Guest post by Laura Trotta
If you’re green at heart, you’re probably already wise to many of the common environmentally UN-friendly products that fill our supermarkets. But what about all the sneaky ones that no one knows about?
Sustainable eating is all about mindful consumption and taking into account the origin of a food and the resources used throughout its lifecycle. This includes resources such as the water and energy used to produce, store, transport the product to market and dispose of any associated wastes.
In this post Laura from Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs shares six simple swaps so you can make your kitchen pantry more sustainable.
1. Swap Cane Sugar for Honey
Most sugar consumed originates from the sugar cane plant, a water intensive crop grown mainly under monoculture conditions.
Sugar cane has been reported as being responsible for a greater loss of biodiversity than any other crop thanks to the large areas required for cultivation, much of which takes place in ecologically important areas in the tropics.
There are many natural alternatives to cane sugar available (including stevia, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup, rapadura sugar and maple syrup) but the most eco-friendly option is raw honey.
Raw honey tops the list because it’s unprocessed and can generally be sourced locally, significantly reducing those food miles!
2. Swap Himalayan Rock Salt for Murray River Salt Flakes
Himalayan Rock Salt is currently one of the trendiest “health” foods and is popular because of the extra minerals it provides, however it’s a finite resource extracted from a single mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan and travels great distances to market.
Thankfully there’s a more sustainable local option that’s also loaded in natural minerals…… enter pink salt flakes harvested sustainably from Australia’s own Murray-Darling Basin.
Naturally pink like Himalayan Rock Salt (which means it has just as much WOW factor!), Murray River Salt Flakes contain no additives or preservatives and are loaded with natural minerals and elements such as magnesium and calcium. Their extraction also helps to combat the major environmental issue of salinity that exists in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’s original ‘Food Bowl’.
3. Swap Canola and Vegetable Oils for Macadamia Oil
Global demand for cooking oils is growing dramatically with the increasing human population. In order to meet this demand, huge areas of tropical rainforest in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, are being cleared for rapeseed (canola), palm oil and soybean plantations. The majority of these crops are also grown from genetically modified seeds.
A more sustainable, and even healthier, choice is sustainably grown, cold-pressed Australian Macadamia Nut Oil.
Macadamia nuts are not only native to Australia (another low food mile win!), their oil is widely regarded as one of the healthiest edible oils in the world, containing the “good fats” that are important in lowering blood cholesterol.
Macadamia oil can be cooked at very high temperatures (210°C /410°F) and it doesn’t lose any of its subtle nutty taste and important health characteristics (unlike olive oil). It also has the most balanced ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids of any oils and contains a high percentage of Omega-9.
4. Swap White or Black Peppercorns for Tasmanian Pepperberries
Traditional peppercorns are the dried fruit from a flowering vine known as piper nigrum and are grown in tropical regions on the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia.
You can reduce your pepper food miles by switching your traditional peppercorns to Tasmanian Pepperberries (Tasmannia lanceolate or “Mountain Pepper”).
Native to the cool temperate rainforest of south-eastern Australia, dried Tasmanian Pepperberries are high in antioxidants, have a spectacular deep purple colour when ground and have a heat between pepper and chilli but much more complex, almost sweet in both aroma and effect on the palate.
5. Swap Dried Pasta for Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles) or Spaghetti Squash
Zucchini Noodles, aka “Zoodles”, are catching on as a gluten-free pasta option and for good reason as they’re loaded with nutrients and are a great way to increase vegetables in your family’s diet. They’re also free from processing and packaging (as long as you buy your zucchinis loose).
The lesser-known Spaghetti Squash is another healthier and eco-friendly alternative for pasta. You don’t even need a spiralizer for this option as you can easily turn the squash flesh into noodles with a fork!
6. Swap Plastic or Aluminium Coffee Capsules for Biodegradable Coffee Capsules
The birth of the single-serve coffee pod in recent years has revolutionized the morning brew but has skyrocketed household waste.
The obvious advice to eco-fy your coffee would be to use a drip-brew system, but if you already own a capsule machine the next best option is to buy biodegradable coffee capsules rather than the original plastic or aluminium pods. Biodegradable pods break down in around 180 days, compared to up to 200 years (aluminium capsules) and 500 years (plastic capsules)!
What we eat today creates the landscape of the world tomorrow so let’s all make more sustainable food choices to improve our family’s health and reduce our household’s environmental impact.
What are some switches you’ve made in your pantry to make it more sustainable?
Keen to learn more about sustainable eating and how you can choose food that’s good for you and good for our planet?
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About the Author: Laura Trotta, the leading voice on sustainability, is a passionate believer in addressing the small things to achieve big change, and protecting the planet in practical ways.
She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering, a Master of Science (in Environmental Chemistry) and has over 22 years’ experience in the sustainability sector. Laura has won numerous regional and national awards for her fresh and inspiring take on living an ‘ecoceptional’ life and lives with her husband and two sons in Outback South Australia.