Earth Day began in 1970 as a way to bring awareness to the environment and especially air and water pollution. Many people did not know much about environmental science at that time, and people who did were considered a bit on the strange side. Fast forward more than forty years and environmental science and being green are the wave of the future. It’s actually trendy to show concern! Many people try to live sustainable lives, leave a low carbon footprint on the land, buy local by joining a Farm CSA, or support clean energy sources for their homes. It’s just the right thing to do for our planet.
Some simple ways that you can do your part to support Earth Day with your eating habits for the coming year are:
Practice Healthy Grocery Shopping: Shop with a healthy grocery list and purchase real foods and limit processed foods, genetically modified foods, and food additives. If a food label contains ingredients you can’t pronounce, avoid buying it. Over 40 % of purchased food is wasted, so shop wisely. In many cultures people shop daily and only buy what they need. I love this. Practice meal planning and only purchase foods you from your list, rather than shopping the aisles of various markets! You will save time, money, and avoid waste.
Practice Portion Control: Two thirds of our country is overweight or obese and experience health problems. Too many calories and fast food are eaten. Limit your food intake by using meal plan strategies. Decrease your consumption of meat which takes more energy to produce than fruits and vegetables. Most cultures do not make meat the centerpiece of the meal, but use it as a flavoring. Consider joining the Meatless Monday regime where you do not eat meat on Mondays to celebrate Earth Day this year. There are so many delicious meat free meals.
Use all leftovers to avoid waste. There are several ways to do this. Eat the same meal twice, take lunch leftovers, or repurpose the meal into another meal that does not resemble the first meal. This is so simple to do, but takes a bit of planning. If you plan a roast one day, you can make a stew in the next few days from the leftovers. There are many ideas for repurposing leftovers.
Consider making a pot of healthy soup each week that can use all of the leftover vegetables that you might be tempted to throw out before shopping. Some of my most amazing soups have been made from my weekly refrigerator clean out. Make it your goal to throw away no food and see if you can accomplish this. You will be amazed at the money that you will save. A huge pot of soup will also yield lunches for most of the week as an added benefit.
Take up the lost art of Canning and Freezing to celebrate Earth Day. Start a vegetable garden, join a local CSA, or visit your local farmer’s market to purchase the freshest produce. Can and freeze for the coming year. This might mean you need to purchase canning jars, a canning water bath, pressure cooker, or a freezer, but those are one time purchases. My mom freezes much of her vegetables for the year, and they are nicely stacked and labeled in her freezer.
Consider joining a local farm CSA or at least shop from your local farmer’s market. You can purchase local, freshly picked produce that has not been transported half way around the globe. Food tastes and smells so much better fresh picked. Know which foods are heavily treated with pesticides and purchase organic choices as much as you can for them. Organics have come down in price in the last few years and there are often sales. A savvy frugal shopper who does not waste 40% of his/her food purchases can afford organics!
Recycle in any way that you can and avoid using the dump. Many communities have huge recycle programs. Recycle all of your papers, cans, plastics, newspapers, and magazines. Don’t be lazy. Compost your food scraps, if you have a place to do so, or get into the art of red wiggler worms! These are all simple to do and will save landfills. Don’t buy single packaged goods, but buy the largest containers possible to generate less trash. Get creative.
Life is to be lived to the full, but not in excess. Many of you live in excess; excess weight, excess stuff, and excess bills, from overeating and overbuying, which leads to overproducing in the world. Please protect the earth this year by living prudently. Happy Earth Day for the Entire Year!
Earth Day Kids Project at Squaw Valley, California on 4/21/12
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