The Garden specialises in ‘Earth friendly food’, but what does that mean? why should we eat more earth-friendly? And how do we simultaneously take care of ourselves and our planet?
If, like me, you’re on quest to become more environmentally friendly, food consumption can be a key way. Food is something we all spend a lot of our money on, and since growing, processing, transporting, selling, storing, chucking, and just about everything else we do with food effects the environment, the age-old saying ‘money makes the world go round’ stands true. Our ‘more is more’ culture – where burgers have to be doubled, chips loaded, and everything excessively packaged– is having a huge environmental impact. By talking to my more earth-savvy friends, I’ve come up with 10 tips for eating like an environmentalist.
Yes I’m going all ‘preachy vegan’ again here, but the stats back me up: research shows that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on earth’ (see this guardian article).Without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced to more than 75%, an area equivalent to the US , china, European Union and Australia combined, and still feed the world! Even the most environmentally-friendly animal products do more harm than the least environmentally friendly vegetable and cereal production. I know not everyone wants to go the full way, but just reducing meat and dairy consumption can make a difference.
Coffee shops have jumped on the sustainability trend, making this tip particularly easy. In fact, it’s hard to think of a reason not to bring your own coffee cup: you can buy them at most supermarkets and coffee shops, they look much nicer than the boring paper ones, you can buy collapsible ones for convenience, and most chain coffee shops now offer a discount to those who bring their own cups! The same goes for water bottles, you can buy reusable bottles pretty much everywhere and (as well as saving plastic pollution from plastic bottles) refilling with tap water will save you money too.
Here’s another one for us coffee addicts: try using plant milk instead of dairy milk in your coffee. According to Alpro, half of all coffee drinkers in the UK now go for a diary free option, which just goes to show how simple this switch is. Different ‘milks’ have different environmental impacts, which the chart below shows (dairy quite clearly loosing to its earthy competitors).
If your house is anything like mine, you’ll have a plastic bag-of-bags that’s always growing – so remember to take some next time you go food shopping! Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, and usually end up in the ocean. We’ve all seen those heartbreaking videos of animals starving because of plastic pollution, so instead of just sharing the video, reusing bags, or using tote bags instead, is a simple way you can do your part to prevent this.
Food waste is something that really bothers me. I love food and I do not love seeing it go in the bin. I find the best way to avoid food waste (and to avoid over-spending!) is to plan what you are going to eat in the week, and buy just that, then you’re less likely to chuck out food that didn’t get eaten in time. However, sometimes plans change, and you end up with food left - this is when it’s time to get creative! Some of my best meals have been the ‘whatever needs eating’ dishes. Veg on its final legs and parts of last night’s dinner are always perfect ingredients for new culinary creations.
Work with the planet, not against it. Eating fruit and veg that’s in season allows you to eat locally, which reduces the impact of transportation, and lowers your carbon footprint. And, as a bonus, the food will be fresher and taste better!
Buy your food naked. Try and buy food that’s loose, in minimal plastic packaging, or in recyclable packaging. The less-dressed the better. Supermarkets make this especially hard by charging more for loose vegetables and layering on the plastic with food that really doesn’t need to be so wrapped, but I’ve found shopping at markets, and checking the packaging, can help (and yes, I purposely made it sound as though you should go shopping with no clothes on, but just to clarify, you shouldn’t)
So there you go, simple ways to have a better dinner date with the planet.
Heather is a final year English student at Leeds university who loves to write just as much as she loves coffee – as well as her studies, she is a faculty wellbeing representative, a member of the uni yoga committee, and a lover of cooking colourful vegan food and keeping fit 😊