Healthy Habits

Being a Sustainably Minded Food Shopper

Content Provided by the GBS Health & Wellness Team

From the Dietitian’s Desk
With Becca Rick, MS, RD

For many of us, grocery shopping is an “in and out” experience. Little thought is generally given to the journey that a product takes to make it to a store’s shelf.

Did you know that produce often travels thousands of miles from the farm where it was grown to a consumer’s table? This long-distance contributes to pollution and environmental harm by adding carbon dioxide emissions to the air. Much of the produce we purchase is also picked prematurely in order to make it these distances, then gassed to ripen after transport or processed in various ways to keep it shelf-stable. With this process, fresh foods lose nutritional value and flavor as they travel.

What can we do about this? Check out these five tips on reducing air pollution and learn how to be a sustainably minded food shopper.

  1. Explore the Local Fare. Grocery stores often stock the produce section with locally grown options. Watch for these items and purchase when available. This also supports local agriculture and encourages stores to continue filling shelves with more homegrown produce.
  2. Shop Seasonally. Learn what is in season locally, and incorporate these foods into your weekly meals. This is an effective way to bring more nutritious, fresh, and flavorful produce into the kitchen. In the chilly winter months, swap out the summertime basil in a pesto sauce for greens like kale or swiss chard. Transition a warm weather pasta dish from zucchini noodles to heartier vegetables like butternut squash or beet noodles.
  3. Browse Farmers Markets. These markets generally pop up from June to October. More cities are starting to offer a winter market as well. Make it a fun weekend outing with friends or family, support local farmers, and add more variety and flavor to meals in the process!
  4. Plant a Garden. Take local to a whole new level by cultivating a backyard garden. Start small with potted plants and herbs, then progress to a garden plot with a variety of fruits and vegetables. This can become a new hobby, provide a learning opportunity for the family to connect more closely with food and each other, and supply quality produce that travels only from the backyard to the kitchen.
  5. Preserve. Living in a region that is cold for much of the year can limit local produce options. Preserving foods can be a helpful option to support shopping in season and allow for greater variety in your diet throughout the year. Try pickling, canning, drying, freezing, and fermenting fruits and vegetables while they are in season.


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