How to Go Green and Eat Healthy
Mind the Packaging
One of best things we can do for our planet is to reduce our waste, says Sara Snow, TV host and author of Sara Snow's Fresh Living. Single-serving items may be convenient, but they often come in BPA-laden plastic and cost two to three times as much per serving — and generate lots of extra trash, says Madeleine Somerville, author of All You Need Is Less. When it comes to the container, Sara advises seeking out aseptic packaging (like Tetra Pak), which requires less energy to produce, is lighter and is easy to recycle.
Buy Local (and How to Know If It’s Actually Local)
Help small, local farms survive (something crucial to the survival of our ecosystem, according to Sara) by supporting them with dollars. But watch out for localwashing. When food is authentically local, it should show on the label where it has been produced, explains eco-blogger Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff of MommyGreenest.com. By supporting local food producers (or even growing your own), you also minimize pollution and nutrient loss from produce picked and transported before it was ripe, adds Madeleine.
Get Out of the Grocery Store Sometimes
Healthy options that are grown organically (whether they are certified or not) typically cost less at the farmers market because you're cutting out the middle man, says Sara. “And with fewer options, you may end up spending less money overall on wasteful impulse buys.”
Grassfed Is Good!
You probably already know about choosing organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen” (apples, celery, and bell peppers currently top the list). But many of the experts we spoke to also emphasized the importance of buying grassfed, USDA-organic meat and dairy. “Not only will you avoid antibiotics, hormones and GMOs, but studies show that grassfed is also higher in healthy Omega-3 fats and vitamins — and lower in saturated fat,” says Rachel.
Natural and Hormone-Free Not So Much
“Natural” can mean pretty much anything and isn’t regulated by the FDA, explains Alexandra Zissu, author of Planet Home and The Conscious Kitchen. Other meaningless labels according to green living expert Amy Todisco: “hormone-free” and “antibiotic free,” as the Consumer’s Union says there’s no verification system in place.
Shopping for Seafood? Use This Shortcut
Don’t feel bad if you can’t keep the sustainable seafood rules straight. “I don’t shop without the Seafood Watch pocket guide — which is updated regularly by the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium — on my phone or in my wallet,” says Rachel. In a hurry? Look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label, advises Alexandra.