Did you know that October 16th is World Food Day? This international event is organized by the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization to bring more attention to how people and the environment are affected by our current systems of food production and consumption.
In particular, the UN uses World Food Day as an opportunity to speak about how we can all help more people get food security and better nutrition, while also promoting sustainable agriculture. These concepts are especially important amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which threatens access to food and income for a number of vulnerable populations around the world and right here in the United States.
Ready to get involved with World Food Day? Check out our list of everyday actions you can take to become a champion of health and sustainability, simply by making smarter choices around food.
Change Up Your Eating
Bringing a diverse group of foods to the dinner table can make an impact on the sustainability of food chains around the world. It’s healthier for your body, the soil and the environment – not to mention better for people who work across various food-based supply chains. Plus, eating a variety of foods is delicious! Try new meats such as venison, or meat-free alterative protein sources like tofu and nuts. Replace rice and pasta with lesser-known grains like buckwheat kasha and millet. And, check out more types of vegetables like bok choy, bitter gourd and taro.
Give Back Locally
COVID is deepening hunger crises around the globe, adding on to problems that existed before the pandemic. If you’re fortunate enough to have the money, time and resources to feed yourself and your family, think about how you can help others. There might be food-related volunteer opportunities in your area, or perhaps you can get involved with a canned food drive at a local food bank. Check online for options in your area. Working with a food-based charity is a great family activity too, which teaches children to appreciate the food they have and to recognize the importance of helping others.
Buy Local & Seasonal
Buying locally grown produce is an easy – and delicious! – way to reduce your carbon footprint. The less area food has to travel to reach your kitchen table, the less impact will be made on the environment. Once you’re already shopping from local producers, eating seasonal food is the next natural step. You’ll quickly find that local farms, co-op boxes and farmers markets are replete with whatever’s in season. Eating in step with the season encourages crop diversity, gives you riper, tastier and more nutritious ingredients, and as an added bonus, seasonal produce often comes at a discount.
Help to stop the cycle of food waste at your own kitchen table! To get started, make it a goal to learn how to properly store uneaten food and become an expert at preparing or freezing leftovers. Indeed, cooking with leftovers is a great way to save money while also reducing your household waste. Save and clean glass jars to store your leftovers, or invest in a tough set of Tupperware. You can check on “eat by” dates online to make sure you get the most mileage from the food that’s already in your fridge.
Speak With Your Community
Individual action doesn’t have to be limited to just yourself. You can promote healthy and sustainable food habits amongst your friends, family and wider community by posting to social media (#WorldFoodDay) or simply opening up the conversation in person or via a phone call. Food is always a fun topic of discussion, so next time you’re speaking about your favorite dessert recipe or where to order takeout, see how you can bring sustainability into the discussion. How about a sustainability dinner club or recipe swap?
DIY Your Dinner Table
Growing food at home is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and teach you exactly how much work goes into producing the meals we eat. A backyard is best for starting a home garden, but a balcony can work equally well to grow your own herbs, vegetables and fruit. Check online for a run-down of what grows well in your climate or ask around at the local farmers market. Even if you’ve just got a few inches of counter space, that’s enough for a tasty indoor basil plant.
Be Mindful With Your Money
As a consumer, you have a great deal of power to choose where you spend your money. If food and sustainability issues are important to you, check out what retailers, ecommerce companies, local businesses and so on are supporting the things you care about. Many businesses are already taking actions to minimize food production waste, invest in sustainable and ethical agriculture practices, and lend a hand to smaller food suppliers. Choosing to shop with them is an easy way to show your support.