Green Twist on 10 Healthy Eating New Year’s Resolutions

A healthy lifestyle requires a healthy Earth.

If you are contemplating a 2018 New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, consider doing it in an environmentally friendly way that helps Earth be healthier, too.

The top New Year’s resolutions usually fall into three categories: health, money, or time. In the health category, popular resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, and living a healthier lifestyle. I believe healthy eating is the foundation for those three goals. First, no matter what advertisers tell you, you will not lose weight unless you eat healthy, too. Second, eating healthy will give you the energy you need to exercise and lastly, a healthy lifestyle includes healthy eating.

In this post, you can explore ten potential healthy eating New Year’s resolutions that are also good for the planet.

10 Planet Friendly Healthy Eating New Year’s Resolutions

These New Year’s resolution suggestions are about actions not specific food and beverage recommendations. Some may seem weird to you, but I hope you will find a least one that makes you think, “Yes, I can and want to do that.”

Abstain from Aluminum

No substance that you need for healthy eating comes in an aluminum can.

Aluminum is a valuable material that has an enormous environmental footprint. You can read about the process of making aluminum and the environmental issues associated with it in the post, Aluminum Beverage Cans – Environmental Impact. It is incredibly wasteful to use aluminum to make a can that you open, drink the contents, and then get rid of, even if you recycle the can, which most people do not do.

New Year’s Resolution: Stop buying anything that comes in aluminum cans, forever.

Composting Can Change Your Choices

You can make good use of the peels and rinds from all the fresh fruits and vegetables you will be consuming as part of your quest to eat healthier.

Instead of tossing produce scraps in your trash or grinding them up in your garbage disposal, consider composting them to create a nutritious treat for the soil in your yard or your neighbor’s.

The act of putting a spoiled potato or banana in your compost pail could change the way you shop for produce and reduce food waste in your household.

If you think composting is something other people should do, read the post, Composting Made Easy – Tips from an Unlikely Composter (that is I) and then see if you are willing to try it.

New Year’s Resolution: Set up a composting bin in your yard or on your patio and put all your fruit and vegetable scraps in it.

Do-it-Yourself Dining

Preparing and Cooking a Meal to Eat at HomeTake control of what goes into and stays out of your food by preparing your own meals.

You select the recipes, choose the ingredients, read the package/jar labels, season to your taste, and decide on your own portion sizes. Plus, chances are you do not have unpronounceable additives in your pantry that may improve the shelf life of processed foods but do nothing for your health.

When you dine at home or take your lunch to school or work, you can choose foods with less packaging, eat on reusable tableware, and reduce food waste.

New Year’s Resolution: Make at least one meal a week yourself. If one meal a week is too easy, then up the difficulty of your resolution. For instance, if you usually eat lunch out during the workweek; bring your own lunch at least three days a week.

Find it at the Farmer’s Market

Imagine buying a head of lettuce or a peach picked at the peak of ripeness and deliciousness the day before you buy it. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the star attractions at the over 8,600 farmers markets in the United States, which makes it easy for you to choose healthy food.

When you buy food directly from the people who grow and produce it, you are saving energy, water, fuel, waste, and supporting farmers in your own community. If you are worried that shopping at the farmers market might be too expensive or time-consuming, read the post 5 Reasons to Shop at the Farmers Market and then decide if you want to give it a whirl.

New Year’s Resolution: At least once a month, shop at a farmers market near where you live or work. Depending on the climate, farmers markets may operate year round or only in warmer months.

Healthy Hydration Habit

You probably already know that drinking water is important to your health. Keeping water within your reach at all times, in a glass or reusable bottle, makes staying hydrated easier and almost automatic.

In most areas in the United States, tap water is inexpensive and safe to drink. If you do not like the “taste” of your tap water, use a filtering pitcher or install an osmosis system. Before you dash out to the store to stock up on cases of bottled water, please consider its environmental and social implications.

New Year’s Resolution: Stay hydrated without buying water in a disposable container (a recyclable container is still disposable).

Look for Local

The next time you are shopping for groceries, make a point of looking for and buying produce grown locally.

Grocery Market Locally Grown Produce SectionThis makes it easy for you to select fruits and vegetables that are in season, freshly picked and did not travel on an airplane in route to your market. Local meat, eggs, dairy, bread, and processed foods (like spaghetti sauce) are also good choices.

If you cannot find locally sourced produce at your regular grocery store, try shopping at a co-op, natural food store, or family-owned market.

New Year’s Resolution: Once a month, buy only fruits and vegetables that were grown locally or switch from a national brand of a packaged food to a locally or regionally made product.

Make Some Meals Meatless

I think most people know that eating vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, and whole grains are part of a healthy eating plan, yet Americans do not seem to eat enough of these foods. One simple (but not necessarily easy) way to eat more plants is to devote less space on your plate to meat or to push it completely off the plate. This does not mean you have to start eating tofu or kale, unless you want to, which I do not.

Nowadays, most Americans are far removed from where our food comes from so you may not realize that eating meat has a ginormous and far-reaching environmental impact. Out of the ten suggested resolutions in this post, eating less meat is probably the best thing you can do for your own health and Earth’s.

New Year’s Resolution: At least once a week, for one meal, fill your plate with plants and no meat.

Opt for Organic

For most of human history, farmers grew food organically meaning without pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or sewage sludge and they did not need to wear hazmat suits at work.

Nowadays, thanks to organic food fans demanding and buying organic food for several decades, it is now widely available and reasonably affordable. Farmers markets, co-ops, and CSA shares are good sources of organic food and even national grocery market chains and big box stores are stocking at least some organic food, especially produce.

New Year’s Resolution: Switch to buying the organic version of one type of fruit, vegetable or other food product each month of the year.

Sign Up for a CSA Share

Envision yourself picking up or having delivered to you a box of freshly picked seasonal produce each week during the growing season where you live.

Fresh winter produce from weekly CSA share.If this appeals to you, then consider signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share from a local farm in your area. Some CSAs will include fish, dairy, meat, or other local food products.

New Year’s Resolution: Locate a local farm that has a CSA program and then sign up for one year.

Ugly is Undervalued

American farmers do not even harvest over 10 million tons of food a year because it does not meet USDA voluntary standards for size, shape, and color, which wastes all the energy, water, and people power that went into growing it.

The fledgling ugly food movement is trying to change our perception of what constitutes edible food. This could lead to more food being harvested and made available to feed more people.

New Year’s Resolution: Join the ugly food movement. At least once a month, make a point of seeking out and buying weird and ugly looking produce like three-legged carrots or weirdly shaped apples.

I hope this post gave you some ideas about how you can put a green twist on your healthy eating New Year’s resolution for 2018. You can learn how to make a specific and measurable resolution and get tips on healthy eating by reading the posts New Year’s Resolution – Make it SMARTER and The Secret to Making Healthy Eating Easy.

What is my New Year’s resolution for this year? I am pondering a resolution involving sugar, something along the lines of learning about the environmental impact of the sugar industry or trying to figure out what constitutes a reasonable daily amount of sugar and then eating only that amount. Clearly, this is too broad and undefined for a New Year’s resolution so perhaps I need to reread the SMARTER post myself.

Happy New Year!

Featured Image at Top: Healthy Eating Vegetable Stir-Fry Dish – Photo Credit iStock/Mizina

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5 Reasons to Try Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

When we signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) winter share last November, we expected it to be delicious. Who knew it would be so much fun?

Week 5 CSA Winter Share ProduceIt all started when we visited the Los Osos Valley Organic Farm during a Central Coast Bioneers organic farm tour in October 2012 and became interested in purchasing a winter season share.

CSA – Sign Up

On the farm’s website, I was happy to learn home delivery was available for a small fee. A link took me to a subscription website powered by Farmigo (a cloud-based CSA management system). I registered for an account and opted for a weekly share.

CSA – How it Works

The farm uses a 2 bag system. The first week’s share was delivered in an insulated bag with our name and address. The next week we placed our cleaned out empty bag on our porch and it was switched out for a new bag with week two’s share, and so on.

Week 1 – A New Experience

CSA Insulated Delivery BagI met Anka as she was walking up our very steep driveway and she handed off our first delivery. I was on my own at home that week, and have virtually no mechanical skills, so the first issue I was faced with was how to open the bag. After puzzling over it for a few minutes I figured it out was able to open the bag without destroying it in the process.

After laughing and being grateful no one saw me struggling with the bag, I donned my rubber gloves. I’m squeamish, and the produce was organic and straight from the farmer’s fields, so I expected some dirt and a stray bug or two, thus the rubber gloves. I removed the items from the bag and arranged them on the kitchen counter. The first week’s bag contained:

  • Week 1 CSA Winter Share ProduceSpaghetti Squash
  • Green Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Jalapeño Peppers
  • Lettuces
  • Beets
  • Broccoli Rabe

After taking a photo with my smartphone, I rinsed and washed everything—there was very little dirt and a tiny living thing or two but nothing I couldn’t handle. I put the perishables in the fridge and contemplated what to make for dinner.

The spaghetti squash and jalapeño peppers were set aside for my spouse. I decided to try roasting beets for the first time, with tasty results. Throughout the week, I enjoyed salads with the radishes, spinach, and lettuce. I’d never prepared broccoli rabe so sautéed it in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon—it was delicious.

Following Weeks – Fun and Delicious

Week 3 CSA Winter Share ProduceEach week we had fun discovering what was in the bag. My spouse was elated with the chard, kale, and collard greens. Other items included butternut squash, onion, pumpkin, leeks, cauliflower, pak choi, broccoli, and an herb-like plant I never did identify. My spouse enjoyed the challenge of devising new recipes (especially to get me to eat more greens, I like soup).

We just signed up for the spring share and I am looking forward to seeing what is in the bag for spring.

5 Reasons to Try Community Supported Agriculture

A variety of CSA programs are widely available across the U.S. so there is sure to be one that meets your needs. Below are 5 reasons to try Community Supported Agriculture:

  1. Fun – it is fun to eat fruits and vegetables you may not have bought at the grocery market for a long time or in some cases ever. Those who enjoy coming up with recipes will have a constant stream of ingredients to try out. For those that don’t, many CSA’s provide recipe ideas and there is always the Internet or cookbooks.
  2. Healthy – eating a variety of fresh seasonal produce is good for you. Many CSA farms are organic which ups the healthy factor for you and the planet.
  3. Carbon Footprint – CSA farms are local so the amount of energy involved in transporting it is low compared to products that travel 1,000 miles or more to the store and then from the store to your home.
  4. Cost – in many cases CSA produce is comparable in price to what you would pay at a grocery market.
  5. Local – supporting local farmers keeps your money in your community.

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