Eating for the Earth: How to Eat More Sustainably All Year Long
With Earth Day upon us in April, we’re reminded to be more mindful of the way we consume resources — which includes our food, its production, and its “end of life.” Eating is a human right, but the planet shouldn’t have to pay for it! Thankfully, there are ways to eat deliciously (and nutritiously) while also nourishing our planetary health.
As we lead up to Earth Day, let’s see how we can make sustainable adjustments to our eating habits now so that we can continue caring for the Earth for years to come.
Buy produce from local, regenerative, and organic farmers
Small-scale growers are known for adopting sustainable practices like no-till, cover cropping, maintaining organic matter, and not using pesticides. Pesticides, GMO crops, monocrops (large fields of a single crop), and other “conventional farming” practices are responsible for damaging our soil life and overall soil structure. By supporting small farms who are working with our land rather than against it, you’re supporting the restoration and regeneration of our soils and ensuring that we can keep feeding our growing population.
Support grass-fed and pasture-raised meat farms
Factory-farmed beef feedlots contribute to soil erosion, water pollution, fossil fuel consumption, poor air quality, and overall health issues. When sourcing your meat, try to buy from grass-fed farm operations like Teton Water Ranch. Eating grass-fed meat not only ensures that our beef is higher in vitamins and healthy fatty acids, but their practices are also more ethical and sustainable. Grass-fed beef practices are known to restore grasslands through rotational grazing, which helps combat soil degradation and to revive our biodiversity, while also sequestering carbon which helps in the fight against climate change.
Start a kitchen garden
Starting a kitchen garden is an easy and impactful way to help the planet. It limits your reliance on conventionally-farmed foods, allows you control over what you eat, and encourages you to diversify your diet. Gardening a variety of vegetables helps feed your garden soil the range of nutrients that it needs, which strengthens the soil structure and makes it more resilient to adverse weather events.
Incorporate more wild foods
Did you know that dandelions, nettle, garlic mustards, and all of those pesky “weeds” in our yard can also nourish us with essential vitamins? While incorporating them into your diet can bring you a boost of nutrients throughout the year, wild foods can also have an incredible impact on our environment. Rewilding our yards and fields and eliminating lawn sprays can help feed and house pollinators and other beneficial insects and animals that are essential to our planet’s health and biodiversity. The next time you’re thinking of spraying those weeds, see if they’re edible and add them to your plate instead!
*When foraging or eating wild foods, always make sure to do so safely, ethically, and sustainably.
Compost your scraps
When we think about changing our eating habits, we don’t often think about the afterlife of our food scraps. Food doesn’t have to wind up wasted in a landfill, it can have another life when turned into compost. Composting at home or finding a local farm to take your food scraps helps to keep our food system as sustainable as possible, and rewards us with nutrient-dense black gold (compost)! This finished organic matter can be added to your pasture or your garden to give it a boost of nutrients, help it retain moisture and prevent erosion, and to maintain the soil structure to keep it resilient through our changing climate.
This is a great time to start taking a look at areas in your life where you could make one (or many) of these changes to the way you eat. Start small and sustainably so that you’ll be able to maintain any “resolutions” for years to come. Once you start tasting the difference in your food (and seeing the benefits in your health and the planet’s), it won’t be hard for these switches to stick.