Two of America's current obsessions are living green and eating right. Unfortunately, the food industry is responsible for generating much of our country's waste and energy use. By making a few of the following changes to your grocery shopping and outdoor cooking routines, you can help save Mother Earth while you eat.
SHOPPING EARTH FRIENDLY
- Supermarkets: Shopping at the farmer's market reduces the amount of petroleum used to transport your food by up to 95 percent.
- Coffee: Look for coffee labeled with organic, Fair Trade, Bird Friendly, or Rainforest Alliance certification seals. These seals ensure that your coffee came from a farm that practices sustainable agriculture and is, therefore, better for rain forest ecosystems.
- Fish: It may seem different, but the price of fresh fish is actually comparable to that of canned fish. In fact, a six-ounce can of fish usually only contains four ounces of meat. And again, canning requires more energy. For lower levels of heavy metals, choose sustainably harvested wild fish over farmed fish.
- Bread: Buying fresh bread at the bakery saves the energy it takes to freeze and transport bread bought from the shelf. If you do buy sliced bread, choose a brand that uses a single wrapper per loaf.
- Cheese: Buy full blocks of cheese instead of the individually wrapped single servings. The prewrapped servings require a massive amount of energy to package and only produce more waste.
- Milk: Buy bigger milk cartons; it takes less energy to make one large container than to make several smaller containers.
- Organic: It may be more expensive, but by choosing organic food, you lower your exposure to pesticides by 90 percent.
- Poultry: The average American throws away approximately twelve pounds of uneaten poultry every year. Therefore, you should only buy as much as you think you'll need.
- Produce: Canning produce takes at least ten times more energy than simply picking it fresh, so ditch the canned and buy the better tasting fresh stuff.
- Seafood: Be careful about the types of seafood you buy; many are in danger of extinction due to overfishing, but continue to be sold in stores. Blue fin tuna, swordfish, Chilean sea bass, and shark (i.e., shark's fin) are the species most at risk.
- Soy: By simply replacing a portion of your meat with soy food products, you're saving the world vast quantities of water each year.
- Vegan: It's better for animals, the environment, and you. Check out www.vegan.org for more information and tips for making the transition.
- Gas Grills: Gas grills only use six pounds of CO 2 per hour, while charcoal uses eleven pounds per hour. And after you turn off your grill, baked goods and desserts can be reheated without wasting any energy.
- Charcoal: If you must use charcoal, all-natural lump charcoal contains none of the additives that charcoal briquettes do. Even lump charcoal is likely to have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to make it to your grill, however.
- Solar Cookers: They may take longer to cook meat, but they are a more eco-friendly alternative to the traditional outdoor cookers.
- Dishes: Disposable dishes might seem the most convenient choice for outdoor cooking and eating, but they only serve to fill up landfills. Remember to also pack your leftovers in reusable containers.