Purchasing locally sourced ingredients can lead to a healthier and more environmentally responsible lifestyle. More and more people are becoming aware of the environment and making a conscious effort to become more responsible. Without exception, food is one of the most important ways consumers can live a more efficient (and often healthier) lifestyle. A few simple changes can yield big results in your budget, health and environmental footprint.
Grow and can your own foods
Canning is making a comeback. Consider growing some of your own fruits and vegetables and “putting up” jars of fruits, vegetables or soups for future months. Not only is home-grown food healthier for you, but you can control the ingredients when it’s time to preserve them. Once you make the initial investment for supplies, canning can also be economical. Save your vegetable peels and organic leftovers for a compost pile – this provides rich soil that can keep your garden going. The USDA offers a free guide on home canning at the website http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html.
Purchase foods with minimal packaging
Select items with as little packaging as possible. Less energy was used in the production of those items, and there will be less waste once you open the food. Minimally packaged foods are often healthier choices, which is also an added bonus.
Shop at local farms and farmers markets
When possible, shop for fresh ingredients from local farmers. The produce will be noticeably fresher than the food you find at the grocery store, and your money will support your local economy (your friends and neighbors).
Eat at restaurants that buy from local farmers
When dining out, choose restaurants that buy from local farmers. You’re guaranteed a vibrant, healthy meal, and you’ll support a local business.
Avoid fast food restaurants with lots of packaging
Skip the local fast food joint, which gives you three bags, a drink carrier and a large plastic cup for purchasing a value meal. The excess packaging creates waste. The energy used in shipping the products across the country is not environmentally friendly, and the food itself may include processed products, additives and unknown preservatives.
Bring your own coffee mug
Many coffee shops now allow you to bring your own travel coffee mug with you when you purchase coffee. Some will even provide a small discount for providing your own cup. If you stop for coffee every morning, consider taking your own cup to prevent the waste of a paper cup each day.
Only buy what you need or can store for future use
Purchasing more food than you can eat (before spoiling) will just produce waste that must be composted or thrown in a landfill.
Keep a pantry of food
Having a stash of food will prevent you from running to the store more often than necessary. You will also be prepared if there is a large storm or power outage.
Use cloth grocery bags
Not only will you use less plastic by bringing your own bags, but you may save a few cents, as some stores provide a discount for using your own cloth bags.
Buy a reusable water bottle
A good water bottle can be used for years, and you’ll prevent hundreds of water bottles from going to waste.
A few small changes in your purchasing and eating habits can lead to a healthier and environmentally responsible lifestyle.
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