Sustainability in its simplest terms: Ability to maintain, withstand, endure
It is the ability to maintain and conserve the resources in nature thereby preserving our earth today and making it viable to support life tomorrow.
Sustainability is closely associated with social, environmental and geographic practices and impacts health, ecology, culture and ethics.
Food sustainability is achieved when the food travels the shortest distance from production to the table, when food is as natural as possible or the least processed or altered in growth, production, packaging and transportation to our homes.
We are in the day and age of industrial, vacuum packaged, encapsulated and genetically altered food.
The most sustainable food in the market does not have a label and the most processed food coming from the farthest end of the planet has labels!
So how can we help food and non-food sustainability in our homes?
- Source fresh, local vegetables and fruits and plan your menu based on seasonal availability at your local fresh or farmer’s market, cook and serve fresh, instead of prepackaged foods ready to microwave, that was made in the past with many additives to preserve the food and its form and has traveled half the globe to find a place in your freezer
- Grow what you can in a pot, in your backyard or garden. Use natural compost, not chemical fertilizers, as it affects the water table
- Preserve what is available locally today for future use
- Reduce intake of convenience foods – make what you can at home – sauces, yogurt, jam and preserves, marmalade, seasonings etc.
- Locally raised animals and fresh meat is superior nutritionally to meats from far end of the world
- Imported foods in our supermarket may be cheaper in price but it is robbing time and distance, not to mention health, nutrition and other hidden costs.
- Reduce use of plastics and Styrofoam. Separate recyclables
- Buy energy efficient appliances and equipment
- Car pool, take public transportation
- Plant trees around the house to save summer cooling bills
- Try a solar heater
- Fix leaky pipes, weather strip windows and use low flow toilets and showers
- Use rechargeable batteries, reusable wash cloth
- White vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda are better cleaners than harsher chemicals, use non-toxic cleaners
- Use both sides of a printer paper
- Shut the light, fan behind you, keep air conditioner at optimal temperature for energy savings
These are just a few examples, get creative around your house to save energy, carbon foot print, money and help breathe fresh air, eat healthy and lead a life with the satisfaction that you have preserved this earth for yourself and the next generation.
Ragini Raghuveer is a systems clinical nutrition manager for Sodexo Nutrition Services.