I’ve been working on updating my dietary habits. I’ve never paid close attention to what I eat or where I get it from. But now that I’m trying to live a green and healthy lifestyle, what I eat and where I buy it has become very important to me. In a previous blog I looked into the healthiest diets. I believe the best diet is one that consists of primarily vegetables and fruits and a very small amount of animal products. There’s a lot of disagreement in the Green Movement, however, in regards to the meat and dairy industry, particularly about the ethical dilemma of factory farming and the impact on climate change. If I’m going to commit to an eco-friendly lifestyle, I want to have as little impact on the planet as possible, and it’s not just animal products that have an impact. It’s how and where we shop, too. So what is the best way to grocery shop? Here are some guidelines to green up your grocery trip:
What groceries should I buy? Which ones should I avoid?
After doing a lot of reading about food and nutrition, I’ve developed my own dietary guidelines, but I’m no dietician. It’s important that each individual make their own decisions based on their own health needs. For me, I believe the healthiest diet is about 3/4 vegetables and fruits and 1/4 healthy meat and dairy options. I’ve swapped out dairy milk for oat milk because I love the taste and it has more calcium. I still enjoy yogurt and real butter though. As far as meat goes, I try to eat as little as possible, but do enjoy chicken and very small amounts of beef on occasion (preferably less than once a week). Incidentally, foods that are not good for health are often not good for the environment either. For instance, processed foods and junk food come in more packaging than fresh produce or canned goods. I also avoid the frozen food section unless it’s for frozen vegetables and fish. By opting for a diet that’s primarily (or entirely) plant-based, you can avoid a lot of excess packaging.
What about meat and dairy?
The meat and dairy industry gets a lot of heat because of biodiversity loss, methane gas released from livestock, the unethical treatment of animals, and a number of health problems associated with the consumption of animal products. I’m a huge advocate for eating less meat and cutting out dairy when possible, but I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian. I believe humans are omnivores and should consume very small (much smaller than the average diet) of healthy meat, fish, eggs, and some dairy products. However, I don’t want to support factory farms that treat animals poorly and contribute to climate change. I believe the best solution to this problem is to buy from local farmers who are committed to raising livestock ethically that are free-range and healthy. I’m going to try to reduce my consumption of meat and dairy and what little I do buy, I’d like to get from local farmers.
Where should I buy my groceries?
Where you buy your groceries is just as important as what you buy. Since I’m trying to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, I’d like to get most of my produce at the local farmer’s market. There are a few in my hometown. The great thing about buying local is that you support the community and give your money to people instead of major corporations. It also cuts down on burning fossil fuels since the produce doesn’t have far to travel. There are a small number of items that I buy from the regular grocery store, but I can find most of what I need at the farmer’s market. I also enjoy going to Mama Jean’s because they sell a lot of local items and support eco-friendly businesses. You can also buy items in bulk such as rice, pasta, spices, nuts, etc. By doing this, you can avoid unnecessary packaging. Another option is growing your own produce and eliminating the need for shopping for those items altogether. I’d love to start gardening again soon.
How can I limit my plastic waste while grocery shopping?
Speaking of unnecessary packaging, what are some other ways to green up the way we grocery shop? A part of the problem is all the plastic waste; plastic produce bags, plastic shopping bags, plastic containers. It seems like everything comes in plastic. This is a major issue because less than 10% of the plastic produced is recycled. It takes a very long time to break down and oftentimes leaches microplastics into lakes and rivers. Plastic has caused major environmental disruptions. So how can we end our dependency on it? Here are a few things we can do:
- Bring your own bag to the grocery store
- Bring your own produce bag when buying fruits and vegetables
- Buy what you can in bulk from Whole Foods or similar stores
- Avoid single-use, disposable items (bottled water, plastic cups, straws, etc.)
Now that I know a little more about grocery shopping, I’d like to commit to a plan:
- Buy what I can from local farmer’s markets in order to avoid factory farming, importing goods, and excess packaging.
- Buy other items from eco-friendly businesses like Trader Joe’s and Mama Jeans.
- Bring my own bags and make small, weekly trips instead of big ones that run the risk of food waste.
With spring just around the corner, those farmer’s markets will be open for business soon! I can’t wait to make my first trip there!