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Thursday, April 18, 2013

May 2013 Green Tips: Eating Consciously

Everyone needs to eat. What we choose to eat, what it's made of, and how it gets to our plates greatly influences how sustainable our lifestyles are. Fortunately, we live in California, where we can make healthy and ecologically responsible choices about our food quite easily because of our proximity to local agriculture.

Here are just three tips to get you started in having a more sustainable diet:

1. Eat non-processed food. If it comes in a wrapper with an ingredients list a mile long, try to avoid it. Opt for foods that you can identify without a label, and shop the perimeter of the store, where the fruits, veggies, meats, and seafood are found. Not only is there typically less packaging waste and factory production behind these more wholesome items, they're also typically better for you and allow you to have more control over what you eat.

2. Buy local food. When you're in the produce section, choose items that are from California. The shortest distance between farm and your fork, the less carbon dioxide emissions from travel. Check out the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market for locally grown foods. Not only does this reduce the carbon footprint of your diet, it also creates a better sense of community and it supports our local economy.

3. Eat less meat. While you don't have to become vegan to eat sustainably, it is a good idea to reduce the amount of red meat and other "meat" sources in your diet. As Americans, we tend to eat way more meat than is suggested for a healthy diet, but in addition to the health aspect, the meat industry is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions through factory farming and methane production by livestock, in addition to a wealth of other issues, including antibiotic use and environmental contaminants. To learn more about these issues, visit the Meatless Monday website. If you find yourself in the dining hall on a Meatless Monday on campus, talk to the students tabling to gain more perspective about why our campus participates in this movement toward eating less meat.

Our campus has a vibrant sustainable food culture with many ways to get involved, from the Farm to the gardens on campus to much more! Read about this movement here.

For more about the history of food in America and how we've become so dependent on non-sustainable practices, check out this Ted Talks video with Mark Bittman:

What kinds of things do you think about when making choices for what to purchase and eat? Do you have other tips for eating sustainably? Share in the comments!

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