When I was just starting to tint my life green, I knew some of it would have to involve how I bought food and what food I bought. I knew eating organic was the obvious way to eat greener, but I struggled to figure out how to do it without having access to a year-round farmers market or farm stand. Heck, the closest Whole Foods was a 30 minute drive away! #suburbproblems
Instead of giving up, I embraced my limits. My version of an eco-friendly life was never going to look like Instagram, but that didn’t have to stop me from living consciously.
Today we’re talking about four ways to tint our grocery shopping green, regardless of where we live or shop!
I know! I know! I’ve said this before…like a lot. But this is something we can all do regardless of whether we get our groceries at the local farm stand, the weekly farmer’s market or a big store like Safeway or Raley’s. From reusable produce bags to totes, this is just the easiest place to start and can really diminish how much waste we produce. Buying something from the deli counter or butcher? Bring your own container. I know old Tupperware or Ziploc containers aren’t what I think of when I think “reusable” but they totally are.
We can always start with what we have. There’s no need to buy a thousand glass jars or stainless steel containers just for the aesthetic or because that’s what’s popular on the internet. Just make sure they get weighed while they’re empty so you only pay for what you’re buying.
2. BUY UNPACKAGED FIRST
This applies to more than produce, though that’s a great place to start! But what about the rice, pasta, quinoa, or granola we buy? I was chatting with Brandon (my husband) the other day and asked him if he could remember the last time we bought packaged rice…he couldn’t. And neither could I! That’s how easy of a change it was to make! The best part? Big, mainstream stores like Safeway and Raley’s have been expanding their bulk offerings. So even if you don’t have a Whole Foods or a co-op around you, there’s still a way to shop with less packaging.
3. OPT FOR LOCAL/ORGANIC
Local produce has a smaller transportation footprint. Plus if it’s local, it’s more than likely seasonal to your area.
This is where I still struggle a little bit. On one hand, I really want to eat seasonally. I want to support my local farmers and not rely on produce from another hemisphere. Plus I’ve never eaten seasonally before and – in my head, at least – doing it would be a fun challenge (read: it would force me to try vegetables I’ve never eaten before).
The dream is to buy local, organic produce all the time, always.
But local doesn’t always mean organic. So we hit a crossroad.
Do we prioritize organic food or local food?
There are good and less-good aspects to each, so it’ll honestly come down to preference. Local produce won’t get shipped to us from all over the world, but pesticides will have been used to grow it. Organic produce doesn’t have the pesticides problem, but the carbon footprint of shipping and importing that produce might be a turn off.
I can’t forget to mention that organic produce is typically more expensive, especially if we’re shopping at Safeway or Raley’s.
If something's on the Dirty Dozen list, then I buy it organic or not at all. Items like strawberries, apples, and celery are in the top 5 of the list, meaning they have the most pesticide residue. I’ll gladly spend a little more money on that produce to avoid the pesticides.
The Clean 15 is the opposite side of this imaginary coin. Items on this list carry the least amount of pesticide residue, so I feel fine buying the non-organic options. Things like avocados, onions, and asparagus rank well on the Clean 15 list, so I get to save a little money when I buy those.
I hope this post is helpful and inspires you to start somewhere! Would it be great if we all lived near co-ops and organic farmer's markets? Yes, but our reality doesn't have to stop us from working with what we've got and making the best choices we can!
How do you tint your grocery shopping green?
Sound off in the comments!