Living off-campus gives you the opportunity to take ownership of your diet and make choices that are healthy for you and the planet! In the US, food production accounts for 50% of land use, 80% of fresh water use, and 9% of carbon emissions.1 The way you shop and eat can have a big impact!
Get curious! Do you really know what’s in that snack bar? Ever wondered where your lettuce comes from? Intrigued by slow, local, organic, cruelty-free, or fair-trade food? There are dozens of books, blogs, and documentaries where you can become a more informed consumer.
Focus on Plants. 1/7th of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions comes from raising livestock for meat and dairy. Eating a plant-based diet is one of the most effective ways to cut carbon emissions and conserve land, energy, and water. However, you don’t need to go vegetarian to reduce your footprint--try smaller portions of meat, incorporating vegetarian and vegan dishes into your meal plan, and relying mainly on legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds for your protein.
Eat Local and Seasonal. Food typically travels 15,000 miles before it is consumed, requiring energy and resources for transportation, preservation, and packaging.2 By shopping the farmers market and picking produce in season, you’ll cut your footprint, support local businesses, and eat food that is tastier and higher in nutrients!
Minimize Highly Processed Foods. These foods not only create packaging waste, they are more likely to be shipped from far away, use unsustainable practices, and contain pesticides or chemical ingredients. Instead, focus on whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Reduce Waste: Almost 40% of food in the U.S. is discarded before it is consumed, which is 20 pounds per person wasted every month. Not only does this take an environmental toll, it can add up to a big chunk of your grocery bill! Plan ahead to purchase only what you will be able to eat. Make eating leftovers a habit, or freeze them for a quick meal later on. It’s also helpful to understand expiration dates. It turns out, they are not for food safety, but are to help stores regulate inventory for peak quality. Many foods, especially canned or dried items, are safe even after the expiration dates. You can learn more here, but always use your judgment and err on the side of caution.
Contributed by Planet Blue