By Analiese Paik
If you’re like most people, you make a list – at least mentally – of the things you’ll do differently in the coming year. Perhaps you’re already eating sustainably to some degree, but are looking to increase your commitment. Here you’ll find a multitude of suggestions for doing just that – whether you’re just starting to eat greener or are a dedicated sustainable eater. Choose where you are on the continuum – from Newbie to Dedicated – to find suggestions suitable for you. Please use the hyperlinks provided to find Fairfield County resources including farm stands, farmers’ markets, CSAs, farm-to-door delivery services, restaurants, and other service providers to support your Green Food Resolutions for 2013.
You are just starting to explore ways to eat locally and sustainably while honoring the family budget and your demanding schedule. You value convenience and flexibility.
Start with this check list of sustainable food practices. When you’ve checked off all of them, move to the next level.
- Always use reusable bags when shopping. Keep them in your car trunk and a small collapsible bag in your pocketbook or brief case for smaller, spur-of-the moment purchases.
- Ditch bottled water for good. Carry a stainless steel thermos and fill it with filtered tap water. Petroleum-based plastic bottles use a finite resource that ends up polluting the environment in many ways without delivering extra value to consumers. (Emergency stores of water excepted).
- Cut down on food waste by not overbuying, practicing “use it or freeze it”, and by committing to having “Clean out the Refrigerator Night” once a week. Almost 40 percent of the food produced in the US is wasted.
- Compost your food waste -coffee grinds, tea bags, fruit and vegetable peels, wilted and spoiled fruits vegetables and herbs. Food that goes into landfills produces methane gas, a known greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change.
- Shop at a farmers’ market, farm stand or farm-to-door delivery service once a month or more to reduce your food miles and enjoy fresh, seasonal food. Start with foods you know and love, then begin experimenting with new vegetables.
You have already found ways to make greener food choices, but strive to do more in the coming year within reason. Your priorities include quality, value, and convenience. Check that you’re already practicing the suggestions above under Newbie, then choose from the list below.
- Join a CSA or purchase regularly from a farm-to-door delivery service, farm stand, or farmers’ market. Eating locally in season means trying new foods, so expect your farmer or delivery service to provide you with delicious recipes to support your commitment.
- Go Fair Trade. When it comes to chocolate, coffee and tea, Fair Trade or Direct Trade products are the way to go because they insure that workers are treated fairly (no slave or child labor), are paid a market wage, and farms employ sustainable growing practices.
- Choose only sustainable seafood. Do not eat Atlantic (US or Canadian) cod, haddock or yellowtail flounder regardless of how it’s caught. Cod has long been depleted and Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine fisheries are considered important conservation stocks according to Seafood Watch. Eat less fish overall by replacing those meals with sustainably grown lentils, beans, tofu, and other plant-based proteins. Buy only sustainable seafood, both at retail and in restaurants, by consulting the Seafood Watch mobile app. Locally farmed shellfish and small fish like anchovies, sardines, and mackerel are among the best choices.
- Make your beef grass-fed. Factory farmed meat is routinely administered hormones, antibiotics and fed GMOs. Consult our Guide to Grass-Fed Beef for area resources.
- Make your wines organic or biodynamic. Quality varies dramatically so please consult our Eco-Friendly Wine Guide before purchasing.
You already belong to a CSA or grow enough of your own food to feed your family. You compost, recycle food packaging, avoid using plastic bags, and do your best to eat everything you buy. What more can you do? Check this list to be sure you’re practicing everything on it, then this list providing ways to avoid food waste, then jump to the suggestions below.
- Make more sustainable choices away from home. It’s not easy to find a sustainable cup of coffee on the run or grab a quick bite to eat that’s not packed with industrial ingredients, so plan to pack your own drinks and snacks while running errands or traveling. When that’s not possible, consult our Guide to a Sustainable Cup ‘o Joe and Town Guides for sustainable eateries near you.
- Try one new locally-grown vegetable each month of the year – turnips or celeriac in January, rutabagas in February, mushrooms in March, dried beans in April, ramps in May, garlic scapes and kohlrabi in June, etc. When you stop to think about it, most of us eat the same 10 vegetables over and over. Why not add some flavor diversity to your diet?
- Learn to put up food for the winter months. Many books on canning are excellent resources for techniques and recipes, and demonstration classes are given at local farms during the second half of the year. Subscribe to our newsletter from the link on our home page to make sure you receive invitations to these events before they sell out.
- Make some artisan foods to appreciate the skill and time necessary to make them and experience the satisfaction of making them yourself. Fresh butter and mozzarella cheese are a revelation! Either buy a kit (Williams Sonoma sells many including this DIY butter kit) or check online for recipes and ingredients.
- Attend a dinner at a farm as a reward for all your hard work and dedication. Bring along some friends who will value the experience and be influenced to source more of their food locally. Subscribe to our newsletter from the link on our home page to make sure you receive invitations to these events throughout the state.