How you can eat more sustainably

2019-06-11 04:41:40

EAT, a global, non profit foundation established to bring about sustainable food systems tells us that to be sustainable by 2050 there needs to be a substantial shift in the way we eat and the way we use our land for food production.

This shift will be good for our planet and our health. Our consumption of fruits and vegetables, nut and legumes needs to double and consumption of red meat and sugar needs to greatly reduce.

A big ask but like all big things they are achieved by taking the first small steps.

Some small steps are:

* Eat more whole foods and less packaged foods.

* Fruits and vegetables come with minimal packaging and plastics. Processed foods such as chippies, biscuits, and commercial snack foods come with lots of packaging that our environment doesn't need. These packaged food are very high in salt and sugar with low overall nutritional value. Our bodies don't need these foods either.

* Drink fresh water from the tap.

* New Zealand generally has good quality tap water. Fill your drink bottles up with free accessible water. We don't need more plastic bottles in our environment let alone all the rubbish sugary beverages create. Once again, our bodies and our environment will benefit.

* Eat less processed and takeaway meals.

* A lot of energy is used producing processed food. If we prepare more foods from scratch at home once again we save the planet from the waste and our bodies from eating all the salt and fat which invariably are a part of processed and takeaway food.

* Mainly eat plant foods. This encourages us to eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Choose whole grains such as brown rice, barley, quinoa and oatmeal rather than processed or refined white breads and sweet breakfast cereals that have very little fibre content and are often high in salt or added sugar.

Legumes are soy and other beans like lentils, split peas and chick peas. They have protein, fibre and only a little fat

* Eat less meat. By 2050 the recommended serving size of meat will be about 30g, and only on some days of the week. This is equivalent to a few thin slices in a stir fry. Less meat means less land, energy and water resources are used to produce the world's food.

Create zero waste

We need to purchase less and use up our leftovers so that households aren't throwing out food. For example, A lot of households throw out the ends of the loaves or crusts which is wasteful. In NZ we throw out 29 million loaves of bread a year. If you factor this in with other food wastage, the amount of food we throw out each year in NZ would be enough to feed a city the size of Dunedin for three years.

Leftovers make up a large contribution to what goes into the land fill. We need to regularly take our leftovers from dinner to work for lunch. Think of the money we would save.

A third of the food we waste is vegetables. We buy too much at once and don't store them correctly. Dry dark cupboard for root vegetables and the bottom of the fridge for all others. Store bananas away from other fruit so they don't ripen as fast. If they are too ripe freeze them to be used in baking or smoothies.

The year 2050 will be here before we know it and we need to be handing on a healthy planet. Achieving that requires us all taking small steps now.


Lemon, cashew and parsley dip

( a good alternative to the Kiwi dip of packet onion soup and tinned reduced cream)


80g roasted unsalted cashews

100ml olive oil

2 large handfuls of fresh parsley leaves

1 medium garlic clove

1 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp salt

1/4tsp ground black pepper


Blend all the ingredients together and serve in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil on top . Serve with plenty of fresh, raw vegetable sticks eg cucumber, celery, carrot, snap peas, capsicum, blanched beans etc Whatever is in season.

Recipe adapted from

One Pot Mixed Spiced Vegetable Quinoa

Serves 8 ( a great meatless meal)


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

¼ cup red onion diced

1 ½ cups quinoa – uncooked, rinsed in cold water and drained

1 jalapeno minced

1 cup capsicum 9 red, green or red

1 cup zucchini, diced

1 cup black beans canned, drained and rinsed

1 can tomatoes diced with juice

1 cup corn kernels – fresh or frozen

½ tsp chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

½ tsp black pepper

2 ½ cups liquid vegetable or chicken stock (600mls)

2 tablespoons chopped onions (thinly sliced)


Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat

Add garlic and red onion, stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add quinoa, jalapeno, capsicum, zucchini, black beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, salt and stock. Stir together.

Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is cooked and liquid is absorbed about 20-25 minutes. You don't need to stir the quinoa as it is cooking.

Turn off the heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes.

Season with additional salt and pepper as needed, fluff quinoa, and sprinkle with green onions.

Recipe adapted by Jessica Gavin

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