Chances are, if you’re like most people around the country, you do your food shopping in a large grocery store that is part of a regional or national chain. While these stores are very convenient, accessible, and offer a large variety of food for all sorts of diets, a great deal of the packaged foods, produce, meat, and dairy they sell originate from unsustainable food systems. Unsustainable systems are those that produce food but at great consequence to the environment, the communities they operate in, workers, and those who purchase and consume the food. When you think “unsustainable”, think dangerous pesticides and herbicides, cruel conditions for livestock, worker exploitation, ingredients made from GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and poisoned waterways and soil.
Who would have thought so many problems could be hidden inside that box of cookies, pre-made hamburger patties, or yogurt cups! It’s tough enough trying to balance good nutrition with food your family will enjoy eating, so how can you also find sustainable food choices? Rest easy, it’s not as hard as you think, and with a little persistence and dedication, you’ll find healthy, sustainably sourced food options that you and your family will enjoy eating and that will help the planet and our communities instead of damaging them.
Sustainably Sourced Food & You
So, what does sustainable food look like? What should you be looking for the next time you go shopping? If you think about it, sustainable food is what people purchased and consumed up until just a few decades ago.
- They are “real” foods (not full of chemicals, preservatives, artificial sweeteners…) that our bodies were made to eat.
- They are nutritious and naturally taste good.
- They do not harm the environment.
- They are grown or produced in ways that are humane for both animals and humans.
- They support the local or regional economy.
Once you start to think and care about where your food is coming from, it’s easy to embrace sustainable eating. Here are five tips to make finding sustainably sourced food easier and become more mindful about your grocery purchases:
Look for sustainably sourced foods
Be on the look-out for producers that source their ingredients from farms within the United States. In recent years, these options have grown in popularity all over the country, so once you start looking, you might be surprised to find what’s available in your area!
Eat with the seasons
Apples taste their best when you eat them in the autumn months and nothing says summer like a sliced tomato fresh off the vine. When you eat with the seasons, you’re consuming what is fresh. Tommy’s takes seasonal produce and perfectly preserves it at peak freshness, locking in vital nutrients so that you can enjoy your favorite vegetables year round!
Minimize your food waste
Save money and reduce landfill waste by reducing the
amount of food that ends up in the trash. Whether it’s buying less (or buying only as you have need) or purchasing more sustainable frozen vegetables, look for ways to extend the life of the food you buy and “re-use” leftovers for new meals.
Get creative in the kitchen
So many packaged food items contain GMOs that if you’re trying to avoid them and eat food that is sustainably sourced, you’ll want to start cooking more with ingredients you trust. Thanks to the Internet, finding recipes for all your favorite packaged seasonings, sauces, cereals, snacks and beverages is a snap.
Know that “cheap food” comes with a price
“Cheap and fast” food may save you a few dollars or a few minutes of preparation time, but in the long run, regular consumption costs you a great deal in terms of your health and quality of life. Is an unsustainably sourced drive through burger or breakfast sandwich really worth that?
Sustainably Sourced: Make the Change
Contrary topopular belief, consumers hold a great deal of power, and what you choose to buy and not buy sends a powerful message to food producers throughout the world. When you choose to buy sustainably sourced food, food that is local, organic, fair-trade, or non-GMO, you are sending a message that you care deeply about food and where it comes from. Eating sustainably may take a bit more effort, but the benefits – for your family and your future – are too great to pass up.