Earth Awareness Month: Keeping Food Habits Sustainable

Updated: Jun 26

Written by: Kayla Soriano, Alyssa Farrell, and Katherine Quach

This week, to continue learning and growing our sustainability knowledge, it’s important to understand the ways we can incorporate eco-friendly practice. Implementing organic and sustainable agriculture practices within the everyday lifestyle can benefit your local ecosystem and combat climate change. To get you started, here are some tips to growing your own food and eating sustainably!

Gardening and Small-Scale Farming

One method to eat more sustainably is to grow your own food at any scale - in containers, personal home gardens, community plots, and small-scale farms. Gardens give life to small spaces and they can be easily maintained with proper care too! Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, greens and peppers, as well as herbs such as basil, chives, thyme, and oregano, are fairly simple to take care of in one’s home or backyard. The only materials you need are a pot or bucket with a hole drilled in the bottom, seeds, a form of fertilizer, and potting soil.


Gardening also has many environmental benefits. Compared to the industrial agricultural system, gardening reduces the amount of greenhouse gases expended to fertilize the soil, harvest the produce, and transport the produce to retail food markets. Gardening also requires much less water than large industrial agricultural practices and brings biodiversity to urban and suburban landscapes. By producing your own food, you can ensure what fertilizers and pesticides go into your garden as well. Some organic techniques that can replace synthetic fertilizers on a small-scale include using compost and fish emulsion (fish byproduct) to give nutrients to your plants. Pests can be reduced by planting a variety of produce to bring pollinators and insects that eat pests into your garden, and by planting seeds closer together to decrease space for weeds.


Another great option to eat more sustainably is to buy from local farms, community supported agriculture stands, and local farmers markets. Small-scale agriculture creates plant diversity in mostly paved towns and cities. Likewise, buying from local farmers benefits your local economy, strengthens your community, and supports the livelihood of your local farmers.


Sustainable Food Choices

There are many ways you can shop more sustainably. One option is to incorporate vegetarian and vegan meals throughout the week. Meat (in particular red meat) and dairy industries are one of the largest contributors to climate change. Animal agriculture is responsible for a massive amount of pollution, both on land and water. . To help you kickstart more sustainable food choices, here is a plant-based option idea for your next meal.


Sweet and Tart Tofu with Broccoli and Rice by Willow Tierno and Alyssa Farrell:


For the Sauce:

* equal parts recommended amounts below

  • 3 tbsp Honey

  • 3 tbsp Soy Sauce

  • 3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

The Base:

  • Desired amount of firm or extra firm tofu (follow serving size recommendations on the package)

  • Broccoli (again personal preference, but I usually use ½ of a head to a full head)

  • Cooked rice (follow serving size recommendations or personal preference)

  • Cornstarch if desired

Steps:

  1. Mix the honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and garlic in a small saucepan on low heat. Mix until honey is incorporated. Set aside.

  2. Cook the rice according to instructions on the package.

  3. Cube tofu and marinate in sauce for 30 minutes.

  4. Cut broccoli into small pieces.

  5. Drain excess sauce from tofu and save for later.

  6. You can either air fry or bake the tofu until crispy.

  7. To air fry, set at 425 degrees for roughly 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

  8. To bake, add a light sprinkle of cornstarch and cook at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

  9. While the tofu cooks, cook the broccoli as desired. (tip: Saute it in a pan with a little oil to cook through.)

  10. Add a small amount of cornstarch to the sauce and heat over low heat to thicken the sauce.

  11. Once everything is cooked put the rice, broccoli, and tofu in a bowl and pour the extra sauce on top

  12. Enjoy!

Composting

After your dining experience, what better way is there to continue practicing sustainable habits than to compost scraps or leftovers you won’t eat? On a daily basis, households generate food waste from uneaten leftovers and food scraps, which can be composted into nutrient-rich fertilizer. Unlike landfill decomposition, compost doesn’t release methane into the atmosphere, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating organic matter that can be recycled continuously in the environment. Whether you decide to compost at home or utilize municipal or private composting services, make sure food scraps are sorted properly. For instance, the following objects of organic matter can be composted: eggshells, fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, coffee grounds, and grains. Even some papers can be composted, such as uncoated paper, paper towels, tissues, and shredded newspaper. It’s essential to also do research on the ability to compost meat and dairy in your area, as it can attract pests.


By repeating the process of gardening, sustainably eating, and composting, these habits can help to combat climate change. It all begins with our mindset and making small, sustainable changes to our daily practices.


Share your favorite sustainable practices in the comments below!

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