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Sustainable eating is a win-win

A woman at a farmers market stall.

June 15, 2021—Did you know there's a way to enjoy nutritious food while supporting the environment, farm workers, animals and the local economy? It's called sustainable eating. And it's about making choices that are good for you and the rest of the world.

Looking for ways to start? Here are a few suggestions from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other experts.

Go local. Choosing food produced closer to home means less fuel is used to get it from the farm to your table. That helps the environment and gives you fresher, healthier meals.

Shop the seasons. Buying in-season food usually means it comes from closer to home too. Learn what grows seasonally near you and plan your meals around those ingredients.

Save water. A few ways to conserve this precious resource: Scrape your plates clean instead of running them under the tap. Handwash dishes in a basin, instead of under running water. Or only run the dishwasher when it's fully loaded. You can also thaw foods in the refrigerator overnight instead of using running hot water. Bonus: That's also the safest way to thaw them.

Take a "less is more" approach to packaging. Buy in bulk when you can. When you can't, opt for bigger packages and servings that aren't individually wrapped. Or choose packaging that you can recycle or put to another use.

Go for more plant-based meals. Not only is this a healthy way to eat, but plant-based foods tend to have less packaging than highly processed foods. And going meatless, even sometimes, can help reduce your carbon footprint.

Use your green thumb. Create a kitchen garden in small pots on your windowsill or grow them in containers or a small plot out back. Herbs, tomatoes, peppers and other edibles are easy to nurture and make a fresh addition to your meals.

Reduce food waste. Americans waste a lot of food every year. But there are lots of ways to be more mindful. For instance, make a meal plan and shop only for what you'll use in the next few days. Use leftovers for lunch or the next night's dinner. And stock your pantry with the oldest items in front so they get used before they expire.

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