What makes our food choices sustainable? Sustainability is a long-term goal. Modern factory-farm-style American agriculture has produced high crop yields, but at what cost?
Join Chef Michael Cokkinos on Thursday, April 26 at 1PM in Room A734 for answers about Sustainable Cuisine and a delicious tasting and demonstration.
Our choices and those of the retailers and wholesalers we buy from affect the
environment, the economy and everyone’s quality of life. I believe it is important to be aware of and concerned about where our food comes from and the impact it has on all of us.
By eating sustainably we can have a huge impact on the environment. Small farms that produce a wide variety of crops allow for greater biodiversity than do massive monocultures. By buying locally, we lessen the environmental costs associated with the transportation of food — costs such as increased air pollution, the use of fossil fuels, and damage to roadways and the oceans. Refrigeration of food that needs to be transported a long way uses energy and can involve the use of ozone-depleting gases that ultimately affect the whole planet. Excess packaging and processing of our foods also creates a strain on the environment.
Eating a plant based diet has a much lower impact than a high protein, meat diet. When choosing fish and meat know your sources. If it was farmed, was it raised with an appropriate vegetarian diet and according to environmentally sound methods? If wild, where was it caught? How was it caught? Should it be caught, or protected because the species is threatened? Does it have a high by catch percentage that adversely impacts other marine animals? Similarly, we need to ask questions about where our meat comes from and how the animals were raised and slaughtered. Livestock needs to be humanely treated, fed the purest natural feeds (with no animal by products or waste), never given growth hormones or antibiotics, and raised on land cared for as a sustainable resource.
Principles of Food Source Sustainability:
- Celebrate the joys of local, seasonal and artisanal ingredients.
- Understand the source of the ingredients— the way they have been grown, raised or caught.
- Support sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, humane animal husbandry practices and well-managed fisheries.
- Purchase from purveyors whose conservation practices lessen our impact on the environment.
- Choosing sustainable food products is about more than helping the environment. It’s about sustaining the heritage and the economy of whole communities. Respecting local economies, traditions and habitats are important parts of participating in a sustainable food system.
- Cook seasonally; do not buy fruits and vegetables out of season.
- Always buy locally whenever possible and buy directly from the grower or from a source as close as possible to where the product is grown.
- Join a CSA or work with a local farmer who will supply you with seasonal produce of your choosing.
- Support farmers’ markets and farm stands.
- The next time you are in your supermarket talk to the produce manager. Tell the manager of your concern about pesticides and let him or her know you would prefer to buy local or regional produce and certified organic food if possible.
- Ask your grocers and suppliers about the farms where the meat and poultry they sell is raised and how it is raised. If they do not know, ask them to find out. Support grocers and butchers who get their supplies from farmers who do not use factory-farming techniques.
- Ask how the fish you buy is caught, either by using sustainable practices or by practices damaging to the environment, and whether it is wild or farm raised.
- Learn which fish species are endangered from over fishing.
- Read labels; find out what ingredients or additives are in the food you are eating.
- Complete the cycle by composting and recycling.
- Educate yourself about food, understand the issues, and let your legislators know how you feel about food management issues.
To learn much more: join the FIT CULINARY ARTS CLUB.