The second module in the Queen of Green Coaching project is FOOD. Being careful about what my family eats has become extremely important to me after my sister’s bout with breast cancer. What you put in your body has a direct impact on your health, and what you choose also has a direct impact on the environment. Here are some tips on how to eat green from my own families in the project, and Lindsay, the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green.
- Purchase more organic foods. Spend wisely and lower your pesticide exposure by 90 per cent when you go organic for the most contaminated produce! Apples, strawberries, imported grapes and sweet bell peppers are some of the worst offenders. Click here for the EWG Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen guide.
- Buy eggs from happy chickens! Learn how to decipher egg carton claims like
“cage free”, “free-run” and “free-range”. The best choice is organic!
- Choose sustainable seafood. Don’t eat bluefin tuna, and tropical shrimp or prawns. Download a Seachoice wallet card with green-listed seafood choices! I’ve actually found some sustainable seafood choices at Superstore. Acme Meat Market in Edmonton has a large variety of sustainable fish, and Effing Seafoods is another great source.
- Choose local, seasonal and Fair Trade. Visit a local farmer’s market (here’s a list of Edmonton & area markets), or have the goods delivered to you! Consider joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. I personally subscribe to The Organic Box and go to farmer’s markets as well. If you’re in the US, GRACE Communications Foundation has an Eat Well Guide where you can search for local farms, restaurants, stores, farmers markets, and CSAs all over the US.
- Cook from scratch. Pass on processed foods. They’re convenient, but homemade alternatives can reduce the overall environmental impact associated with processing, shipping and packaging. And many ingredients in processed foods—like palm oil, corn oil, refined sugar and preservatives—are hazardous to your health (see my list of ingredients to avoid on food labels here).
- Reduce food waste. A number of my families had this as a waste goal as well – with ideas like meal planning, and freezing and cooking produce before it goes bad.
- Add one more vegetarian meal a week. A lot of energy and resources go into processing meat. Try Meatless Mondays, make one of your daily meals meat-free, or the next time you eat out, choose a vegetarian option. When meat is on the menu, check out the EWG’s Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change. In Edmonton, there are several local farms that raise sustainable meat; my local favourite is Sunworks Organic Farm.
- Avoid BPA, Teflon and PVC.
- In 2010, Canada secured a world first — a formal designation of BPA as “toxic” (a hormone disruptor with links to prostate and breast cancer). Testing in the U.S. and Europe confirms that BPA actually migrates out of canned baby formula, beans, and soups to name a few. And Statistics Canada found 91 per cent of Canadians already have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. Unfortunately, kids have up to 11 per cent more in their systems than adults over 40. Try to avoid using canned foods!
- Avoid PFOA–a chemical in Teflon and other non-stick products slated to be phased out by 2015. This non-stick chemical is found coating dental floss, microwave popcorn bags, frying pans and even pizza boxes. As products with PFOA age and wear, the toxic compound is released. Teflon is a suspected carcinogen and hormone disruptor that we know stays in the body and environment forever. Choose safer alternatives like stainless steel, cast iron, or ceramic (which provides more of a non-stick surface). Healthy Child has a guide for a non toxic kitchen here.
- Ditch plastic food wrap made from PVC or polyvinyl chloride. PVC products use phthalates or plasticizers to make them soft and flexible. Unfortunately, these phthalates can leach out, especially in the microwave. Seek out alternatives like glass or other microwave-safe cookware and cover your leftovers with a plate when reheating. Try reusable food wraps instead of plastic wrap.
- Preserve your summer harvests by freezing, canning, or pickling!
What is something you can set as a goal for greening your food?
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