Happy Sustainable Gastronomy Day! The UN has marked this day in our calendars to celebrate food cultures worldwide and each one's ability to make global food consumption more sustainable.
And why is action so important?
Food production contributes up to 37% of global greenhouse gasses, and climate change in itself is affecting the people and acres producing our food. With more extreme weather, such as wildfires, droughts and unpredictable seasons, the livelihood of farmers are at risk and food stock becomes scarcer. Worst-case scenario, by 2100, about 90% of the world's population are projected to be exposed to food production losses from farming and fisheries.
While these bleak predictions are a heavy serving, we can all make small daily sacrifices to contribute to change. Here are 10 super simple tips for making our food habits more sustainable.
1. Go local
The wonders of global food transportation have brought different cultures, unique spices and fun fusions into home kitchens. But, shipping foods takes its toll on the environment and the freshness of our produce. We've gone global in so many sectors of life, why not make food a little more local? Look for locally produced foods at the grocery store, explore food markets near you or find nationally-bound producers you want to support.
2. Follow the season
If you're stuck on finding new recipes, looking at what's in season might be the way to go. Along with new ideas, you'll get products at their peak, money-savings, more nutrients and fewer chemicals. And if you really want to commit, seek out food waste reduction initiatives, like GRIM and Misfits Market, which repurpose seasonal produce that's too ugly to sell in stores.
3. Dish up with durability
By no means should you discard your existing kitchenware but, when the times come to update your supplies, why not keep sustainability in mind? Looking into the materials of products, how much energy they save and their durability may force you to spend a little more but, could be a better investment in the long run. You can even explore innovative additions such as Beyond Taste tableware for more sense-activating dining or Folks kitchenware for the blind.
As many of you know, meat is one of the biggest sinners when it comes to harming our planet. If you find it difficult to stop, consider eating less and buying organic, free-range products that are worth the wait. For the more daring, grocery stores are luckily booming with great meat alternatives, like Beyond Meat, and new faux meats are constantly being developed, such as Air Protein and Prime Roots Bacon.
5. Put sustainability on the menu
Serve them food that's good for you and the environment. Oysters balance nitrogen levels through a natural filtration process, and seaweed can soak up five times more carbon dioxide than land-based plants. Beans and peas are nitrogen fixers, meaning they take inert gases from the environment and turn them into useful ammonium, which enriches soil environments.
6. Know the origins
If there are certain foods you need, try to buy products that are ethically and sustainably produced. There are several services and apps that try to make this easy for consumers. Provenance, for example, is helping people all around the world to make more informed purchasing choices. Using blockchain technology, the platform can be used to track the lifecycle of almost anything - from coffee beans to packaged fish fillets.
7. Plan for the week
When shopping for groceries, it's always better to have a game plan than buying on impulse. Why? Meal planning can save money – so we leave the unnecessary items on the shelf; time – so we don't have to shop multiple times a week; and, of course, lowers food waste. There are apps available for creating plans but, it can also be just as easy to sit down and make a list before you shop.
8. Throw-away thoughtfully
Of course, once in a while, we have leftovers that never make it back onto our plates. Educate yourself on how food waste is best recycled in your country or invest in equipment that breaks down the food for you! The Zera Food Recycler, for example, turns food waste into fertiliser in less than 24 hours. Businesses can also donate leftover food on platforms like 412 Food Rescue or similar services.
9. Do take out the right way
Take-away doesn't have to feel like a guilty pleasure or an unnecessary luxury. With services like Too Good To Go, you can get delicious, diverse and cheap meals that would otherwise have been thrown away. If you look around, there are likely multiple good food deals in your neighbourhood that give you plenty of food for much less at the end of the day.
10. Cook for friends
Fewer resources spent on cooking and more people to share it with. What's not to like?
Do you know of any sustainable food solutions? Nominate them for Index Award 2021.