Green Grocery Shopping

four trays of varieties of fruits
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Buy organic produce. Pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on crops at conventional farms. These chemicals then leach into the runoff water that eventually collects in nearby surface waters, poisoning the land it encounters and the aquatic environments it accumulates in. These chemicals are meant to harm undesired plants, insects, and animals; however, other organisms, such are bees, are also victimized by these poisons. Why ingesting these chemicals when you’re trying to be healthy by eating fruits and vegetables?

Buy local products. It is true that if you cut meat out of your diet, you will significantly reduce your carbon footprint; however, if you don’t buy locally grown produce, your fruits and vegetables might have a larger carbon footprint than you think. Your potatoes might be from Idaho, your bananas might be from Arizona while your almonds are probably from central California. A lot of gasoline is burned in order to get your food to your grocery store. Buying produce that is grown locally has a lower carbon footprint since it doesn’t have to travel across the country to get to you.

Shop at Farmers’ Markets. Many argue that organic products are more expensive. Unfortunately this can be true, but there is a fix! Farmers’ Markets sell organic produce for cheap prices. The vendors at these markets partake in small-scale farming, so they are more likely to partake in sustainable farming practices, such as crop rotation rather than monocropping. Monocropping is when the same crop is planted year-round in the same soil location. This degrades the quality of the soil by depriving it of important nutrients and causing the soil to retain less water, which results in an increase in runoff. Meanwhile, crop-rotation is when the location of crops is rotated throughout the year. For example, after strawberry season is over, those plants will be removed and replaced with carrots, which require different nutrients than strawberries, thus allowing the nutrients to replenish. Also, Farmers’ Markets are full of free samples and guest entertainers! Make your weekly grocery shopping trips into fun outings by inviting your friends to come along with you. Who can say no to free music and food?

Subscribe to Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) or Imperfect produce boxes. CSA boxes contain organic, local and seasonal produce which can be delivered to your home on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. CSA box subscriptions are great because they save you trips to the grocery shore and they ensure that your produce is both organically and locally grown. Perfectly usable produce that is abnormally shaped is considered “ugly” and never make it to a grocery store, which results in a lot of wasted food. Imperfect produce boxes are just as CSA subscriptions, except you are able to choose exactly what produce you want.

Bring reusable produce bags and grocery bags. When you’re picking out your produce, avoid using those clear, plastic produce bags. You can order reusable, breathable produce bags! Also, leave a stack of reusable bags in your car so you always have them on hand if you go shopping.

Please please please don’t buy water bottles! All you have to do is buy a water pitcher and then you have unlimited access to filtered water. Now you don’t have to worry about lugging that heavy case of water around during your weekly grocery shops.

Make your own meals and snacks. Think about all that plastic waste produced after you eat your frozen dinners, granola bars and bags of chips. Try your best to prepare your own food instead of buying pre-packaged food. It’s healthier for you anyways, since your food will be free of all those yucky preservatives. If you have to buy snacks, get them in bulk rather than individually wrapped servings. Then when you’re making your lunch, you can just pack your portion of for the day in a reusable snack bag.

For eco-friendly food packaging tips, click here.

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