How to be an eco-friendly shopper and reduce your carbon footprint by following a low carbon diet.
Low carb diets are all the rage right now. Yep, I limit my carbohydrates (bread, rice, and pasta) to help slim down my waistline and to eat healthily.
But what if all of us carb avoiding eaters put as much zeal into following a low carbon diet?
Think of the positive impact that would have on the planet?
A low carbon diet limits foods that generate a lot of carbon (CO2) emissions in their production and distribution. So following this diet helps reduce your carbon footprint.
But you know the best part?
Following a low carbon diet not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions but it also helps you and your family stay healthy!
You avoid a typical American diet of over-consumption of meat, dairy, and processed foods that can wreak havoc to your health.
To start a low carbon diet you need to first start shopping sustainably.
What Is Sustainable Shopping?
When you are an earth-conscious shopper and thinking sustainably, you recognize that everything you buy has health, environmental and social impact.
Sustainable shopping helps protect the environment, promotes health, supports local businesses, and promotes animal welfare.
In short, sustainable shopping is your chance to support what is important to you and avoid products and services that do not align with your earth-loving beliefs.
What it’s not: flying through the supermarket on auto-pilot, throwing anything and everything into your cart and not thinking twice about how it affects you, your family, or the planet.
What it is: Making conscious decisions about what you are buying, how you buy it, and the ingredients you choose to eat.
As a consumer, you play an important role in determining the health of the environment. Currently and for future generations.
Wowzers, that’s kind of heavy.
But in a good way, right?!
The power is in your hands!
Being a knowledgeable consumer, you can make choices that support sustainable agriculture, humane practices for raising poultry and livestock, and the responsible harvesting of seafood.
All of these practices help protect the health of the planet and promote a healthy environment.
What Are Sustainable Foods?
They are foods that are good for the environment and for you.
It’s the production of food and other plant or animal products that use techniques that protect the environment, your health, communities, and animal welfare.
Essentially, it’ a way of food production that generates quality, healthy food that helps the planet thrive and ensures future generations will be able to thrive as well.
Let’s break out down a little more.
- Are real foods that our bodies were designed to eat.
- Are healthy for us, the soil, and animals.
- Support the local economy instead of large corporations.
- Are low impact and do not harm the environment.
- Are humane for both the workers and animals.
Why Is Food Sustainability Important?
Ok get this…
20 percent of Americans eat a “high-carbon” diet (rich in red meat, dairy, and exotic and processed foods) which is responsible for almost half of US food-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news?
You can change your behavior and food choices, which can have a big and positive impact on the overall national carbon footprint.
Everyone, yes even you, has the potential to fight global warming.
How inspiring is that?!
Shopping for locally produced and in-season foods to minimize emissions, buying only as much as you and your family can eat to reduce waste, and minimizing the consumption of red meat, dairy, and processed foods can help the damaging effects of climate change.
- Contribute to thriving local economies and sustainable lifestyles
- Protect the diversity of welfare of both the environment and animals
- Avoid damaging or wasting natural resources or contributing to climate change
- Provide good quality food and safe and healthy products
Environmentally Friendly Grocery Shopping
Are you pumped?!
Let’s do this!
Make a conscious choice to vote for a greener life with every dollar you spend.
Here are 11 ways to follow a low carbon diet:
1. Shop Locally
The best way to have a low carbon diet is to shop locally.
Here is how buying locally helps the planet:
- It reduces food miles. By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced in your local community. Conversely, when you shop at the grocery store, many of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate.
- More accessible. You don’t have to travel far to shop local. Most markets are in neighborhoods and are easily accessible by walking or biking. This helps decrease fuel consumption and carbon footprint.
- Protects local land and wildlife. By buying local, you are supporting local farmers and producers. Thereby reducing the chance of developers and big business producers to buy out the farm and incorporate inhumane and non-eco-friendly farming practices.
- Low Impact Practices. Farmers selling at markets minimize the amount of waste and pollution they create. Many local farmers use certified organic practices, thereby reducing the number of synthetic pesticides and chemicals that pollute soil and water.
2. Go To The Farmers Market
Going to your local farmers market is an easy way to know exactly where the products and produce are coming from.
You can build a relationship with the farmers and vendors and get the dirt (pun intended) on where they grow, how they grow, and the steps they take to positively impact the environment.
Tip: My local farmers market posts farmers bios on their social media page and it’s a great way to know who you are supporting. I love reading these posts and then connecting with them when I am at the market.
3. Join A CSA
CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. It is once a week or biweekly box full of local fruits and vegetables that are in season.
They can be delivered to your door or picked up at the farmer’s market, local markets or directly from nearby urban gardens and farmers.
The social and environmental impacts of joins a CSA are the same as shopping at your local farmer’s market.
Now that subscription boxes are all the rage, support a more environmentally healthy one and join a CSA.
Just search for one in your area.
I love, love, love having a CSA.
It’s so much fun to open a box be surprised with all the eco-friendly goodies.
4. Try The 100 Mile Diet
The 100-mile diet is when you eat locally sourced food that is grown and produced within 250 or fewer miles from where you live.
This means there is less fuel burned to transport food and less pollution.
Plus, many small, local farmers use organic methods and use earth-friendly farming methods or raise free-range animals.
This is a more extreme carbon food diet choice as it is hard to find everything you eat produced locally. But it is a step in the right direction to help preserve the planet.
5. Eat A Plant-Based Diet
Eating a more plant-based diet helps reduce your impact on the environment.
This is because the production of animal products generates the majority of food-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Not only that but cows emit the potent greenhouse gas methane during digestion, which makes cows and other ruminants such as sheep, especially high-emitting offenders.
Plants are grown to feed animals, which require land, water, fossil fuels, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer to grow. Then those plants are fed to animals that produce methane and manure.
So the solution?
Eating more veggies and eating less meat.
Having a meatless Monday or a vegetarian or vegan meal weekly can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the food system by more than half!
A mainly local sourced plant-based diet can also reduce negative environmental impacts. You will help:
- reduce the use of fertilizer
- Lessen the chances of the earth’s ecosystems from becoming more unstable
- slow down the dangerous levels of climate change
6. Eat Locally Grown Meat
That all being said, if you need to eat more eat due to dietary reasons, look for locally grown animal products.
Choosing local farmers helps support your local economy, contributes to your community, improves your health, and has a positive impact on the environment.
Look at the local CSA’s and farmer’s market for locally produced dairy, milk, cheese, fresh eggs, and meat.
Avoid unsustainably produced meats and animal products and choose to purchase from local farmers and producers.
Locally raised meat is often hormone and preservative-free.
My husband and I only buy our meats from the local farmers market and it is by far the healthiest, tastiest, and best quality meat we have ever bought.
7. Shop Seasonally
Buying food that isn’t in season has to travel a long way to get to your plate.
For these out of season fruits, nuts, beans, and vegetables to your supermarket, they have to be flown, trucked, or boated in from a long distance.
This adds to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, waste, and oil usage. All of which contribute to climate change.
Knowing what is in season and learning to cook with those ingredients is a step in the right direction for a carbon-free diet.
Help the environment and make sure that you are shopping for produce that is in season and local to you.
8. Preserve Your Own Food
To make that in-season food go a long way?
Learning to preserve local and seasonal foods helps you in your journey to a greener and environmentally friendly diet.
Canning, dehydration, and freezing are all great options for preserving foods to have year-round.
9. Buy Fairtrade
Can’t find seasonal and local foods?
Don’t have access to a farmer’s market or CSA?
Then look for foods that are labeled as Fairtrade.
Fairtrade is trading between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are paid to the producers.
Fairtrade helps supports environmental protection.
Including energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction, soil and water quality, pest management, biodiversity protection, the prohibition of genetically modified organisms and harmful chemicals and waste management.
If buying food from the grocery store makes you worry about how it affects the environment, know that buying fairtrade helps promote a healthy planet.
Fairtrade Standards promote training for farmers, which can include advice on switching to environmentally friendly practices. Such as developing nutrient-rich soils that support healthy plants and encouraging wildlife to help control pests and diseases.
10. Start A Garden
The best way to ensure you have access to local produce?
Start a garden!
This doesn’t have to be a daunting task, nor do you have to have a green thumb.
Begin with a container garden or potted herb garden and go from there.
Look for local groups who teach the basics of gardening.
I used to teach permaculture gardening principles at my local university through their all-volunteer adult education program. See if you have one in your area.
Cut down emissions, greenhouse gases, processed foods, and other harmful environmental practices by growing your own food.
Conclusion For Responsible Food Shopping
Whenever possible, shop at farmer’s markets, food co-ops, CSA’s, local health food stores, and socially and environmentally responsible chain stores.
Shop locally and seasonally. Support fairtrade. Make earth-smart food choices. Grow your own food and preserve it.
Every step counts!
Follow a low carbon diet to reduce your carbon footprint. And make educated decisions and find eco-friendly alternatives for the next generation.
Think globally, act locally.
Eating a low carbon diet may take a bit more effort, but the rewards for your family, the planet and future generations are too big to pass up.
What do you do to support a low carbon diet? What have you found works best for you? Share in the comments.