With Earth Day (April 22) right around the corner, I wanted to share something meaningful to my life, and hopefully inspiring to yours. One of the easiest and most effective ways to help the earth is to rethink how you shop, what products you purchase, their packaging, what meals you make and even what you carry your groceries home in. These all have the potential to make a huge difference in the health of our planet and your family's wellbeing.
Since I spend my days at farmers' markets and cooking with my clients, I’ve found the following tips helpful to both my shopping and meal planning:
1. Plan to shop smart.
Make a meal plan. Try this easy one from Earthbound Farm, which sells my favorite organic produce, such as spinach and romaine. (Their products just look so delicious in the store that I simply can't resist!) Make only one trip to the food store per week to save on gas, or walk and bike to the store instead of driving your car.
2. Be choosy about the products you purchase.
Buy only what you think you'll use, and use up all your food in the fridge before you purchase any more. You’ll keep your pantry clutter-free and keep forgotten food out of the landfills.
Build your meal plans around versatile products and look for unique ways to use the food. For example, consider making a batch of rice on Sunday then using it for rice pudding, rice pilaf, stir fries, rice burritos and rice porridge all week long!
3. Bring your own shopping bag.
Swap out those paper and plastic bags. Sport your own fancy bag to your grocer so that you're saying "yes" to keeping trees in the ground, chemicals out of the environment and bags out of our landfills.
4. Be wise with your packaging.
Look for packaging that can be reused and recycled, as well as resealable packaging, so you don't need extra plastic to store food after each use.
5. Go organic and read those labels.
Keep your eyes peeled for the USDA Organic seal; this means the products were produced without irradiation, GMOs and toxic synthetic pesticides. Whenever possible, choose organic meats, dairy, grains and produce, as well as sustainable seafood. It's so easy to do and you can feel good about helping the environment while you shop.
Always scan the ingredient label on the back of the package. Sneaky sugars, chemicals and additives are put into everything from water to salsa and yogurt.
So go ahead and make a pact with yourself and your family to green your home and shopping cart this spring. You CAN make a big impact with small changes; whatever purchases you're making today have a huge impact for your tomorrow.