Nourish Your Body & Planet: 5 Tips for Earth-Friendly Eating
A few weeks back, my dear friend and fellow "nutritionista," Caroline Nation, the editor and brains behind MyFoodMyHealth.com — an invaluable wisdom and recipe resource especially for those dealing with health challenges — inspired me to post on earth-friendly eating. I like to call it "eco-nutrition." What follows is an expanded version of the post, plus two delicious autumnal recipes from MyFoodMyHealth.com to inspire your earth-friendly efforts this season and beyond.
But first, what's eco-nutrition about? Basically, the idea is, each of us has just one body and one planet, so it's important to care for and be kind to both. One way to do just that is to eat with awareness, not only of the food itself, but how it came to be. Was the food on your plate raised sustainably? Was it grown in healthy, nutrient-dense soil? Was it raised without pesticides or genetic modification? On the journey to your table, did your food use a minimum of natural resources to get there?
These are some of the questions to consider when you're looking to feed yourself in the healthiest, most earth-friendly way possible. And while for some of us it's not always feasible to make every bite a certified organic one, there are many other simple ways to be kind to your planet as you feed your body — and here are 5 ways to do it:
1.) Eat outside the box.
Boxed, canned and bagged foods tend to be more processed and less nutritious, so the fewer the better for your body and the planet. Less processing, less packaging, less transport means more nutrients for you and less stress for the planet.
2.) Eat more plants.
Fiber, fiber, fiber! So essential and wonderful for the health of your gut, brain, mood, immune system and virtually every aspect of your being. Plants are a plus for the earth too because, in general, fewer resources are needed to grow and deliver them to your plate. I like to support farmers' markets where I find gorgeous, just-picked, locally-grown produce. The hands-on experience at the farmer's market is a great way to connect with the plants that truly nourish the body. Another way to put more plants in your life? Go meat-free one or two nights a week, and close the meat gap with filling legumes like black beans, chick peas and lentils, and "meaty" veggies like portabello mushrooms.
3.) Eat fewer creatures.
Rethink and re-design your dinner plate. If you love meat, poultry and/or fish, remember, moderation is key. When designing meals, try dedicating less than a quarter of the plate to animal products. Think of them as a tasty accompaniment to the meal, not a plate-filling centerpiece. Also essential: buy the best, healthiest animal products possible - as in pasture-raised, grass-fed and humanely-raised meat and poultry, and wild, pole-caught fish. They may cost somewhat more, but you will be using less, and in my opinion,`the earth and body benefits are worth a small sacrifice.
4.) Grow your own.
One of the kindest things you can do for the earth and your body is to grow your own produce. It doesn't need to be a massive undertaking, just a small space in the yard will do. Not ready to take up farming? Then try growing a few herbs and spices in window boxes. Not only will you be conserving resources by growing your own, but getting your hands dirty (literally) is a great way to connect your body with the earth and the good bacteria in the soil. Getting your hands dirty with a little gardening is also a wonderfully meditative and relaxing hobby — one that's also great for body and soul.
5.) Get dirty.
Get into composting which, with a little practice and a few hungry worms, produces nutrient-dense fertilizer to enhance the soil and aid the healthy growth of your plants. Think of it as your very own, earth-friendly, artisanal recycling facility!
Here's to your health — and to the earth's!