Find out how to create meal food sustainability for families, One meal at a time.
Learning how to reduce your carbon footprint at mealtime is a growing trend. In addition to making family meals healthy and delicious, people increasingly want to make sure that their meals consist of sustainable food choices. according to Food and Health Survey 2021 From IFIC, 42% of consumers believe their food choices have an impact on environmental sustainability, and 7 out of 10 report that climate change sometimes affects their food purchasing decisions. But what does that mean on your dinner plate?
What is sustainable food?
While many people consider food sustainability to focus primarily on the environmental factors of food production, there are other aspects of sustainable diets to consider. According to the non-profit Food Systems Sustainability Organization, food + planetThere are four dimensions to the sustainability of food systems, which include the following:
- the social and cultural. Sustainable food systems respect the well-being and rights of individuals, communities, cultures, animals and the environment. Factors include animal welfare standards, culturally appropriate diets, food justice, sovereignty, and health equity.
- feed. Sustainable food systems support human health through their quality, diversity, safety and accessibility. Factors include diet quality and variety, diet safety, improved health outcomes, and reliable access to food.
- economic. Sustainable food systems require economies that balance people, planet, and profits. Factors include affordable food choices, a circular economy, ethical business and sourcing, and responsible governance.
- planetary. Sustainable food systems arise from agricultural practices that are compatible with the environment. Factors include biodiversity, climate-smart agriculture, resilient agro-ecological practices, water, and soil use.
While planetary considerations, such as reducing carbon and water emissions for food choices, avoiding food waste, reducing food packaging, and eating a plant-based diet, are very important when making sustainable food choices at the family dinner table, other issues are important to sustainable meal planning. Consider factors such as honoring cultural food traditions, local food systems, food affordability and access, nutrient-rich food choices, and diet diversity. (2)
One guide to making sustainable food choices is scientific The EAT-Lancet Committee’s Planetary Health Diet, which addresses the health of people and the planet. In order to shift to healthy diets for people and the planet, it will take a major shift in eating patterns, according to EAT-Lancet. It would require doubling the consumption of healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes, with a 50% reduction in global consumption of red meat and added sugars. The analysis shows that these changes lead to significant health benefits by reducing global deaths by up to 24%, with significant impacts at the planet’s borders, such as biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural land and water use, and phosphorous and nitrogen use. This diet pattern is flexible, as it provides guidelines and ranges for food groups for an optimal diet, with goals in each section.
4 tips for making sustainable food choices for the whole family
The pillars of sustainable diets, including social, cultural, nutritional, economic and planetary factors, can be taken into account when planning healthy family meals. Try these tips to plan healthy, delicious, and sustainable meals for the whole family.
1. Consider cultural food preferences
What are the traditional family meals that are part of your family’s food culture? For example, beans and rice might be traditional food traditions, which also fit well into a nutritious, affordable, accessible, and low-carbon eating plan. Connect with these traditions by engaging in your favorite foods and memories.
2. Budget-friendly meal plan
Before planning healthy meals, it is important to determine the accessibility of healthy, affordable foods in your community. It is essential to work around your own food availability and budget.
3. Reduce food waste
The drooping fruit identifies opportunities to reduce food waste, which can help save dollars and negative planetary outcomes. Use leftovers, make third and second meals out of ingredients, such as beans and grains, and explain expiration dates on labels. Learn more about food waste here.
4. Planning more meat meals
Replacing meat with beans is a great way to promote sustainability in all four dimensions: economic, social, cultural, planetary and nutritional. Reduce your intake of animal food and replace those foods with plant proteins, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy foods.
sustainable family recipes
Try these sustainable and budget-friendly recipes for family meals:
- Food Trends 2022. International Food Information Council. Accessed August 25, 2022. https://ific.org/media-information/press-releases/wellness-nostalgia-innovation-and-new-views-of-sustainability-are-among-the-food-trends-for-2022/.
- Four dimensions of sustainable food systems. Food and the planet. Accessed August 25, 2022. https://foodandplanet.org/
- Food Planet Health. EAT-Lancet Commission. Accessed August 25, 2022. https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/07/EAT-Lancet_Commission_Summary_Report.pdf