What is Sustainable Nutrition?
Understanding That What You Eat Impacts Both You and The Environment
Previous generations spent little time considering that their food choices may affect their health and the environment, let alone sustainable nutrition.
With the rise of industrialisation, food companies aimed to find faster ways of mass production to meet the growing needs of the consumer, never stopping to think about the environmental impacts of mass production.
Alongside this, fad dieting did not consider health and wellness implications; instead, perpetuated and glorified the importance of being a size 0. However, a lot has shifted since then, and more people are opting to consider healthier food options.
In addition, growing concern for the environment has meant that we now think before we eat, with sustainable nutrition at the heart of top health and nutrition trends for 2021.
As more people seek sustainable solutions, there is a growing worldwide trend towards consuming less meat (one of the chief contributors to carbon emissions), with the numbers of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians rising significantly in the last 10 years.
Fuelling Your Body Sustainably
Sustainable nutrition means finding balanced ways to fuel your body, giving yourself all the goodness that your body needs while still considering how your consumption affects future generations. Recent times have seen a rise in individuals considering their health and the future when choosing what they eat. As a result, more and more food and beverage companies opt to evaluate their products’ nutritional and environmental impact.
All of earth’s resources are limited, and if we do not make radical shifts in the way we produce and consume food, life may look bleak for future generations. Sustainable nutrition means reducing waste, using environmental packaging, considering the environmental impacts of manufacturing levels, and, at a grassroots level, how consumers are conscious about sustainability in our daily lives.
How Can Food Suppliers Become More Sustainable
Sustainable nutrition all starts with food suppliers because consumers want to understand where their food is coming from and what measures have been taken to ensure that the final product delivered has been ethically and sustainably manufactured. In an ideal world, we should aim to reach a point where all available food is not harming future generations.
3 Things to Look Out for When Researching Companies that Consider Sustainable Nutrition
- Look for a company that is dedicated to an increased focus on sustainable farming and sourcing practices.
- Support companies that use closed-loop supply chains. This means that they will reuse and recycle as many materials as possible to decrease unnecessary waste and limit their impact on landfills.
- Sustainable food brands will consider health and nutrition value in waste streams and develop solutions to feed populations in need. With global hunger rampant, this is a vital way of working to help the global population who do not have access to income for food or these basic resources.
- This all underlines how functional ingredients can play a large part in improving the sustainability of downstream products. For example, reducing sugar with taste modulators enhances the product’s nutrition and reduces the raw materials required for production.
How Can You Practice Sustainable Nutrition?
Do Your Research
Firstly, as mentioned above, it is crucial to know where your food comes from. Research sustainable food suppliers before shopping, and understand all the ingredients in the food that you choose to buy for you and your family.
Less Can Be More
Some products are loaded with unnecessary sugars and preservatives. Unfortunately, too many of these can have a harsh impact on the environment. Instead, opt for natural products. These have a minor environmental impact and are healthy for you too.
We often find ourselves going to the shops once a week and buying large quantities, often ending up throwing away lots of food that has gone off. Instead, only purchase what you need, freeze what you can and cook what is needed. Also, dish up smaller portions as you can always take seconds, instead of throwing away half a plate of perfectly good food.
When going to restaurants, try not to order more than you need and take a reusable container with you to store any leftovers.
Say No to Single-Use Plastic
Most of us have heard the saying, “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”. Unfortunately, single-use plastics are one of the more prominent contributors to polluting the earth, and it is up to us to change how we shop. Opt to take your own bags to the shop, where possible, buy loose fruits and vegetables, and set up a recycling system at home. Every little step you take has a massive impact on your carbon footprint.
Think Before You Indulge
While snacking may be nice, consider cutting down your consumption to the food you need and donating any additional food or income to those who may not have what you do. It is up to us to combat poverty and help ensure that as many people as possible are not going to bed hungry.
Research is still being done to understand the true impact that food systems have on sustainability metrics, we as a global community are heading in the right direction. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals underline the importance of each facet of sustainability. They are committed to fighting hunger in impoverished communities while considering the minimising of food waste in wealthier parts of the globe. So, while there is still work to be done, the future of sustainable nutrition certainly does look bright.
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