As we enter into the second month of a new year it’s easy to slip back into old habits. It’s important though to keep up your commitments to making the planet a safer, cleaner place that future generations can enjoy. This might seem difficult in the day to day especially when it comes to food options. The United States isn’t exactly known for healthy or sustainable fast food options. In fact Americans eat out on average five times per week, adding approximately 135 calories for each meal eaten away from home according to CNN. So what can you do to take your healthy sustainable diet on the road? Here are a few tips:
1. Before opting for fast food, check out the slow food options. Slow food is a movement aiming to support the use of sustainable foods and promote local small businesses. The movement supports local artisans, local farmers, and local flavors through different mediums such as farmers markets and wine and food tasting events. Make an effort to seek out different vendors and your local markets before hitting the drive thru.
2. Take your sustainable meal from home. Packing a lunch ensures that you know not only the source of your meal, but also you can control the portion size, minimizing waste and saving money. Pack your lunch in reusable sustainable packaging to further reduce your carbon footprint. Don’t forget your thermos!
3. If you simply can’t avoid eating fast food, why not opt for a sustainable choice. From Five Guys with its vegan French fries to Le Pain Quotidien with a variety of products made of organic ingredients placed in eco friendly packaging there are a few options on the market. Pandora Bread is also a great option with a menu detailing all ingredients and real dishes and cutlery minimizing packaging waste. Check out a few other sustainable options here.
4. There are many local cafes, restaurants and healthy food shops that offer an alternative to fast food chains. From salad bars to sandwich shops it’s likely you’ll find one organic, natural or sustainable option nearby. You could even try using a mobile application that locates restaurants providing healthy sustainable options such as Clean Plates.
5. If you’ve walked a few blocks and have found no suitable options don’t give up. Try your local market. Many cities have farmers markets throughout the week that offer fresh local fare. Also, your local grocer is likely to have organic sustainable options. If all else fails Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s offer a wide variety of natural and organic food products to appease the palette. While in store if you’re unsure about the products origins try the Harvest Mark app on your mobile that allows you to view information about who grew or manufactured the product and details of the environmental impact.
While creating more sustainable food habits is becoming so popular that even fast food giant McDonalds has recently traded in its mystery fish for certified sustainable wild-caught Alaska pollock, it will be many years before this permeates all levels of the industry. In the meantime we can all do our part to make better food choices. From choosing local artisan foods to using a mobile app to find the nearest sustainable restaurant you can make decisions to minimize your impact on the environment.