If you think eating healthy means only what you eat, then it may be time to reconsider your definition of “healthy living.” Healthy for yourself also means healthy for your planet, which means finding more sustainable ways to nourish yourself and your family.
From shopping at farmers’ markets to carefully selecting the bags you carry your food home in, there are ways to take healthy eating to the next level and help be more eco-friendly while you take care of yourself.
Time Healthlandrecently shared 33 tips to help transition your eating style into a sustainable one; even seemingly small changes can make a big difference.
At The Store
1. Use Reusable Bags
Each year about 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. At over 1 million bags per minute, that’s a lot of plastic bags, of which billions end up as litter each year, contaminating oceans and other waterways.
Paper bags are not an environmentally friendly alternative, as millions of trees must be cut down to make them each year… and the process is very energy intensive.
18. Check For This On Your Seafood Label
I don’t normally advise eating seafood, unless you know for certain that it comes from unpolluted waters and is free from contaminants. However, if you choose to, look for The Marine Stewardship Council certification on the label. The MSC focuses on the health of ocean stocks and how they are managed, in addition to assessing the effect of the fishery on the wider ecosystem. This includes a range of marine mammals, birds, and fish.
Companies who have completed the certification can offer yet another layer of assurance to their customers. The MSC eco-label provides a guarantee of sustainable fishing practices, as well as full traceability through the chain of custody, from beginning to end.
19. Know Your Fish
Certain fish should not be consumed because they are endangered or pose too high of contamination risks. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Seafood Watch guide to help you determine which seafood choices are better off avoided. For instance, the following seafood options should be avoided because they are overfished or caught/farmed in ways that harm marine life or the environment:
King crab (imported)
Tuna (canned and bluefin)
It is also reasonable to assume that radioisotopes from the Fukushima disaster have now accumulated in some fish that are harvested from the Pacific, as was recently confirmed in California bluefin tuna that had migrated from the ocean off Japan. So please exercise caution when choosing your fish.
20. Avoid Imported Fish
As with all food, the farther the fish has to travel to get to you, the worse it is for the environment. More than 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and over 40 percent of all seafood is produced in aqua-farms in China and other Asian countries.
21. Avoid Farmed Fish
It’s estimated that about half of the world’s seafood comes from aquaculture, which is the term used to describe industrial fish farming. Like the land-based CAFOs, industrial fish farming has had problems from the start, including overcrowded conditions, pollution, and unnatural diets.
Feed has been an area of controversy, as sometimes wild fish are used to prepare the fishmeal fed to farmed fish, depleting the natural fish supply in some areas. Further, the soy industry, Monsanto, Cargill and other agribusiness giants are trying to position genetically modified soy as a “sustainable” choice for aquaculture feed. But since soy is not a natural food found in the oceans, it poses serious risks of pollution, lack of nutrient content in seafood, and contamination of the oceans with herbicide-saturated GM soy.
22. Choose Hormone-Free Dairy
Recombinant (genetically engineered) bovine growth hormone is used to significantly increase milk production in cows to highly unnatural levels. Treated cows can produce as much as 15 to 25 percent more milk. But this increase in milk production, and hence profit, has hidden costs, namely the cows’ and your health (including links to cancer). In addition, this hormone is primarily used by dairy cows raised on CAFOs, which pose all of the same environmental, health and ethical concerns as CAFOs for other types of animals.
23. Choose Local Dairy Products
Notice a theme yet? The more of your food you can buy locally, the better for you, your family, and the environment.
24. Choose Organic Dairy Products
Organic dairy products are important because they’ll be free from pesticides and Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone rBGH creation. However, the real issue is not organic vs. non-organic milk, but pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized, or raw, milk (the latter is the superior choice).
25. Raw Dairy Products Reign Supreme
If you want to continue consuming milk and milk products, I suggest you get them in the raw from organic dairy farmers who are set up specifically to produce high-quality, clean, nutritious raw dairy products. This is the best option for consuming dairy sustainably.
You can find milk, cheese, and other dairy products in raw form, although it may take a little searching. High-quality raw milk has an abundance of nutritional elements, including enzymes, conjugated linoleic acid and natural butterfat that are destroyed or lacking in pasteurized dairy, and will not subject the environment or the cows to the horrors of CAFOs.
Conventional dairy farms are not typically set up to produce milk that is safe and pure enough to be consumed raw, whereas milk that’s been produced with the intention of being consumed raw should come from a small dairy farm that raises grass-fed cows in natural, healthy conditions.
At A Restaurant
26. Skip The Bottles
Just as you avoid bottled water at home, skip it in restaurants too (if you’re worried about quality, bring your own from home). You can also save waste by ordering beer on tap instead of in a bottle.
27. Eat At Restaurants That Purchase Local Food
Increasing numbers of restaurants are supporting local farmers to find the freshest, most sustainable sources of produce and other food. Support these restaurants and their efforts to make the world a better place.
28. Ask About The Food When You’re Eating Out
It’s OK, and encouraged, to ask your server or restaurant manager about where they get their food or how it’s processed, and state your preferences for more eco-friendly options as well. While they may be surprised by your interest, if enough people begin to inquire it could prompt them to start sourcing their foods from more natural, sustainable sources.
Eating At Home
29. Reduce Waste
If you use plastic utensils or paper plates, swap them for real dishes and use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. It’s also important to cut down on food waste, which another unnecessary drain on an environmental and financial resources.
I’ve long stated that planning your meals is important for a number of reasons, one of which is reducing the amount of food that will go to waste, since you’ll only buy what you need each time you visit the store.
30. Try Composting
Leftover fruit and veggies scraps, leaves and grass clippings (only if not chemically treated) can turn into a valuable natural fertilizer if you compost them instead of throwing them in the trash.
31. Eat Your Leftovers
Rather than simply throwing leftover food in the trash, reduce the waste and save the energy of cooking another meal by revamping them into a new dish. You can, for instance, use the bones from a roast chicken to make stock for a pot of soup, extending a Sunday roast to use for weekday dinners, or throw some extra veggies in the fridge into your juicer to make a fresh green drink. You’ll not only be saving money and time; you’re helping to save the environment, too!
32. Double Your Recipes
This is a great way to save some cooking energy (yours and the oven’s), as you can use one batch to eat right away and put the other in the freezer for another day.
33. Cook One Or More “Local” Meals Per Week
If you’re new to buying locally grown foods, challenge yourself to create one meal a week solely from these foods. You can even invite some friends or neighbors in on the challenge, and have a locally grown potluck dinner for sustainable, tasty eating and a night of socializing!
Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician, board-certified in family medicine. He has written two New York Times bestsellers and shared his expertise on ABC News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN, CBS, Fox News, and in TIME and Forbes magazines.
HoneyColony and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on HoneyColony is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.