Though we usually select foods based on their taste and nutritional benefits, science suggests we should be considering the carbon footprint as well. With new environmental concerns popping up every day, it is important to examine the carbon footprint of the food we eat. In an effort to promote a more sustainable world, we have compiled this list of eco-friendly suggestions for your next grocery trip.
Eating Seasonally & Locally
Eating locally has been the Ward’s motto for over 65 years. Not only are local farmers more likely to practice sustainable farming methods, shipping food from across the world drastically increases carbon emissions. Opting for seasonal food that is grown within your state or region requires the least carbon for transport and is often easier to find. Additionally, the ecological costs of building roads that are able to access isolated fields can damage intact ecosystems.
Learning to love locally sourced, in-season food can help reduce your carbon footprint immensely and doesn’t have to be complicated. Check out this sustainable food guide that provides information on what veggies are seasonal at every time of year with recipes to go along with the seasonal diet.
Organic farming practices such as mulch tilling, seasonal crop rotations, and omitting synthetic fertilizers compounded with nitrogen (that often are made of fossil fuels to produce) can decrease your carbon footprint. Organic farmers also absorb more carbon by taking measures to build rich soil and use energy and often times, use resources more wisely than conventional farmers.
Organic groceries are labeled with a sticker or marked on a package. Keep in mind that organic produce is almost always the more sustainable option since eating food in it’s rawest, most natural form without processing uses less carbon.
An often overlooked yet key carbon reducing practice is reducing amount of waste that ends up being thrown away or recycled. Opt for bulk items that decrease the amount of grocery packaging used and if you can, bring your own jars and containers for bulk goods to avoid using new plastic bags each time.
Ward’s makes it easy to shop with your own jars. Just pick out your bulk items and bring your empty containers to the counter weighing before you fill up
Learning how to store your food is also essential to cutting out waste. Storing your food for optimal freshness and being realistic about your grocery shopping can also decrease your food waste. Have you thrown out a half-bunch of kale for the third week in a row? Maybe it’s time to revise your grocery list to make it work for you, your wallet and the planet. If you still have excess food after adjusting and modifying your grocery list, consider composting in place of traditional garbage.
Another low hanging fruit for decreasing your carbon footprint is to use your own grocery bags. Plastic bags require fossil fuels for production and are not biodegradable. Keeping reusable shopping bags in your vehicle at all times is an easy fix to cut down on the plastic in your shopping.
Learn to Love Veggies
If you’re not already a produce fan, it’s time to jump on the veggie train. Produce, in it’s rawest form, is one of the healthiest, least carbon-intensive food groups. Research shows that meat and cheese are the main culprits of a high carbon footprint. If you’re not ready to cut these foods out of your diet, look for grass-fed, pasture raised and hormone free labels that all boast a lower carbon footprint. Choosing poultry and fish options instead of red meat is also the more sustainable option.
Planning your meal around veggies also reduces freshwater withdrawals, decreases forestation and is the most nutritious for your personal health.
There is extensive research around that continuous to develop on carbon intensive food groups. Check out this list of foods and their carbon footprints ranked.
Start Shopping Strategically
If you’re interested in decreasing your carbon footprint, Ward’s is here to help. By offering locally-sourced, organic and bulk goods that cater to a variety of dietary restrictions and lifestyles, we are proud to join you in your efforts towards creating a more sustainable community. Stop by today to learn more about our products!