Managing Diabetes Magazine - diabetes
Going Green in the Kitchen
Simple ways to save the environment
Although it took a few decades, the environment is finally a hot topic with Canadians. ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ has become a familiar refrain. Even the food we eat is of concern. Food is one of the world’s largest and most essential commodities. The way it is grown, harvested and transported has a huge effect on our environment. Daily choices we make around food can be part of the solution.
Over the past few years, much thought has been devoted to how diet affects both people and the planet. In 2005, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon began a yearlong experiment in eating locally, creating a movement and a book called The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. They only ate food, ingredients and spices from within a 100-mile radius of their city.
The 2004 documentary Super Size Me followed Morgan Spurlock over thirty days, as he ate only food from McDonald's. His physical and mental wellbeing were both dramatically affected. Spurlock’s film comments on the fast food industry, suggesting nutrition is often sacrificed for profit. Both projects explore how radically food choices affect the environment and our bodies. As a result, many of us have been inspired to change the way we eat.
If you have diabetes, you already know about the benefits of nutritious food. In making wise choices around food, you save your own health and that of the planet. However, vowing never to eat fast food or to eat only healthy foods may not be realistic. Even making simple changes to your daily habits can make a big difference.
Easy ways to be green
- Buy local food.You don’t have to begin with the 100 Mile Diet. Start small. Buy produce from a farmer’s market or find a farmer who sells beef, pork or fish. Check online or in your yellow pages for a market close to you.
- BYOB –bring your own bag. More and more plastic is ending up in our oceans and affecting our planet. Switching to paper is not the answer either. Instead, use durable, reusable cloth bags whenever possible.
- Use less packaging. Choose foods that have less packaging. Do you really need individually packaged yogurt? Instead, portion yogurt into smaller reusable containers. To reduce packaging even more, introduce yourself to the bulk bin.
- Grow your own. Vegetables taste great and fit into your meal plan any time. Even pots or a tiny patch of garden space can allow you to grow your own food. Try planting a few lettuce seeds each week. You will have a summer supply of fresh lettuce.
- Eat your leftovers. Throwing away food is wasteful. Leftovers can be a huge time saver for busy people. Make big batches to freeze or have later in the week.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances. Appliances can use as much as 14 per cent of the total energy consumption in your home. Look for the EnerGuide rating when buying appliances. Avoid wasteful models and products and select efficient alternatives. You can save yourself thousands of dollars in energy costs.
- Compost your scraps. Reduce the amount of garbage you create. Coffee grounds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable scraps can all be turned into valuable fertilizer for your yard. Check at your local hardware or garden centre for composting systems. Many communities have advice on preferred composting methods.
- Eat more legumes. Eating more low-glycemic dried peas, beans and lentils is good for the environment and your blood glucose. Canada is the leading exporter of some pulse crops, yet we often fail to appreciate the benefits of these foods.
- Dispose appropriately. Use a sharps container to dispose of sharps – don’t let dangerous waste end up in the landfill. If you have an old glucose meter around, contact the company who made it. They may be able to reuse the meter in a developing country or advise on how to dispose of it properly.
Small changes can make a big difference on your environmental impact. Be realistic. Start by making simple changes. It is surprising how easily going green becomes part of your routine.
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [DI_MDb09]