energy used to grow, transport and cook it. You also waste your money. Buy and prepare only the food you expect to eat.

2.  Make seasonal your food mantra!

Foods that are in season in your region generally use less energy to get to your table. Those should be your first choice.

3.  Add “Meatless Mondays” into your schedule.

Livestock production creates greenhouse gas emissions. If you eat meat and cheese, consider reducing portion sizes or cut them out for one day.

4.  Don’t buy air-freighted seafood.

For seafood, “fresh” often means “air-flown” which is more emission-intensive than transporting products by ship. The best quality seafood is usually cleaned and frozen at sea.

5.  If it’s processed and packaged, skip it!

Snack foods, most juices, even veggie burgers (prepared, boxed, frozen and transported) consume a lot of energy. We eat this “stuff” mindlessly. When you need a treat or an “easy grab,” choose fresh fruit, small quantities of nuts, and delicious homemade alternatives such as granola.

6.  Grow your own ingredients.

One of the most environmentally conscious things you can do to make a great meal is prepare it with food that you grew yourself. Plant a small vegetable garden or herb garden in your yard or window, or join a local community supported garden – we have garden plots at the Farm!  Everyone in your household will appreciate the freshness.

7.  When dining out, inquire about where the food is from!

Ask in restaurants and stores where the food is from. Support restaurants that use local farmers’ products. Check out for a search engine to connect you with these restaurants. If the restaurants you frequent don’t use local products, encourage them to buy locally.

8.  Use reusable water bottles.

Disposable plastic water bottles are made from non-renewable resources. The making of disposable plastic bottles releases toxins into our air, soil, and water supply. Some bottles can even leach chemicals into the water inside them. So choose reusable BPA free bottles and fill with tap water!

Source:  Iowa State University- Food Science and Human Nutrition Department

Additional resources:

Find and connect with leaders, innovators and grassroots organizations working on building a more just and sustainable food system.

A free online directory for anyone in search of fresh, locally grown and sustainably produced food in the United States and Canada.

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