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Eating for Climate (While Still Eating Well and Often!)

March 21 2022

Eating for Climate (While Still Eating Well and Often!)

Eating for Climate (While Still Eating Well and Often!)

Have you heard of harm reduction framework? In case you haven't, it's generally an approach to meeting people where they are, usually in the context of addiction, where people are oftentimes denied the support they need short of complete abstinence.

Our sustainability POV at Goldune is quite similar. We think there's a lot of power in a bunch of people showing up to do little things as they are now instead of waiting for a few people to magically become environmentally perfect. 

Food’s a great place to start taking smaller steps in a sustainable direction– and another place where “all or nothing” ideas get thrown around a lot. Cutting out animal products and growing vegetables from your compost in your solar powered kitchen is obviously great for the planet, but not totally realistic for a lot of people. (Suggesting that everyone “should” eat one exact same diet also rubs us the wrong way– there are so many factors at play in how you eat and how you live your life, and a one size fits all approach to pretty much anything can be culturally-insensitive at best.) 

Our POV? The conversation around a climatarian diet would be so much more productive if we took the harm reduction lens and thought about what incremental changes or switches you’d feel comfortable making or trying in your own life. Interested in a vegan diet but feel like you could never give up cheese? That’s ok– don’t! Being mostly-vegan still makes a hell of an impact, even if you dig into your favorite queso fundido once in a while.

Can’t stomach your coffee black but want to reduce your dairy consumption? That daily cup of joe is a great place to start– plant milks can require 60% less energy and 80% less land usage than cow’s milk., and there have never been more options (We’re partial to Joi’s compostable oat milk and Willa’s zero-waste chocolate oat milk for a fancy coffee treat.)

Another great place to start, even if full throttle climatarian isn’t for you? Shopping local, whether it be a farmer’s market or an independent grocery store that sources from nearby areas, can reduce a food’s carbon footprint by 7%, as well as significantly reduce your “food miles.” 

Whether you’re super into coffee culture or have been pounding your tried and true same bag of beans for years, the kind of coffee you’re drinking makes a difference. Coffee beans have the highest carbon footprint per kilogram behind meat and dairy, which means a simple swap could make a difference. One study showed a single espresso sourced from conventionally grown coffee beans has an average carbon footprint of .28 kg. In comparison, an espresso sourced from sustainable beans has a carbon footprint of as little as .006 kg. Taste testing some climate-friendly beans and brews to find your new favorite is well-worth it (and honestly, kind of fun too!).

One of the best ways to be climate friendly in the ways you eat at home is to buy some of the uglier produce on the shelf (or through a service like Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market). 40% percent of food waste comes from one supply chain process—grocery stores rejecting the product for purely cosmetic purposes. If we ate more of the uglier, misshapen, quirky stuff, we could lessen the 52 billion lbs of food waste from grocery stores and restaurants ending up in landfills each year. No access to ugly produce? Sometimes it’s just as simple as eating what you buy. The average household throws out nearly ⅓ of the food they buy, so chowing down on those remaining goodies in the fridge before heading to your next grocery run will make a difference. 

If you love oysters, keep slurping them down! Sustainably grown bivalve farms act as a natural water filtration system. They can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, removing pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus. As the oysters grow, they build rock-like reefs that attract more of a variety of species of fish and shellfish, contributing to a healthier ecosystem. Pretty cool! 

As usual, we would love to hear from you if you’ve got clever ideas for folks to eat more sustainably. Sound off in the comments below or email us at hi@goldune.com.

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