34. Buy minimally processed foods.
Foods such as whole grains, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and fresh meats and fish retain their nutritional value if eaten right away, while most processed and boxed foods contain undesired preservatives and may contain fewer nutrients. Make sure that, when you purchase fresh foods, you only purchase what you can consume in a short period of time. Also consider preserving excess food at home by freezing, drying, or canning.
35. Preserve foods by freezing, drying, or canning.
By freezing, drying, or canning home-grown or local foods during growing seasons, you can reduce your consumption of non-local produce in the winter.
Despite worldwide food shortages, 40% of all food produced in the US ends up in the trash (source). The average American wastes 253 lbs of food each year (source)! Preserving your food is a great way to reduce your household’s food waste.
36. Purchase sustainable seafood and/or wild-caught salmon.
An estimated 90% of large fish, such as shark, swordfish, and cod, has been removed from the world’s oceans (source). The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, Blue Ocean Institute Seafood Guide, and Marine Stewardship Council offer guidelines that help consumers and businesses make informed choices about seafood purchases. Sustainable fishing allows the consumer to purchase seafood from sources, either fished or farmed, that can exist over the long-term without compromising species' survival or the health of the surrounding ecosystem (source). Also check out this guide for sustainably-caught sashimi/sushi.
Check the “Country of Origin” label when you’re at the grocery store. Farm raised salmon has ten times the amount of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (carcinogens) than their wild-caught counterparts. Wild salmon bear less environmental stress because they are not concentrated in a small area that has hazardous nitrogen levels and do not transfer diseases as rapidly as farmed salmon. Most Atlantic salmon is farm-raised. The best choice is wild Alaskan salmon while good alternatives are wild salmon from Washington, Oregon, and California (source). Check out this video on salmon choices to learn more.
37. Replace meat-based meals with vegetarian meals at least once a week.
The benefits of eating vegetarian for just one day can be startling, especially if everyone in the US does it! Collectively, the environmental benefits include saving 100 billion gallons of water, 70 million gallons of gasoline, 1.2 million tons of CO2 emissions, and much more. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads! Other benefits include reductions in solid waste pollution and methane production related to industrial meat production (source). Click to learn more about vegetarianism.
38. One or more household members eat a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet helps reduce the negative impacts of industrial animal production, such as excessive energy use, animal waste pollution, gaseous methane emissions, and animal cruelty (source). There are also many health benefits including lower body mass indices, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown significant differences between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in mortality from cerebrovascular disease, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer (source). Click to learn more about vegetarianism.
Looking for tasty vegetarian cuisine in Frederick County? Check out Veg Frederick for information on vegetarian restaurants and grocery stores.
39. Buy organic, free-range, and/or grass-fed food at least 25% of the time.
Buying organic food lessens the impact of pesticides, fertilizers, and other dangerous chemicals on the environment and the consumer. Different levels of organic certification include “100 percent organic,” “organic,” and “made with organic ingredients.” Foods labeled “100 percent organic” cannot contain any non-organic ingredients. “Organic” foods must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, and foods “made with organic ingredients” must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Click for more information on the benefits of eating organic.
Certified organic meat and dairy products are slightly different than grass-fed and free-range animal products in that “organic” animals may be grain-fed but are also required to have access to pasture. Click to learn more about the requirements for organic animal product certification.
Free-range and grass-fed (in comparison to grain-fed) animal products contain far more essential nutrients, such as omega-3s, which are vital to brain and heart health and have even been shown to reduce risk of cancer, heart attack, depression, attention deficit disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. They also contain more beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), and essential minerals. Click to learn more about the health benefits of free-range and grass-fed animal products.
Purchasing free-range and grass-fed products cuts down on CO2 emissions, pesticide use, and synthetic fertilizer use related to industrial grain production. It also reduces manure run-off, disease in animals and consumers, methane gas emissions from animals, and animal cruelty. Manure from pastured animals can help build healthy soil, improving habitat for soil organisms, insects, and other native animals. In addition, the grasses and plants allowed to grow on a pasture sequester CO2. Click for more information on the environmental benefits of free-range and grass-fed animal products.
40. Buy local food at least 25% of the time.
Supporting local farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), natural food stores, and wineries decreases food transportation costs, boosts the local economy, and provides healthy, fresh food that is often less harmful to the environment than industrial agriculture. For locations and operating hours of Frederick County Farmers Markets, check out Frederick Farm Fresh, the Frederick County Virtual Farmers Market, or the MD Department of Agriculture’s Market Information. You can also sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture program, which provides you with a weekly supply of fresh produce or other farm products from an individual farmer for an entire growing season. Click to find a CSA farm near you.
41. Grow at least 15% of your own produce and/or raise your own animals for food.
Growing your own food is just about as local as food production can get. Not only does it cut down on the fossil fuel consumption and synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use associated with industrial agriculture and food transportation, it also provides you with fresher food, exercise, and a closer connection to the land. Click for more information on food gardening.
Cultivating a perennial polyculture garden is especially beneficial for the environment. Perennial polyculture gardens include a variety of plants that last from year to year and do not need to be replanted. While perennial polyculture requires a larger initial investment of time and money, it pays off with less required labor and expense in subsequent years. It can also increase plant diversity, increase disease and pest resistance in plants, sequester more CO2, filter more rain water, fix more nitrogen, prevent erosion, and build soil. Try growing some edible Maryland natives, such as pawpaw and blueberries, in your garden. For more information, watch this perennial polyculture guidelines video or model perennial polyculture garden video.
Depending on where you live in Frederick County, you may be able to raise your own chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits, or cows. The industrial production of animals can be very harmful to the environment, livestock animals, and consumers (source). You can reap the nutritional benefits of naturally-produced animal products and reduce environmental impacts by raising them yourself. In addition to food, animals can provide pest management, grass trimming, wool, hides, furs, and natural fertilizer. Click for more information on raising your own animals.
Total “Food” Green Points: