My name is Wells Ross, and I am a Dietetic Intern on the OUHSC campus. It is a certificate program. I completed my BS-Dietetics at the University of Georgia in 2018.
What is sustainability? Sustainability is defined as “the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore being able to continue for a long time.” When I think of sustainability, I think about reusable grocery bags, recycling, or composting. However, there is a big push towards sustainability in the world of food and nutrition, starting with farmers and ending with consumers (aka YOU!).
Farmers started practicing sustainable agriculture in the 1990s when the U.S. Congress addressed the topic in the farm bill. Many countries have started to work towards a sustainability policy in their consumer guidelines and education programs while navigating the challenge that food is not only nutritional, but is often influenced by culture, religion, and socioeconomic status. This has made this topic difficult for lawmakers over the years, but they are continually looking for and finding new ways to include sustainability into the dietary guidelines.
If you are wanting to be more sustainable in your buying and eating habits, there are many small changes you can make in your lifestyle that will hugely impact your environment.
● Reduce food waste. It is a great way to save money AND reduce your carbon footprint. It’s really not as hard as you probably think. It’s a simple as making a grocery list before you go shopping to make sure you do not rebuy things you already have in your pantry. Another way to reduce food waste is to plan your meals before you go shopping so you can see what foods you can buy and use in multiple meals or to ensure you only buy as much as you need for the meals you plan on making. Also, make sure your fruits and veggies are stored correctly to keep them fresh for longer and freeze produce before it goes bad to extend the time you can use certain produce. If your bananas are about to go bad, freeze them and throw them in a smoothie the next week!
● Shop locally. Buying local produce is a great way to cut down on fuel used for shipping. Going to a local farmers market with friends makes for a fun Saturday.
● Plant your own backyard garden. Seeing food through from seed to your plate will help grow your appreciation for your food and where it came from. Additionally, it will influence your future buying, using, and disposing practices. If you have kids, an added benefit of planting your own garden is kids are more willing to try new foods if they see where it came from and get to participate in the gardening process.
● Eat in season. When you buy produce that is not in season, it is often shipped in from far away. Focusing on local, in-season produce is better for your wallet, pallet, and sustainability as a whole.
● Reusable water bottles. Replacing plastic, disposable water bottles with reusable ones is an easy way to save fuel from shipping, reduce plastic waste, and save you money too!
Keep all of these tips in mind next time it’s time to make a grocery run!