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HOW TO:
ACHIEVE FOOD SUSTAINABILITY

Learn about food sustainability, why it is important, and actionable, sustainable food and money-saving tips to reduce your eco and carbon footprints.

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What is Food Sustainability?

When we talk about “sustainable food” we mean producing sustainably sourced food that: 

  • Does not damage the natural resources, local wildlife, and communities needed to grow the food now or in the future;
  • Does not produce negative social or health impacts in the food consumption;
  • Promotes fair and equitable trade in the food industry; and,
  • Contributes to healthy economies across the supply chain from production to distribution to sale.

We also mean making the most of what food has already been sourced by ensuring food security for all and eliminating food waste.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8.7 million U.S. households experienced food insecurity in 2018. 

USDA 2018 Food Insecurity Graph

Additionally, an estimated 40% of food is wasted in the U.S. annually, amounting to $162 billion in food waste. If not wasted, this food could serve over 58 million meals in the U.S. annually. 

Eliminating food waste has environmental, social and economic benefits for U.S. families.

Source: NRDC, 2017
Source: NRDC, 2017

I think John Oliver does a great presentation on food waste in America, a video well worth 18 minutes of your life.

Why is Sustainable Food Important?

Food production, distribution, and consumption play a critical role in the health of our environment, society and economy.  Modern forms of irrigation, mono-crop agricultural, and farming practices are producing:

  • Nutrient depleted soils;
  • Top soil erosion;
  • Depletion of fresh water sources;
  • Air pollution through fossil fuel reliant equipment;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from animal wastes;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from unused food sitting in landfills; and,
  • The mistreatment of animals. 

Fishing industries are overfishing our oceans causing fish extinction.

Additionally, mass pesticide use is not only producing harmful health effects on humans, but they are also killing the ability for non-pesticide crops to grow and the local natural habitat and species, like bees, we rely on for pollination and food production.

Modern agricultural and farming practices promote transportation of food at great distances, causing more air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as lack of transparency in where our food comes from and how it was produced. 

With the rise of convenience, mass food producers are churning out pre-packaged, processed food riddled with sugar, salt, fats, and many preservatives I cannot pronounce, causing an obesity epidemic in this country that is sorely underreported.  These foods are less expensive than fresh, healthy food and, unfortunately, are the only choice for many American communities because they live in food deserts.

At this rate, we will lose our ability to sustain ourselves on fresh, organic foods that the human body needs.  We will live with more diseases, live less, and face rising medical and health insurance costs. We also will deplete our natural resources and habitats beyond the ability to sustain us, thereby causing mass job loss and drop in the economy. 

Sustainable agricultural, farming and fishing practices could reverse this.  By operating with sustainability in mind, less fossil fuel is used, fewer greenhouse gases are produced, responsible fishing methods are employed, and higher quality food is produced without depleting our biodiversity.  These practices, of course, pass on to the stores and restaurants that we shop from. 

How To Achieve Food Sustainability

The good news is that there are ways you can help now. You can individually implement methods of reducing your food waste production and reducing your non-sustainable food consumption through your daily actions and through the food options you use.

Little to big methods of change implemented individually can culminate to major, positive results towards reducing negative impacts on our environment.

Food Sustainability - Conscious Consumerism

CORR Concepts is doing the home work for you to take the guesswork out of sustainable food options.  Click the button below to be taken to the sustainable food third-party certifier list and ever-growing list of sustainable food options you can use to lower your eco and carbon footprints.

Food Sustainability - Behavior Changes

Changing your daily food consumption and waste habits is the other component to working towards food sustainability. These habit changes can be done in different levels. 

Below is a list of sustainable food tips – from the easiest “low hanging fruit” methods (lighter-colored boxes), to more complex or up-front-cost methods (darker-colored boxes below) – that may have long-term environmental, health, and financial savings. I encourage you to review these tips, pick some to use, and take the Sustainable Food Challenge below. 

If you want more tips and ideas, check out the Sustainable Food blog posts that are continually added for your convenience.

Sustainable Food Tips - How and Why

Sustainable Food Checklist image

Buy local food

Locally sourced food is fresher, requires less transportation and promotes local economies.

Benefits:

Local food is a better connection to the source by knowing who grew it and how, and promotes the local economy. Look for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs that allow consumers to shop directly with farmers for fresh and seasonal food.
Read More >

Buy organic

It may be more expensive now, but the more who buy the less expensive it will become.

Benefits:

Organic food has no pesticides, lasts longer and is healthier for human consumption. Additionally, organic farming practices have less negative impacts on environment, such as soil erosion, contamination and use of less energy.
Read More >

Say NO to a processed-foods diet

Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, meat, fish and eggs are proven better for human health.

Benefits:

Processed foods - those refined or had ingredients added to them - may increase shelf life but have empty calories and are linked to harmful health issues like obesity and heart disease.
Read More >

Contact your legislators

Contact your local and state government representatives to demand better food production and healthy food access policies and regulations.

Benefits:

When government provides policies, regulations and programs to the public, we all win in more choices for sustainably-sourced food and reduce our impact on climate change.
Read More >

Use FishWatch.gov

Make smart seafood choices by knowing which sustainably-sourced seafood to buy and which endangered seafood to avoid to support a sustainable fishing industry.

Benefits:

Over 1.7 million US jobs rely on the fishing industry. Protect jobs to support sustainable fishing, not overfishing. When you are ready to buy seafood at the store or restaurant, go to FishWatch.gov first to know you made the sustainable choice.
Read More >

Look for the Marine Stewardship Council label

When in doubt in the grocery store, look for the MSC's blue eco-label to know you are buying sustainably-caught tuna, salmon or other canned fish.

Benefits:

Like FishWatch, the MSC works internationally on providing certified fishing programs and information to consumers on which seafood choices are the sustainable choices to counter overfishing practices and supporting fishing industry jobs.
Read More >

Buy Fair Trade

If you cannot buy local, use the Fair Trade USA certified label to know you are supporting equitable global trade to benefit the environment, farmers, workers, fishermen, consumers, and industry.

Benefits:

Fair Trade practices ensure sustainable income and empowerment for global communities as well as promote sustainable business practices.
Read More >

Say NO to GMO

Bottom line, GMO-produced food was done so with the use of pesticides, like RoundUp made by Monsanto, that are toxic to human and environmental health. Do your research, and use the Non-GMO label, before you buy, and promote GMO labeling in the U.S.

Benefits:

Food produced without pesticides linked to cancer are an obvious choice to buy, but US producers are not required to label such food. Demand they do so.
Read More >

Cut down, or cut out, beef and dairy

Cows produce methane gas in their waste and use a lot of land and water resources to maintain.

Benefits:

Reducing or eliminating the amount of dairy and beef you consume daily will reduce your carbon footprint which is helpful to the environment.
Read More >

Sell-By vs Best-By vs Use-By

These dates are not regulated by the U.S. government and cause confusion for consumers causing too much food to be wasted causing hunger and rising landfills.

Benefits:

When in doubt, consume (or freeze) the product by the “Use-By” date to save money and prevent food waste.
Read More >

Shop for What You Need

The biggest rule in reducing food waste is do not over-buy or impulse-buy and use the food that you buy.

Benefits:

Using a meal planning app can help you from over spending for savings every month!
Read More >

Buy 'Ugly Food'

‘Ugly food’ classifications by the USDA prevent stores from purchasing healthy food, causing it not to make it to stores to be purchased.

Benefits:

Ugly food promoters ensure fresh food makes it to consumers to buy and preventing needless food waste. Check out those food manufacturers in the Upcycled Food Association you can support.
Read More >

Canning or Preserving

If you have the extra time, try popular food preservation methods at home: canning, curing, fermenting, pickling, freezing, drying and/or dehydrating.

Benefits:

Learning ways to preserve prevents food going to landfills and can stretch your food budget.
Read More >

Use the Whole Thing

A lot of food is wasted peeling off the skins of fruits (apples, kiwis), vegetables (carrots, cucumbers and potatoes), and meats. Seeds are thrown out needlessly.

Benefits:

Save unused portions of fruits and vegetables, including the seeds, to make soups, chilies, smoothies and other snacks. Being creative reduces food waste and less food you have to buy!
Read More >

Make for Leftovers & Lunches

Cooking for leftovers and packed lunches are a great way to reduce food waste.

Benefits:

Making extra and storing it for another meal saves time, and saves money on bought lunches and energy bills by not having to use your appliances again.
Read More >

Use a Food App

Food is wasted daily by not being sure how best to store it and for how long.

Benefits:

Using a food app, like FoodKeeper App, is easy and ensures you know how to properly store shelf, refrigerated, and frozen foods for longer lasting food and saving money.
Read More >

First In, First Out Rule

Much food is wasted annually by Americans simply because they can’t keep track of what food they have at home.

Benefits:

Remember, what food is stored first get used first. Keeping your refrigerator, freezer and dry storage areas clean, organized and labeled can reduce food waste and save money.
Read More >

Know How to Store Food

Food combined or stored incorrectly can degrade faster wasting food and your wallet.

Benefits:

Learning how to store fruits, vegetables and legumes, and preventing degradation from ethylene-produced foods, can make your grocery budget go a long way.
Read More >

Keep it Clear

Out of sight, out of mind stored food contributes to wasted food in refrigerators, freezers and pantries in American homes.

Benefits:

Storing prepped food and leftovers in clear, glass containers so you can see the food and not forget it’s there, ensuring you’ll eat it and save yourself extra grocery shopping.
Read More >

Indoor & Outdoor Gardening

Food sustainability is promoted by fresh food going fewer distances.

Benefits:

Gardening indoors or outdoors provides fresh food at your fingertips while preventing the need to drive a car to the store, saving money and the environment.
Read More >

Reuse Food Scraps

Foods not used in meals can still have a use! Go the extra mile to prevent food waste.

Benefits:

Used food like coffee grounds, egg shells, tea bags, can have multiple uses to further save you money.
Read More >

Compost

Wasted food goes straight to landfills that emit greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Benefits:

Composting your food waste will not emit methane gas and can be used as fertilizer in your indoor or outdoor garden.
Read More >

Dine Out Wisely

Restaurants were responsible for wasting 18% of food in 2015 in the U.S. All-you-can-eat buffets are a terrible contributor to this statistic.

Benefits:

When dining out, avoid the buffets, order smaller portions, share meals, or use your own take-home doggie bag to prevent adding to that restaurant statistic and save yourself time and money in preparing another meal.
Read More >

Make informed choices

Go beyond the label and “vote with your dollars" on what foods are, or are not, sustainably-sourced. If you didn't buy it, they wouldn’t produce it!

Benefits:

Your purchasing dollars speak to all businesses. When you vote with your dollars, like not buying GMO or non-organic foods or ethically raised livestock, you make the change towards better environmental, social and economic health.
Read More >

Work with local restaurants

Ask your favorite restaurants to only serve sustainably-sourced, locally-sourced, fair trade, and organic food, and provide nutrition information on menus.

Benefits:

Locally sourced food is fresher, requires less transportation and promotes local economies. Sustainably-sourced food, such as Marine Stewardship Council certified caught fish, promotes better food business practices for a sustainable future.
Read More >

Ask restaurants to donate unused food

Leftover food can be a major factor in local charities' and food banks' ability to help feed those in need. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act prevents any liability for food donated in good faith!

Benefits:

The typical American restaurant throws away 85% of food which could go to those 42 million Americans who struggle to feed themselves and their families. Have this conversation with your favorite, local restaurant to see what they can do.
Read More >

Stop food deserts

23.5 million Americans live in "food deserts" - areas with no access to affordable, healthy food options due to lack of grocery stores.

Benefits:

Work with local and state organizations and leaders to eliminate this national crisis.
Read More >

Present ballot measures

Don't think your local or state regulations are enough for protecting our environment? Present your ballot measure!

Benefits:

Worth the time, your own ballot measure, like proper sugar content labeling, could promote sustainable food industry practices and increased access to healthier foods in your next election benefiting all for a long time to come.
Read More >

Take the Sustainable Food Challenge!

Take the CORR Concepts “Sustainable Food Challenge” by:

1. Taking the pledge to buy local food. Get others to take the pledge.

2. Picking at least one more of the Sustainable Food Initiatives and implement them into your everyday life. Periodically, go back to remeasure your Ecological and/or Carbon Footprint to see if you’ve lowered your score. Keep adding more Sustainable Food Initiatives to your daily life to keep reducing your footprint(s)!

3. Sharing this webpage with at least one person so that the sustainability message will spread and enrich and benefit us all.

What are you waiting for?

Measure your Eco Footprint

Measure your Carbon Footprint

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