farmers market

We hate to say it; but there is far more to eco-eating than simply organic. Organic is wonderful and certainly always a step in the conscientious direction, but food is a complicated matter indeed. The food system is responsible for 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions, the US food system alone contributing 5% of all global emissions, which, as we all know, causes global warming (excuse us, global climate change).

Your foodprint – or carbon footprint drawn from eating habits – is one of the most profound ways to shift your lifestyle. If you need help transforming your plate, check out this cool Carbon Footprint Calculator. You drag what you eat into the pan and it calculates your foodprint, giving you suggestions for change.

Keep the following five things in mind in terms of energy-efficient eating, and you’ll be cutting down your environmental impact in no time:

1. Meat and dairy are the worst eco offenders! Livestock production causes 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases. The animals themselves emit methane into the atmosphere, 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Also, the energy inputs with raising livestock far exceed the output, but due to things like government subsidies and poor conditions for the animals, these businesses continue to thrive.

2. Eating foods that are out of season means they’ve been shipped from a climate far far away or grown in a hothouse which is incredibly energy intensive. Read up on the 8 Best Fall Green Vegetables. 

3. The way you cook your food certainly contributes to its carbon footprint. First off, eating raw foods is aces, generally requiring the energy needed to use a knife. When you do cook, try to fill the oven as much as you can (baking everything at once), put lids on your pots and use low- to medium- level flame on your burners. Another way to look at it is that when you cook foods, you essentially cook out some of the nutrients. Something to definitely consider in striving to be a green eater is packing a nutritional punch with each eating selection, or the nutrient density of your dish. 

4. Avoid eating foods that have been shipped via air, which basically means one very important thing that will drastically reduce your carbon impact: farmers markets baby!

5. You know how your mom made you eat everything on your plate before you were allowed dessert? She was onto something. Food is precious and should be treated as such. Make only what you can eat, and save what you don’t for later (Check out our 4 Tips for Safe and Eco-Friendly Food Storage). Wasting food is just a shame. That homeless man down the street will gladly (or grumpily) accept your doggie bag. Also, packaged and processed foods generate a ridiculous amount of waste. 

image: Natalie Maynor