Cooking for a Cause: How to Shop in This Age of Climate Change

How to shop more sustainably for food

Climate change is an incredibly important topic, and it can sometimes feel like a daunting challenge to tackle. But taking care of our planet doesn’t have to be so complicated.

Edmund Burke—Irish statesman, author, political theorist and philosopher—is widely quoted for saying: “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little”. And when it comes to sustainability, doing “a little” can actually mean a whole lot. There are plenty of small things we can do to support big changes in the future of agriculture, waste management and climate action.

Buy Local

People buying fresh vegetables and fruits from a local market

Head to your local farms and farmers’ markets to find sustainably sourced fish and produce. Most family-run farms are happy to tell you about their methods, so you can assert whether or not their practices are up to your ethical standards before you buy. Plus, on top of helping out the environment, shopping local also invests money back into the community.

Shop Seasonal

Eating seasonal food is great for various reasons. Produce that is grown out-of-season, for example, requires more resources, which makes its environmental impact quite substantial. And it’s even greater when you consider the oil and gas required to transport food across the country. What’s more, long travel distances can compromise the taste and nutritional value of food.

Use this seasonal food guide to find out what’s best in your area throughout the whole year.

Find Responsibly Raised Fish

Regal Springs sustainable and ethical tilapia farms

When you buy fish from the grocery store, look for sustainable and ethically farmed varieties. Keep an eye out for items certified by reputable organizations like Oceanwise or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council—each organization has their own unique labels, so their products are easy to spot on grocery store shelves. The Regal Springs Tilapia WE CARE program promotes responsible aquaculture, ethical trading and social programs too!

Bring Reusable Bags

Woman using cotton bag at local food market

This includes cloth bags for produce as well as larger grocery bags—keep away from soft, single-use plastic bags and packaging when possible. If you must put something in a bag at the store, head to the bakery and make use of the paper bags that they provide instead. Just remember to recycle them afterwards! Many grocery stores charge a few cents for disposable bags these days, so you’ll be saving yourself money in the long run by sticking to reusable ones. Either way, the Earth will thank you.

Buy in Bulk

Avoid individually wrapped (usually in plastic) items and buy bulk instead. This saves you trips to the store (think: less gas) and avoids unnecessary packaging.

Many zero-waste grocery stores have been popping up recently; these shops require you to bring your own containers, jars and bags to shop from a selection of bulk items. If you have a store like this in your area, be sure to check it out. If not, you can peruse the bulk section in your local grocery store and see what they have to offer.

Buy Blemished Products

Blemished tomatoes

There are far worse things than a bruised apple—it’s not the end of the world! Still, most “imperfect” items are ignored by consumers and end up going to the landfill. In fact, 20 billion pounds of produce are wasted each year. Yikes! By banishing your preconceived notions about food “perfection”, you can actually reduce waste. Think about what you can grow in your garden: it might be a bit misshapen or small, but still tastes amazing.

Old habits die hard, but the planet needs our help. It’s time to get off the bench and start shopping responsibly and ethically. Once you see how easy these things are to implement into your daily life, you’ll be sharing the good word of sustainability with your friends and family.

Fact: Did you know that ethical aquaculture can even help the UN’s sustainable development goals for its 2030 deadline?

Photo Credits: Ilia Baksheev / Shutterstock Inc., Rawpixel / Shutterstock Inc., Regal Springs, maramorosz / Shutterstock Inc., Tamas Panczel – Eross / Shutterstock Inc.