' The Eco-Conscious Shopper's Guide to Food Shopping – White Leaf Provisions

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The Eco-Conscious Shopper's Guide to Food Shopping

Biodynamic Food

Have you noticed in the past few years there has been a large shift in how we think about food? This trend, in many ways, began as Millennials started earning paychecks and participating in the economy. Their desire to know more about what’s in their food and its environmental impact began permeating the consciences of other shoppers. Now, more than ever, people want to know what’s in our food and the environmental impact our food chain is having on the environment.

Whether you’re new to the idea of understanding eco-conscious shopping beyond organic foods or are avidly trying to reduce your carbon footprint as you shop, we’ve compiled a guide to food shopping to help everyone understand ways in which they can help the earth as they shop. 

When you choose to buy organic and biodynamic foods, you are opting into foods whose production did not involve harmful chemicals that leach into the soil, ground water, and runoff, further harming the environment and the farm’s surrounding ecosystem. In purely economic terms, you signal to the market that you like these products and you want more, which is great for local farmers who adopt these practices. 

Buying pesticide-free produce can also mean you waste less water on washing your produce as you would with conventional produce.

Buy Local

Shop Local

Shop local refers to a couple of things. The first is the idea that you’re shopping for products that are grown and produced near your city. The second is that you’re shopping at a store near your home.

Shopping local in both senses of the word brings the idea that carbon emissions are reduced on both ends of the supply chain. Buying local means the fresh produce and products had less distance to travel, therefore less fuel was used. Also, buying local produce tastes much better because it was picked closer to full ripeness versus other produce that’s shipped from across the country. 

When you shop at your local store, preferably at a grocer who cares about their own carbon footprint, you will emit less carbon traveling that shorter distance. Bonus points if you bike or walk to your local store!

Buy Organic

Buy Organic and Biodynamic

Many people see the biodynamic movement as the next evolution in organic farming, but there are some key differences to keep in mind. The organic standard focuses primarily on not using chemically toxic pesticides and fertilizers on crops while biodynamic takes that one step farther and focuses on adding nutrients back into the land so future crops can use it.

When you choose to buy organic and biodynamic foods, you are opting into foods whose production did not involve harmful chemicals that leach into the soil, ground water, and runoff, further harming the environment and the farm’s surrounding ecosystem. In purely economic terms, you signal to the market that you like these products and you want more, which is great for local farmers who adopt these practices. 

Buying pesticide-free produce can also mean you waste less water on washing your produce as you would with conventional produce.

Recycle and Reuse

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Plastic

It’s estimated that between 4.8 to 12.7 million metric TONS of plastic ended up in the ocean in 2010 (a number which has only increased since then), which ends up in our sea-born food supply. In 2014, an estimated 33.3 million tons of plastic ended up as municipal solid waste (MSW) in landfills, of which only 3.1 million tons were recycled.

Some of the easiest ways to reduce your plastic consumption are opting for items with little plastic packaging; use reusable cloth grocery and produce bags; and buying in bulk, especially from dry goods sections like in Whole Foods.

Inevitably, you will need to buy items with plastic packaging, so knowing how to reuse and recycle plastics will help you be a bit eco-friendlier. Plastic jugs can be upcycled for makeshift herb gardens while individual serving cups are great for starting seeds. There are also plenty of crafts you can use plastic containers for, like painting yogurt containers and using them as pen caddies.

Of course, there are some plastic items you won’t want to keep around so you’ll recycle them. Check with your local recycling center to see which items they will accept. If they don’t accept certain items, you can usually find other businesses that will recycle those items for you.

Shop Smart

There are a few key mindsets to adopt when you shop smart. The first is asking yourself “do I need this”? Asking yourself this question and whether you will use the item in a timely manner will help mitigate food spoiling in your fridge. Thinking this way will help reduce the 38 million tons of food waste produced by Americans in 2014. 

Shopping smart also includes shopping around the outer edges of the store. This is good advice not only if you’re looking to adopt a healthier diet but can also help reduce the overall amount of non-decomposable waste that goes into landfills. 

Keep Learning and Be Green

Keep Learning

New ways to be eco-conscious are appearing each day. To learn more about shopping green and biodynamic foods, check out more posts on White Leaf Provisions’ blog.


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