Food for thought: Celebrate with Father Christmas AND Mother Nature
The silly season may be nigh upon us, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be smart with our food purchases! As we get ready to welcome Father Christmas and get a little jolly ourselves, let’s not forget Mother Nature.
Here's some info on which foods come with the biggest environmental price-tag. When you go grocery shopping this festive season, please consider how sustainable your food choices are. To help you along, here are the facts about the best choices for seafood, meat and vegies… breadroll please!
November 21 is world fisheries day, so it’s a great time to reflect on the importance of sustainably maintaining the world’s dwindling fisheries.
The United Nations recently reported that more than two-thirds of the world's fisheries have been overfished and more than one third are in a state of decline. Fish stocks have been hit hard by the effects of global warming, overfishing by factory trawlers and coastal pollution and run-off.
So when you purchase seafood, make a sustainable choice. Here are some you should say NO to this NOvember and some alternatives to consider, courtesy of the Australian Marine Conservation Society:
|Yellowfin, Bigeye, Southern Bluefin tuna||Tropical trevally|
|Silver trevally||Tropical trevally|
Others to avoid: Blue warehou, Eastern Gemfish, Oreos, Orange roughy
For more info, you can download the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Guide here. They’ve got a very hand smart phone app too so you’ll always know which options are on the nose.
According to the UN, the livestock industry is responsible for a whopping 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions! We all know about those naughty cows and their beefy methane emissions, but the bigger issue here is that 30% of the Earth’s surface is occupied by livestock production, meaning that this industry is a huge driver of deforestation. What’s more the livestock industry accounts for 8% of all human water use and is the sector responsible for the most water pollution! Hmm maybe these vegetarians have got a point…
Here are the worst offenders in order:
I know, it’s sad to see cheese so high up the list, but the good news is that turkey and pork are not as bad as certain quadrupeds – so your Christmas lunch is still a goer.
Observing these simple rules will make a BIG difference:
- Choose chicken over lamb or beef.
- Take on meat free Monday and no cheese Tuesday.
- Go for pasture-raised or certified organic meats.
- Have larger veggie portions and smaller meat portions.
If your four-person family skips steak once a week it’s like taking your car off the road for 3 months!
FRUIT AND VEG
These days, the fruit and vegetables available on our supermarket shelves barely change from season to season. It used to be that tomatoes were a summer vegetable and cauliflower a winter one. Now you can buy either whenever you want them.
If you're eating tomatoes in winter in Victoria, they've probably spent a long time in a truck to get to you. They’ve also spent time in cold storage, using additional energy and resources. Fruit and vegetables that are transported long distances are usually picked before they're ripe so they don’t rot on the journey. If they aren’t transported long distances, out of season fruit and vegetables are grown in greenhouses. Either way, they’re not going to taste their best.
Although switching to seasonal eating habits can be a challenge, it comes with a lot of rewards. Eating food that is in season not only cuts food miles and energy, it also cuts your costs. Food is cheaper when it is in season and it also tastes better. And it makes the first tomato or strawberry of the season an occasion to celebrate!
Although the seasons can sometimes surprise us with what produce they turn out, here's a broad guide to what will be 'in' over the coming summer months, and a few that will be 'out'. Best bet is to see what's on the table at your local farmers' market.
Here’s what’s hot this summer:
Apricot, banana, berries, cantaloupe, cherries, fig, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew, lemon, lychee, mango, nectarine, orange, passionfruit, peach, pear, plum, pineapple, rhubarb, strawberries, tamarillo, watermelon, asparagus, avocado, beans, beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, corn, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, leek, lettuce, onion, peas, snow peas, potato, radish, shallot, silverbeet, squash, tomato, watercress, zucchini, basil, chilli, chives, coriander, dill, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme.
and what’s so yesterday:
Kiwi fruit, lime, mandarin, nashi, persimmon, quince, tangelo, broccoli, broccolini, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celeriac, fennel, horseradish, kale, mushrooms, parsnip, pumpkin, spinach, swede, sweet potato, turnip.
For bonus carbon points, why not try planting some of the summer fruit and veg yourself. It’s not too late to get your tomatoes in!