My 2021 Theme (Part 3) - Sustainable Eating for a Happy Earth


Alright, Part 3 of my intro to my 2021 theme, coming up--”guts" for a Happy Earth! The guts component miiiiight be a bit of a stretch, but I don’t want to focus all my 2021 time and attention on just physical and mental health, because the health of our planet is important too. And with the effects of climate change becoming more evident every day, the Earth’s health is something we should ALL care about, and help with!


What’s cool is that there are a multitude of ways we can be more environmentally-conscious, and many are pretty simple and easy to build into our daily lives--like simply swapping your throw-away tinfoil or parchment paper with a reusable silicone baking mat!


But there’s a lot of eco-friendly considerations to try. Where does a relatively unaware person like me start? That’s where my theme comes in--how can my guts focus make me a more environmentally-friendly person this year? By focusing first on sustainable eating (and cooking)!


I love how broadly, yet simply, this To Taste article defines a sustainable diet-- “For a diet to be considered sustainable, food should be produced in a way that protects the environment and has a low impact on biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural resources.”


The article explains that, in order to determine the sustainability of a food--like a potato or a box of cereal--or a food system--like a dairy farm or a food packaging chain--it’s important to look at the use of natural resources (land, water, fossil fuels, etc.) and the creation of greenhouse gas emissions in the production of that food item. There’s a lot of separate components in the process to consider--everything from how the food is grown and processed to how it’s packaged and distributed to the grocery store where you buy it!


Below are a few of the tips for eco-friendly and sustainable eating that I’ve come across in initial research. As I brainstorm my 2021 To Do List (since again, I don’t love the negative, burdensome connotation of “New Year’s Resolutions"!) and compile all my gut goals for my key categories, I’ll keep researching and determine which Happy Earth ideas to start with!



PSSST! Want to hear something extra cool? A lot of the same tips for eco-friendly eating result in a diet that’s better for your health and easier on your wallet, too!


Guts for a Happy Earth - Eco-Friendly Eating Tips


Thanks to To Taste, EatRight.org, and The Environmental Magazine for sharing the ideas below!


1. Eat less meat and more plants

You don’t need to completely eliminate meat from your diet. It’s all about moderation. Swap a few of your weekly meat meals with plant-based alternatives, and when you do eat meat, go with meats that result in less carbon emissions, like fish and chicken. Beef and lamb produce the greatest amounts of environment-harming emissions.


2. Grocery shop locally

This takes a bit of research, but pay extra attention at the grocery stores - they’ll often label the produce that’s local. This can extend beyond produce, too--I live in Wisconsin, I LOVE my local cheeses! Better yet, check out your local farmers markets for produce, breads, and other products that are as local as it gets. Buying local not only supports your neighboring food producers and economy, but prevents your food from having to be transported great distances to get to your table.

3. Eat in-season

Similar to #2, this will take some research for me. Especially because I’ve always lived near nationwide grocery chains that have most fruits and veggies available all year round. But if raspberries aren’t grown in your area or state in the fall, for example, then buying them in October means they had to be transported from very far away.


4. Reduce highly processed foods

The additional processes needed to produce, package, and transport highly processed foods (think deli meats, ready-made microwave meals, breakfast cereals, etc.) require resource utilization and create more of those harmful emissions.


5. Grow your own food

Where my green thumb folks at?! This one’s tough for me living in an apartment with limited space for a garden, but my lease is up this year, so who knows what gardening opportunities I’ll have in my next home!


6. Be conscious with your kitchen items

Try to swap single-use items for reusable ones whenever you can. Examples = washable cloths instead of napkins, dishware instead of paper plates and plastic cutlery, tupperware containers rather than plastic bags, and reusable water containers instead of plastic bottled water.


7. Limit food waste

I know it’s tough to meal-plan in a way that makes sure you use every berry, veggie, and piece of bread you buy, but try to be as mindful as you can with your grocery list. For food with long shelf lives, buy in bulk to reduce excess packaging. For food with a short shelf life, have a plan for how you’ll use it that day or week so you don’t have to throw it out.


8. Show support with your money and your vote

Again with the research here, but get to know your local grocery stores and favorite nationwide food brands. Do they use relatively sustainable food production and distribution practices? Consumer demand dictates supply, so support food companies going the extra mile to protect our planet by buying their products! And while it’s usually not a headlining part of a candidate's platform, take a look at the agriculture policies of the candidates when you consider who to vote for in local, statewide, and federal elections.


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Did any of these surprise you? I’ll admit, I never thought about the seasonality of my produce, and how that adds to the transportation and carbon emissions of my food. Are you doing any of these currently, or any ideas that really resonated with you? I particularly like the idea of going through my kitchen drawers and identifying reusable alternatives for single-use items, and more intentionally checking out local farmers’ markets too!


Are you looking to add some eco-friendly habits to your 2021 to do list? Have any other ideas or recommendations for sustainable eating, or eco-friendly living in general? I’m new to a lot of these environmental concepts, so I’d love any and all tips, resources, or input you have! Or, if you’re just looking for a Happy Earth accountability buddy this year, I’m your girl! <3

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