Earth Day is an annual event that is celebrated worldwide yearly on April 22nd to demonstrate support for environmental protection.. The very first Earth Day was in 1970 and this celebration is still going strong. The Earth Day Network coordinates events around the globe and more than 190 countries participate each year!
This day offers a great opportunity to take action and live the Earth Day message beyond one day. Here are some great tips to help you eat healthier and more eco-friendly!
Diane’s Earth Day Takeaway
- Minimize the meat: Eating less meat will improve your health and the health of the planet. You may also discover foods you may have never tried (and liked) before. Meat-heavy diets have been linked with everything from cancer to stroke. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of eating a more plant based diet. Also, the meat industry contributes nearly 1/5th of the man made greenhouse gas emissions. I am not a vegetarian but do eat a ton of veggies and limit my intake of meat by opting for fish and plant based proteins much of the time.
- Cook consciously: Using the right sized pan to get the job done reduces wasted energy. The smaller the pan, the less energy is needed to heat it up. Don’t use a giant skillet for a little job. If you boil water, use it right away and don’t let it boil on the stove needlessly which is burning energy. Pre-heat your oven for only as long as needed. Invest in cast iron which is my absolute favorite cookware. It is a great heat conductor, uses less oil for cooking and you can turn off the heat before the food is done and it will continue to cook. On another note, try not to waste water by running the dishwasher only when it is full and don’t keep the faucet running if you’re not using it.
- Watch the waste: The amount of food waste in America is mindblowing! By some estimates, nearly half of the food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. goes to waste.Composting is obviously the best way to reduce food waste but for most of us this is an unrealistic solution based on time, where you live, resources available to make it happen. There are steps you can take to reduce food waste in your own kitchen. Plan ahead and you will save money, time and you will eat healthier. Make a shopping list. Don’t buy more perishable items than you need and keep them in eyesight in the fridge so you remember they are there and can go bad. If fruits and veggies are on their last days then cook them up and freeze for another time.
- Flashback to family dinners: Eating together offers benefits other than the time to catch up with what’s going on in everyones life and a few minutes of unplugging from the obsessive technology of today. Think about it, if the family eats together only one meal is being prepared which uses less energy in the kitchen then if everyone is making their own meals.
- Choose local and seasonal: Local farmers harvest their produce at the peak of freshness when nutritional quality and flavor is at its peak. Buying local and seasonal foods is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, support local farmers, save money and maximize nutrition, taste and freshness. Visit your local farmers market, bring your own bags, grab the kids and try some new foods. Coming soon…top tips for shopping at your local farmers market. Stay tuned 🙂
- Opt for organic: Organic eating is not just about chomping on a pesticide-and-chemical-free-apple. Eating organic can help to keep the environment safe from pesticides and other toxins. There are both short- and long-term benefits for us and the planet with organic and other sustainable production methods. These include, reduced nutrient pollution, improved soil organic matter, lower energy use, enhanced biodiversity and reduced pesticide residues in food and water. If, like many of us, having an entire organic kitchen is out of your price range, prioritize. Consider cutting back on junk and processed foods and spend that extra dough on some of the following organic foods…meat, milk, eggs, apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported grapes and nectarines, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale, collard greens.
- Grow your grub: Consider growing your own herbs and veggies. I know it may seem intimidating but it is really super simple. All you need is soil, water and light and you can grow a wonderful garden on a windowsill, deck, balcony, rooftop or patio. There are endless options of colors, varieties and shapes of produce that you can purchase in seed form. This allows you to experiment with so much more than is available for purchase at the store. You will notice the benefits to your physical and mental health, wallet, taste buds, environment and family. Happy Earth Day everyone!