Is Your Diet Sustainable? Find out whether or not your lifestyle is healthy for both you and the environment.
Good morning young laddies!
How are we this wee morning? I’m partially still sleeping right now so I’m pretty sure this post is all just a dream right now. Because I would have nutrition and blog related dreams let me tell ya.
I hope you got my memo yesterday that this month’s link-up will be hosted today because of the holiday. And if you didn’t well..
Today is Did You Know…Link-up Day!
No idea what I’m talking about? Start here!
So now you know. No excuses. That’s a lotta
Today’s topic is about the popular term in the food world known as sustainability.
First off, what does sustainability even mean?
According to the Food & Agriculture Organization it is a diet that includes dimensions related to environmental impact, nutritional adequacy, cultural acceptance, affordability, and economic development.
Well then. For those not in the Food & Ag Organization that means your diet has food that isn’t killing motha Earth, is healthy, is not completely weird for your culture, won’t break the bank, and is profitable. Let me just say your breath better be sustainable for that long winded explanation.
Okay, so now you know the definition, so let’s find out, is your diet sustainable?
A research article from January 2014 published in the Journal for Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition set out to identify foods with low environmental impact, high nutrition, and affordable. Sounds like quite the task. I’m listening…
And what do you know, but the study took place in France. Omen much? The were able to pick the foods to best represent the French diet from a dietary survey with 1918 adults ages 18-79, which resulted in 391 representative foods based on the average consumption by participants.
I won’t bore all my non-nutrition nerds with all the science, but let me just tell you how each area of sustainability was measured.
Environmental Impact: Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions/Air Acidification (Acid Rain)/Freshwater Eutrophication (Increased Algae Development)
Nutrition: Per 100 calories and 100 kilograms (kg) amounts of protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin C, iron, saturated fat (interesting), added sugars, and sodium. Fats included levels of vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3’s.
Cost: Mean prices of food bought/amount from 2006 study with 12000 French households. Euros converted to US dollars with 1.26 exchange rate.
Enough with science, LET”S GET TO THE FOOD! Patience young sauterelle (that’s grasshopper in French). I’m a big table/graph/just give me a picture and I’ll understand learner so I thought I would make a little chart to show you the foods that were most sustainable for each category. Now I say for each category since it is unfair to put deli meat and lentils on the same playing field for sustainability. This is to help give you an idea of which foods are more sustainable against others in the same category so you can make more sustainable food choices. Okay, so about that chart now..
So before you get all flustered about how nuts and butter are on the bad list, let me tell you a bit how the chart is mapped out. This is when foods of the same category were measured for the three areas I mentioned before, environment, nutrition, and cost. So while some of these foods may be better in one area, the overall sustainability of it rated lower than the others.
Fish/Seafood is far more expensive than red meat, poultry, or eggs, but it rated far better in regards to environmental impact and nutrition, thus making it more sustainable.
Dried Fruits/Nuts were cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables, but had a much higher environmental impact and lower nutrition score, thus making them less sustainable.
The butter, ehh that’s up for debate. It rated low nutritionally and higher for cost and environmental impact..and I don’t really know what made up the condiments portion, but this was all done before the big butter news anyway.
If I could give some tips to take away from this study it would be these:
Reduce meat consumption.
Now I’m not about to get all PETA on you, but it is shown that meat consumption plays a big part on environmental impact. It takes a lot more energy/resources to produce a pound of beef vs. a pound of potatoes. I’m not saying you have to go vegetarian by any means, but reducing meat consumption by even a little bit can play a big part in the grand scheme of sustainability. If you don’t want to forgo the meat, you can at least switch up some of your red meats for fish instead. Which leads to the the next tip..
So while you can still have your steak and bacon too, I say the more local the better. Actually no matter what you are buying, veggies, fruits, meats, cheese, etc buying local is always best. This greatly reduces the environmental impact these foods have and increases the sustainability of your diet. Look for a local farmers market, join a CSA, or find a farm that produces and sells meat and eggs. Check out my friend Karey’s post about her first cow share (I’m still sketched out about that description though).
As far as fish/seafood goes, buy local or wild caught. Farm raised/ conventional fishing practices are not sustainable and leads to overfishing so buying wild is the next best from buying local.
Buy sustainable for each category.
Remember that part about cultural acceptance? Yeah, that’s where this plays in. Saying that fresh fruits and veggies are the most sustainable so you should just eat those for the rest of your life is just stupid and well…unsustainable. Each category of food offers different nutrition benefits and enjoyment, so it is more reasonable to pick the most sustainable choice in each category to make your overall diet balanced and you got it, sustainable.
Obviously this is a French study so the food choices may differ a bit from the American diet, but you get the overall idea. I’m just curious as to why wine didn’t make the cut 😉
Be sure to link-up your health/nutrition/fitness post and check out all the other lovely topics from my fellow health nerds!
Make it a great day!
Do you think your diet is sustainable?
What’s one food that’s local to your area?