There are so many things to think of when it comes to eating ethically that it can give you a headache as soon as you start thinking about it. Is it better to buy local products than fairtrade products from abroad? And isn’t it just too expensive to buy organic? What about the labelling and ingredients
Before you get too dizzy, take a deep breath and relax. The important thing is to shop consciously. The way we shop and eat impacts our health, our environment and producers all over the world. There’s not always one right answer, but the small changes you make to your grocery shopping will add up to a big difference – even bigger if we all start doing it. Start with one change, and next month add one more.
1. Buy organic
It really is best for you, and it’s better for the environment to not be dealing with so many toxic pesticides. Yes, it can often be more expensive than non-bio items. So if you need to ease in to it, choose items from the “dirty dozen” list below to buy organic – they are the food items with the most pesticide residue under conventional farming.
2. Buy local
Buy buying local, you are both reducing the number of “food miles” your meal has to come, and you’re also much more likely to be eating foods that are in season. You can try the weekly markets to meet growers from Luxembourg and the surrounding countries (look for their signs to see where the food is grown), or keep your eyes open for local farm shops or pick-your-own fields.
3. Buy fairtrade
Our food is grown by real people with real lives, families, hopes and plans. The Fairtrade label ensures better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. And there are more and more fairtrade products available in the Luxembourg supermarkets, especially coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, honey, and rice (sometimes these are in a separate part of the store – hunt them down!).
4. Eat less meat
The amount of meat eaten in the West is unsustainable and has a massive environmental impact, both in grazing land and the amount of food needed to feed the animals. Increasing the amount of vegetarian meals you eat each week could have the biggest green impact of all these options. And if you’re eating it less often, you can afford to buy the good quality organic meat when you do!
- Video – Eat Less Meat: It’s Costing the Earth (part 1 )
- The Impact of Eating meat on climate change
- Need Vegetarian meal ideas – try these two blogs: My New Roots and Sprouted Kitchen
5. Use less packaging
So you’ve brought your reusable shopping bags with you, but what about all those plastic bags you are putting into the trolley? Try choosing food items with the least packaging around them. Buying an aubergine? Put the sticker directly onto it (you’re going to wash it before you use it anyway) rather than putting it in a plastic bag. Or buy one large pot of yoghurt rather than six mini pots.
6. Take leftovers for lunch
Lunch foods bought from cafes and fast food outlets tend to have a large amount of packaging around them, not to mention how much money you could save by bringing lunch from home. If you have leftover food the night before, don’t throw it away – save it for tomorrow.
- Lunch Skins produce environmentally friendly reusable lunch bags –
7. Plan your menu
A huge amount of the food produced and bought in the West ends up being thrown away. Often this is just due to bad planning. You bought that fennel on a whim but now you haven’t used it and it has gone off. Take half an hour each Sunday to plan your menu for the week and make a shopping list. And then stick to it! You’ll save yourself having to compost all that wasted food.
You don’t need anything fancier than paper and pen to plan your menu, but here are two pretty ones that will make the process more fun:
This is the first part of our mini-series on living a more “green”, natural and ethically-minded life in Luxembourg. Add your ideas in the comments so we can all keep learning together!
Text and illustration by Fiona Lynne Kofoed-Jespersen, August 2013