As we become more health conscious, it’s equally imperative to question where our food comes from and how it’s been sourced. The trick is to look beyond supermarket shelves and online carts and identify products which have a smaller carbon footprint and use fewer resources like fuel and water in their production.
Exploring farmers markets can help in finding fresher, nutritious and locally grown produce. If you go local, you are also supporting local farmers and putting money into the locally-owned businesses. Shopping local means there’s a smaller carbon footprint from produce to plate. The international agricultural process is responsible for up to 44 per cent to 57 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and transportation of the produce contributes to part of that. The best part about farmers markets is that you can meet the people who actually farm your fruits and vegetables and know exactly what field your food comes from!
Eat Less Meat
A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) says that livestock production (which include meat, milk and eggs) contribute to 40 per cent of the global gross domestic product which helps provide income to over 1.3 billion people and uses up to one-third of the world’s fresh water. In fact, livestock and poultry production are a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Another study in Procedia Food Science, meat generally has a considerably higher carbon footprint than plant-based food. There’s also a huge difference in how livestock is raised around the world—in fact, according to the PNAS study the highest total of livestock-related greenhouse-gas emissions comes from the developing world, which accounts for 75 per cent of the global emissions from cattle and other ruminants. In addition, poultry and pork production account for 56 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
As the global food crisis intensifies—everyone from chefs to home cooks is doing their part in stopping food waste by using every part of the vegetables to cook. Not just a ‘trending’ practice, the root-to-stem method isn’t new. With ever rising food prices it’s a good sustainable practice as well as get the most out of the food you buy. Leaves, stems, stalks and skins of vegetables all have different textures and unique tastes. For example, broccoli stalks can also be cooked other than the florets chopped up in salads and in stir-fried dishes. Carrot greens can be used to make pesto, salads, vegetable stocks, stir-fries, sautés and can even be substituted for coriander and be used as garnishing. Just make sure to blanch first to get rid of the bitterness. The next time you make a dish with cauliflower, don’t ignore the stem. Chop it up and cook with the florets. Another variation is to leave the stem attached to the floret in sautés and baked vegetable dishes. Eat up and be part of the movement to stop food waste.
Quick to make using fewer dishes and water resources, one-pot dishes are an intelligent option to minimise waste. Have it as a breakfast in the form of banana French toast sprinkled with flax seeds and walnuts or with spinach, potatoes along your with your favourite lentil as lunch or dinner. You can be as creative and healthy with the ingredients as you want. Every region has its own name for the dish—in Hawaii poke bowls, a raw fish salad amped up with veggies became popular as a staple for fishermen. Today, it has been modernised into contemporary recipes and adapted regionally.
Practice Mindful Eating
When you are eating, be mindful and think about where your food comes from. In addition, have a screen-free lunch—away from mobile phones, television and computers to just focus on the meal that you are having. Think about portion control as well—you may not need as much as you think. According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, there are three ways to prevent overeating:
- Enjoying and paying attention to your food.
- Being aware of sugar and salt. If you are craving something sweet, take a small piece of your favourite dish and savour every tiny bite. Look for savoury snacks that are low in sodium and opt for snacks that are roasted
- Changing your response to comfort craving and only eating when you are hungry. Research shows that exposure to stress can result in poor eating habits.
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