6 Ways You Can Eat Better for the Planet — and Yourself

by Carolyn Auwaerter

September 22, 2016

The food revolution should start with our heads and end with our stomachs.

We have an overwhelming number of options of where and what to eat, but the most important thing we can do is choose to eat consciously. When we ask ourselves questions about what we’re putting in our bodies and where it comes from, we create a stronger connection with our food and can enjoy it more.

Farmers who practice eco-agriculture hold this ‘conscious’ mindset by placing people — both those who work the land and those who eat food — at its very heart. Eco-farming combines modern science and innovation with respect for nature and biodiversity. It ensures healthy farming and healthy food. It protects the soil, the water and the climate. And it doesn’t contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or use genetically engineered crops.

Now is an especially opportune moment to make some changes to your diet, because farmers are harvesting a bounty of delicious food.

Here are some simple ways to start eating more consciously and take advantage of all that autumn has to offer.

Ecological chard is harvested at Say Hay farm, California, USA. The chard will be loaded into a van and delivered to Good Eggs, a business in San Francisco who provide a direct link from the farmer to the consumer.

Ecological chard is harvested at Say Hay farm, California, USA

1. Buy food from local farmers.

Farmers are stewards of our environment, and when we support them, we also increase our food sovereignty —  the ability of communities to be in control of our food.

Local food is becoming increasingly easier to access, sometimes even as simple as shopping at your regular grocery store.  Otherwise, visit a neighborhood farmers’ market or sign up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share, where you receive a box of produce from a farmer every week for a season.

Many farmers’ markets welcome people who need food assistance by accepting, and sometimes even doubling, supplemental nutritional access (SNAP) and women, infant, and children (WIC) benefits.

2. Eat seasonally.

Food grown in season is cultivated in the conditions just right for sun, water, and soil to help plants make amazing fruits or vegetables.  And that means you’re getting food packed with flavor and nutrition.

Eating seasonally also creates strong cultural connections by associating a time of year or holiday with a particular food.  That’s why I always look forward to making pumpkin bread with my mom in Autumn!

3. Eat less meat.

Meat is an important part of many people’s diets as well as their heritage and identity, but we should also limit our consumption.  The livestock sector, which raises animals like cows, pigs and chickens, generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and automobiles combined!

Grains, nuts, and beans are great sources of protein that can take the place of meat.  One of my favorite simple dishes is a stir-fry of veggies with red beans and brown rice.

4. Grow it yourself.

Gardening is the ultimate way to be a conscious eater as you’re growing food yourself!  If you don’t have a backyard, find out if you can get a plot at a community garden or set up a container garden in a windowsill, on a porch or even at your office.

I recommend starting small with a few fast growing plants like herbs and greens.

Cooking puts you in control of what you eat.

Cooking puts you in control of what you eat.

5. Cook meals at home.

Almost all of the food we’ve been talking about comes to you as is, without any additives, preservatives or processing. Cooking puts you in total control of flavoring as well as food waste.

I like cooking the most with family members or roommates, because it’s more fun, and we eat sooner! I also always make enough food for more than one meal, so I can pack a lunch of leftovers.

6. Speak out about pesticides.

One billion pounds of pesticides are used every year in the United States. They end up in our bodies from the food we eat, are particularly dangerous to farm workers, kill bees and contaminate our land and water.

To fix our broken food system, we need food companies to change their supply chains. Send the world’s largest bread-maker Bimbo a message right now and demand it eliminate dangerous pesticides used to grow its ingredients!

Eating consciously starts with seeking out food that is flavorful, nutritious and grown sustainably. When we eat food like that, we nourish both ourselves and the planet.

Carolyn Auwaerter

By Carolyn Auwaerter

Carolyn Auwaerter is a Field Organizing Manager at Greenpeace USA. She works on climate and renewable energy in the southeast and Greenpeace's Food for Life campaign.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.