Sustainable Eating

Sustainable Eating

The busy lives of most Americans leave us with little time to actually think about the food we consume. On a daily basis, we do not realize what most of theĀ ingredients going into our body actually are. While a packaged, pre-processed, and convenient snack may label itself as healthy, the truth is that most of what you are eating contains mostly corn and even things like tree bark and wood pulp. According to the USDA, Americans are eating too much corn in products ranging from snack bars to soft drinks.

While most Americans say they would like to eat a healthier, more sustainable diet, they are turned off by stores like Whole Foods that cater to the wealthiest members of the population. Fortunately, there are sustainable options that are available to Americans that won’t makeĀ savings account rates skyrocket.

The most important thing you can do to keep a sustainable and healthy environment is to load up on fruits and vegetables when they are in season. Not only will you get the best prices on an abundant stock, you will get the best tasting vegetation available. By purchasing locally instead of through major grocery chains and Wal-Mart, you can help the local economy, avoid pesticides, and make sure your food hasn’t been affected with dangerous bacteria like e-coli and salmonella.

If you are concerned about the sustainability of your meat products, you should do a little research. The largest meat producing companies like Tyson and Perdue perform some devastating acts of environmental negligence. Not only do the companies keep their livestock housed in filthy and deplorable conditions, they are fed harmful antibiotics and hormones that affect the well-being of humans.

A growing movement called environmental vegetarianism is sweeping the nation and making the practice more about health and well being than a fashion trend. Eating a purely vegetarian diet is not only healthier, but cheaper as well. Instead of purchasing expensive meat for protein, you can get it from cheaper beans, nuts, and lentils.

If you consider yourself a true, red-blooded North American and can not stand the thought of giving up meat, there are some reasonable and affordable sustainable options. Local food cooperatives and specialty butcher shops know the importance of raising happy and healthy animals. Instead of going through processing plants, the animals live on natural farms, are slaughtered humanely, and butchered by skilled artisans. The best way to save money when going this route is to buy a whole or half animal to store in your freezer.

Eating sustainably doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your money at Whole Foods or other overpriced retail grocery outlet. Just learn to avoid the processed foods featuring corn and other fillers as well as learning about alternative diets.

36 thoughts on “Sustainable Eating

  1. Great thought provoking article. I get disgusted when I learn what is actually in the food we eat. I like the idea of the “100 mile challenge” where you strive to eat only foods that originated from within 100 miles from where you are. This is a lot easier in the summer when fruits and veggies can be easily found at farmers markets. There are a lot of food cooperatives where you can pay a set amount and get a weekly stock of fruits/veggies. It supports the local community, is healthier, and is often cheaper too!

    1. We strive to eat as locally as we can. We’re in Canada so the winter months make getting proper fruit/veg nutrition truly a challenge.
      We have both read the 100 Mile Diet, and, had planned to try it this past summer. Alas, Mr. SPF was pregnant and we just did not have the energy required to visit local farms and really dig our teeth into the challenge. One of these years we will!

      Another eye opener for us was watching the documentary Food Inc. Once you realize we eat a TON of corn (it is in processed foods and even trickles down to meat and dairy as livestock eats it too), you may never eat corn on the cob again!

    1. Miss T, our pal @ Prairie Eco Thrifter brings this up a lot: Health benefits. Give me a “Hungry Man” 1 pound microwave dinner, I am full, and feel awful. Give me 1/3rd each of veg, starch and properly prepared meat – i’m in heaven.

      And the microwave dinner will result in a trip to the can.

  2. Maybe I’m being a bit picky on the wording here, but (unless there are facts to prove otherwise) I’m confident that avoiding meat is much better and more sustainable environmentally than eating food in season. The livestock industry produces TONS of greenhouse gases, and it rivals the amount of greenhouse gases emitted for transportation (in the US at least). Overall lots of great points for eating sustainably!

    1. Food in season is open to interpretation.

      I wonder at times that perhaps I should hunt. I have never shot a gun or any living thing.

      I am reading a book, Primal Cuts – remarkable really. Learning how to get good meat, fresh, local, and properly butchered.

  3. We also try to eat as sustainable as we can. We grow a pretty big garden in the summer and we also participate in a local CSA. We also buy local at the grocery store as much as we can. Eating seasonal is hard in the winter here though. The pickings are pretty slim since we get such cold weather.

  4. The hormones present in meat is disgusting. But unfortunately, I am one of those red-blooded Americans who couldn’t give it up if I tried. Too bad hormone free meat is ridiculously high priced. Can’t wait till I’m married — my future wife is great about buying organic. I buy fruits/veggies/meat, but often they are at the cheapest price.

  5. We are trying to buy local produce and local meats. And more chicken then beef (weight control thing.) You can easily determine if meat is full of antibiotics or hormones just by how long is stays fresh. And how it smells.I’d rather spend more, buy less but at least I know that what I am eating is more or less healthy.

  6. We have meat from local farms although in the UK the vegetables are a bit more of a problem. If I decide to buy only from local farms I will have to eat only root vegetables (and being originally Bulgarian it is difficult to consider that these are for human consumption). Two things are starting to really get to me: 1) the incredible amount of rubbish that goes in all purchased, prepared food including bread; and 2) battery hens farming – I avoid both.

      1. Well, this is a bit of an exaggeration but a very slight one. It is rather cold and wet here for most veg (although tomotoes are good but very short season). Srawberries are great though, particularly the ones from Scotland.

  7. Learning to combine incomplete protein categories to make complete high-quality proteins is easy, but so important. For those who don’t want to give up meat totally, they can back off on portions, making meat more of a condiment than the main event. And remember meat eaters gain more weight on average than vegetarians.

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  10. I’d like to plug a CSA – community supported agriculture. You can buy in for a lump fee, usually around February, and get months worth of fresh and local produce each week. It give you the chance to try produce you may not have otherwise (I became a kale junkie), you support local agriculture, and it’s pound for pound, a LOT cheaper than your local grocery store.
    (for me personally, I’m a vegan and have found CSA’s help reduce my grocery bill a LOT).

  11. We live in Phoenix Arizona where temperatures can reach 110 degrees in the Summer months. Needless to say buying local is just not possible for many fruits and vegetables and like any major cities across the globe, depend on transportation to provide food. Because of the lack of land available for agriculture, metropolitan areas will always be dependent on shipped in food, goods and services.

  12. We’re getting half a beef in early January from a local rancher. $3/lb for hanging weight, works out to about $4/lb net (I think). A good average, considering ribeye and other premium cuts go for about $9/lb at the market. No hormones or antibiotics.
    To Jeffrey’s point above, gassy emissions come from modern livestock practices, so-called CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations).

      1. I was talking just today to a colleague who is active with the local 4H club. Come March, they’ll be ready to butcher a few head. Since I’ve started buying in bulk, a few friends and colleagues have become interested in doing the same thing. Maybe I have a new side gig ahead of me as a natural beef broker!

  13. Great article, I do try to eat sustainably but am one of those who never sets foot in Whole Foods, it’s just too overpriced and full of the stereotypical lululemon-clad yogis here in LA. But we are lucky to have a farmer’s market one street up from us every Sunday and Sprouts, which is a “farmer’s market” grocery store. They have more local fruits, vegetables and meats. Their prices are usually cheaper than regular grocery stores, and they have a lot of bulk foods where you can buy things like nuts, beans, whey protein by the pound. OK, this was totally an ad for Sprouts but it’s helped me to eat healthier and more locally!

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