Sustainable Seawolf: Eating sustainably

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

Eating sustainably has become a big topic of conversation in recent years. The New York Times cooking section has included recipes designed for more sustainable food practices, such as their Meatless Monday recipes. With so many big-names pushing for this movement in the restaurant industry, we can also look at where we can make a difference from our own kitchens.

How can college students contribute to the movement on a shoestring budget? Here are four tips that take little time, effort and money to accomplish.

Check where it came from

One of the conversations occurring around sustainability relates to food transportation. It takes a lot of non-renewable energy to get avocados from Mexico to Anchorage, and creates plenty of pollution in the process. Checking the labels and seeing where the food is from can help you purchase foods that have traveled from a shorter distance. Often, price differences between the two products are very small, sometimes nonexistent, and it can make a big impact on the environment.

Reduce food waste

The daily life of a student can be hectic, with schedules constantly in flux. This makes meal planning difficult, and can lead to plenty of wasted food items ending up in landfills. If you find yourself frequently throwing food out, try to see where your greatest weakness is. Do you always buy a bundle of bananas and throw half of them out? Buy smaller bundles more often. Freeze foods that are about to hit their expiration date if you don’t feel that you will consume them in time. You can always defrost them if you change your mind.

Avoid processed meats

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A lot of processed foods contain cheap cuts of meat in them. It can be easy to consume this mindlessly, but livestock farming around the world is taking a toll on the environment. Cutting down on our consumption of these foods will be good for our health and cut down on the amount of livestock farm emissions. Switch to vegetarian options for frozen meals and utilize tofu and seitan products.

Forage with the seasons

Getting out and foraging seasonal foods creates very little transportation waste, and allows people to eat fresh local fruits and veggies for free. Summer in Alaska brings plenty of berries, mushrooms, and greens that can be picked close to home. Check out the Alaska Forage Manual for more information.

Following these ideas can help people make a difference in the sustainable food movement without breaking the bank.