Make an environmental impact with your food choices - Sustainable Series

One area of sustainability surrounds sustainable food. It is important to understand that you should work within the means that you have. This means, if you are in a food desert and don’t have access to fresh vegetables on a whim, these rules may not apply to you. However, if you can change your choices without severely impacting your life, why wouldn’t you? Do what you can within your means! For instance, as a university student I am unable to afford organic or high-priced produced all the time, but I try my best to do what I can.

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Buy local

The first area where you might be able to make an impact on your grocery list is by buying local produce. Most of the time, if you visit your local farmers market, you can receive a multitude of locally produced food for a fraction of it’s price. For instance, I remember one of my roommates purchasing seven zucchinis for $3.00. Mind you, if you don’t need seven zucchinis, you may want to look into different options!

If you are in the Waterloo, Ontario region we have two farmers markets in close proximity. You may want to visit the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market, open on Thursdays and Sundays. A short drive or bus ride away is the Kitchener Farmers Market that is open Tuesdays to Saturdays. With a little bit of planning and some time to not just focus on your local grocery store, you can make this change!

If you are unable to frequent a farmers market (like I am) most weeks, I suggest checking out the grocery label on your produce. Usually, in the corner of the tag that is attached to the produce it will say where the food is imported from. You may want to focus on “Ontario” or “Canadian” produce, obviously, if you are in these regions. This is a simple identification that I never considered until one of my roommates pointed it out. Supporting our local economy not only helps those producing the goods, but also society overall.

Low-impact food

It has been shown that certain foods have a lower impact on our environment than others. Some of these industries include but may not be limited to the Dairy industry, factory farming for “meat,” the egg industry and fisheries across the world. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. This makes it not a sustainable way to consume our food.

It is evident that a plant-based diet is among the lowest impact that one can have on our environment. If you are considering lowering your ecological footprint, you may want to consider consciously consuming by eliminating animal products from your diet. You don’t need to do it overnight, but with every burger you don’t consume (2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef), you are one step closer to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Minimal packaging (Bulk)

Bulk foods stores are becoming increasingly more accepting of people bringing their own containers to the store to load up on bulk foods. Some of these bulk items might include flour, nuts, seeds, and baking ingredients. The way that it works is that you bring your container to the store. The associate will then weigh it and indicate how much your vessel weighs on the lid of your container. You can then gather your bulk food items, bring it to the cash, and have it weighed again. Then, you can go on with your waste-free self and live your life!

Meal prep

When you meal plan, you know exactly what you'll have access to in your fridge for the week. This is a great way to ensure you are not over-purchasing products that end up being thrown away. When I first moved into an apartment, I was terrible at knowing how much food to buy. Frequently I would end up throwing away most of my produce because it would go bad.

My suggestion is to make a list before you do your grocery shopping. This way, you know exactly what food items you’ll need for the week. You can look at recipes that you will be using for the week and grab exactly what you need! This is what I do most weeks, give or take some snacks along the way as well. Eliminating food waste is another strive towards a lower ecological footprint.


Going forward, consider these sustainable practices in regards to food on your next grocery trip. Each way you encourage a sustainable lifestyle in the areas of your life, you are helping for a more prosperous future for yourself, the future generation and those who work tirelessly to save our planet.


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