Health and Fitness
April 22, 2008
Five Ways to Go Green with Your Food Choices
Five years ago, Dr. Preston Maring founded the first Kaiser Permanente farmers' market at Oakland Medical Center. The market was embraced by the community and now, Kaiser Permanente has 30 farmers' markets in six states.
Dr. Maring started a movement that is flourishing across Kaiser Permanente, where health experts recommend adding more produce to the plate to boost vitamins, increase fiber and improve overall nutrition. “Every time we eat food we can choose healthy options for ourselves and our environment,” said Sue Heikkinen, a Registered Dietician and nutritionist in Kaiser Permanente's Colorado region.
Heikkenen suggests the following Five Ways to Go Green with your shopping habits and food choices:
Track Food Miles
"Foods that travel farther lead to more fuel usage, and possibly, more carbon dioxide emissions," said Heikkinen. "Additionally, transported food loses nutritional value over time." Research the package or ask your grocer where a product comes from to measure its mileage. Try buying produce, meats, and fish that have a smaller carbon footprint.
"Whenever possible, buy locally grown products," suggests Heikkinen. "Your food will be fresher and won't require as much energy to store and pollution to transport. You'll also support local farmers, many of whom are committed to sustainable agricultural practices." Tip: Plant your own garden and make your carbon footprint only a step away!
Buy in Season
"When it comes to produce, we've been spoiled with a permanent dietary summertime and it's hard to know what's in season," noted Heikkenen. "Price is your guide." Tip: Develop and share a recipe collection built around seasonal produce. Ask restaurants for their seasonal menu options.
"Check out www.foodnews.org to find a list of products most vulnerable to higher pesticide residue," said Heinneken. "Ideally we would buy everything local, but for some foods it may make more sense to buy organic, pesticide free varieties even if they're coming from father away." Tip: Go Green Tip: Start a green cooking club and organize a field trip to a farmers market or organic farm to learn more about your local low-mile options.
Know What's Fishy
Farm raised salmon, or Alaskan wild-caught? (the answer is the latter!) "Fish presents a conundrum: its health benefits are numerous, but there are environmental factors to consider," said Heikkenen. She recommends reading up on good and bad fish choices at www.seafoodwatch.org before you tackle your next grocery list. Tip: Press your store to stock fish from sustainable fisheries.