Really Easy Steps For More Eco-Friendly Eating

 5 Ways to Make Better Food Choices - LivingHomegrown.com

I Used to Think, I Had a Handle on Food:

I grew up understanding where my food came from.

But through my lifetime, the way this country produced food changed dramatically. Going to the local butcher shop as a kid and going to the grocery store today are two completely different things.

As an adult, I read some of the books and watched some of the movies about our current food system.

They were eye openers.

So I started to pay more attention to my food choices (organic, sustainable, local). All the usual stuff.

Then, I just felt overwhelmed.

5 ways to better food choices - LivingHomegrown.com

For years, I tried to do the right things.

We grew our own organic produce, raised our own organic eggs, shopped the farmer’s markets. But many times, I still felt unsure about some of the food choices I was making.

The bottom line was that I didn’t always have choices available that were good for my family AND good for the planet.

I felt helpless with the choices.

So I would do what I think most others do. I would just buy what was convenient. I actually had no idea if it was sustainable. I just needed to get food on the table.

And with that came, guilt.

But then…

I Finally “Got It” – For Real This Time:

A few years ago, I took my family to spend a weekend at Polyface Farm in Virginia. (Made famous in many books and movies including The Omnivore Dilemma and Food Inc.)

Every 3 years, Polyface has an open day where they offer tours, give lectures about their sustainable farming system and basically share their lifestyle.

It was amazing. I was so impressed with the system of farming this family used, but also their willingness to share their information with others.

Within the same year, I wrote/produced an entire PBS episode on Joel Salatin and the Polyface Farm.

 Joel Saltin - Filmed by Growing A Greener World

While filming, we got to spend 2 days just following Joel Salatin around Polyface chatting about his philosophies and practices. We were even invited into his home for dinner. Although I had read his books and seen the movies he was in, it was different hearing it directly from him.

Joel has a way of making you feel empowered. And we are.

I began to realize that I could make more of a difference with just a few simple changes. It wasn’t so overwhelming after all and I wasn’t so helpless with our current food system.

It comes down to one thing. After all is said and done…

5 Steps to More Sustainable Food Choices - LivingHomegrown.com

I know you have heard that before. I had too. But it hadn’t REALLY sunk in before.

If I want things to change, then I needed to vote with my dollars. I need to make even more of an effort to support the guys who do it right.

So I made the following 5 changes:

1) Beyond Organic:

I was already an organic food eater, but I started to buy food that was “beyond organic”. I wanted it to be as sustainable as possible and to me, that meant I needed to buy grass-fed beef instead of just buying meat that had been raised on “non-GMO grain” Yes, it is way more expensive, but that just made it more valuable to me. And it tastes better! It really does.

2) Less Meat:

Due to the higher cost of grass-fed meat, I now buy less meat. So, we have bumped up our non-meat choices of vegetables and grains, which is always a good thing.

3) Less Waste & More Preserving:

We are less wasteful with our food because everyone in my family now better understands the environmental costs as well as the monetary costs of our food. And as you can probably guess, canning and preserving is more important than ever before. Preserving food is a simple way to help the planet and budget at the same time. You are giving your family wholesome food while throwing less away. It’s a win-win.

5 steps toward better food choices - LivingHomegrown.com

4) Ask Questions:

I have always tried to support my local farmers and buy at farmer’s markets. But I now think it is important to seek out the ones that are going a step further in environmental responsibilities. A real sustainable farmer will have no problem answering your questions or even letting you visit the farm. So when you visit the farmer’s markets ask about their production and better yet, try to visit in person if you can.

5) Vote:

I realized that we really do vote with our dollars. Every time we buy industrialized chicken from the supermarket, we are supporting that horrid system and the inhumane way those chickens were raised. Every purchase makes a difference and I try much harder to support the system and the farmers who are doing it right.

Do I blow it sometimes? Absolutely. But here is the bonus tip:

5 steps to better food choices - LivingHomegrown.com

There are still a few things I eat that don’t fit the bill, but I am slowly trying to make more transitions. Each month, I get a little better. It’s a process.

So don’t try to be perfect. Just try to be better!

I am finding that it gets easier as I go. As one choice becomes routine, I can tackle the next one.

What about you?

Are you trying to shift your food choices?

Have any tips to share?

Tell us in the comments!

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About the Author

Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive TV Producer and the On-Air Canning/Homesteading Expert for the national PBS gardening TV series, Growing A Greener World. She is a lifetime canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program. She studied both sustainable horticulture and professional culinary arts and she is a wrangler of chickens and two teenage children. (Not necessarily in that order.)

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Holly July 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

    It is hard as we Americans always want things now including change in our own lives, even tho we know that life just doesn’t work that way. I’m trying to be better but as with a lot of us have a long way to go. Your blog has inspired me to retry canning. This year it will be pickles and potatoes (I hope). Plus I have a small container garden that I’m trying peas and beans in pots, among other veggies.

    Reply edit
  • Catherine Dean July 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Teresa, you are so right, it can be overwhelming. We too have made gradual changes over the last few years-the only way to do it in my opinion. Great post!

    Reply edit
  • Deb September 4, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Theresa – thanks for the reminders and the great list of things to think about while I shop. I feel I should have your list laminated to my wallet as a reminder. ;>

    @ Holly- a lot of potatoes don’t hold their shape when canned. The ones a friend did will be handy to add to stews, but not much good for anything else. And they must be pressure canned. Potatoes can be ‘root cellared’ or stored in a cool dry place for months without canning.
    Pickles, on the other hand, are a great place to start (or re-enter) the canning world. I’ve bought pickles for years because we eat so few and they cost so little, I felt I couldn’t justify my time making them. When I read the label of our favorite brand and HFCS was listed, I decided it really was worth my time to make pickles. It was a few hours project, and I spent more on cukes than I think I usually do on a year’s worth of pickles, but they were organically grown by a farmer less than 10 miles away, and now I have 14 pretty jars with a short ingredient list sitting on my shelf.

    Reply edit
  • Patsy Bell Hobson November 10, 2014 at 1:28 am

    I love your newsletter.There are so many out there that I just delete on arrival. But when your newsletter arrives, it’s coffee time. Time to take a break and enjoy all the information.
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    No requests.
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    Just to say how much I enjoy you newsletter and blog. Thank you.

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