This post was originally published on February 20, 2017 and updated on October 21, 2020.
Adding more earth-friendly foods to your table doesn’t have to result in dull, tasteless and expensive meals. Ingredients such as organic spices, Malaysian sustainable palm oil and grass-fed beef can liven up family meals while also caring for our planet. These five eco-friendly shopping tips will help you please your family, your values and your budget.
1. Upgrade only your most-used spices: The use of chemical fertilizers and plant pesticides is a growing concern in the spice industry. But organic spices and herbs can be pricey, so invest in organic only for those that you use all the time. Here’s another money-saving tip: Whole ginger root is a fraction of the price of powdered. Buy a root and cut into 1-inch cubes then toss them into the freezer. Grate a cube whenever a recipe calls for this fragrant spice.
2. Switch to a sustainable, non-GMO cooking oil: Upgrading this kitchen staple just makes sense. Why buy healthy, sustainable foods and then cook them with oils made from genetically modified plants? Look for Malaysian palm oil at your co-op, natural food store or international grocery. This non-GMO oil is heat stable so it’s ideal for grilling, baking and frying. Look here for tasty, family-friendly recipes using environmentally responsible palm oil and other planet-friendly ingredients.
3. Shop the farmer’s market: The fresh fruits and veggies at your local outdoor market was grown nearby and is most likely freshly picked, perhaps even that day. The produce at your local supermarket has probably spent hours or even days on a truck. Bring the kids and make it an outing. Some markets are adding kid-friendly activities such as crafts and music.
4. Visit a pick-your-own farm: Everyone in your family will enjoy picking their own strawberries, blueberries or cherries. And, it’s usually less expensive than buying fruit from at the supermarket. Find a list of pick-your-own farms online, such as at www.pickyourown.org. Be sure to call before visiting as picking conditions change daily. Make easy refrigerator jam or sauce with your bounty. Then freeze the rest so you can enjoy these sustainably grown fruits year-round.
5. Look for “grass-fed”, “organic” or “pasture-raised” beef: Raising livestock takes a big toll on our environment. It uses more than 70 percent of our agricultural land and is the largest driver of deforestation in the world. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up meat if you want to eat sustainably. Just choose quality over quantity. When cooking, combine meat with healthy (and less expensive) plant-based foods. Throw some black beans into ground beef when making tacos or combine chicken with quinoa when making a casserole.
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