salad from sea kale with egg and green peas

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Sustainable Eating

salad from sea kale with egg and green peas

Many people are looking not just for healthy eating but foods that are sustainable. Aka, foods that are produced with the mindset of not depleting the earth and other natural resources – or better yet, leave the earth better off! The following are several foods to consider if you want to eat sustainably:

Grass fed beef and lamb. These can be the most controversial when speaking about sustainability, but it can be done by rotating livestock with crops. This builds soil carbon that can offset animal emissions. Grass is rich in nutrients which humans can’t digest. So, we eat animals that can!

Oats. Oats are another good sustainable choice if grown without artificial chemicals. They are a good break crop that can be sown in between harvests to replenish the soil. Although they aren’t a nutritional replacement for dairy, they are healthy. They can also replace corn-based breakfasts. Corn is a much less sustainable crop. 

Fruit and vegetables. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are the most sustainable, but even shopping at your local grocer can be sustainable. Try to buy in season. These fruits and veggies will be grown the closest to your area and less resources are used to bring them to market. If you have the circumstances, try to grow your own as much as you can using organic means. You can also choose farmers markets or community gardens.

Bivalves. Mussels and other bivalves like oysters, clams and scallops thrive on microscopic organic matter, including agricultural runoff. So their cultivation transforms waste into delicious food! Wild mussel fisheries create habitats for fish and other small invertebrates. 

Legumes. Legumes like beans and lentils are very healthy as well as sustainable. They don’t need fertilizer like other plants. Their root nodules contain bacteria that converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. The nodules also increase organic matter within the soil by feeding microbial life which after it dies ensures the carbon stays locked in. 

Seaweed. This is definitely a superfood that is super sustainable. Seaweed can reduce the acidification of the ocean which enables sea life to flourish. You can also grow seaweed in areas where there is agricultural runoff converting these pollutants into nutrients. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago