Food production, distribution and consumption has a major impact on the environment. Here is a seven point guide to responsible food shopping.

Sustainable food – the basics

The Sustainable Food Pyramid tells us that the food that is best for us is also the best for the planet. Whilst there are no hard and fast rules here is a seven point guide that will help you make good food choices.

1. Buy fresh food

Fresh food is much healthier for you and for the environment. Processing is likely to add to food miles, energy use and packaging. Processing often adds unhealthy substances too like salt, sugar, fat, colourings and preservatives which are not nutritious. Read more about fresh food»

2. Buy locally grown food

Food miles are the distance food travels from field to plate. Agriculture and food now account for nearly 30% of goods transported on our roads. The best option is to buy from a farmers market, or better still grow your own. Avoid food from overseas. Read more about local food»

3. Buy organic food

Organic farming avoids the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and other inorganic inputs, and thus has a smaller footprint. There is debate about whether organic food is more nutritious but anything less harmful to the environment is good one way or another. Read about organic food»

Doing the right things

4. Buy seasonal food

Out-of-season food is likely to be imported, stored in cold-stores, preserved in unsustainable ways or grown in artificial environments. In any case energy is being expended for a summertime diet. If you buy local, fresh food you probably buying seasonal. Read more about seasonal food here»

Learning self-sufficiency

5. Eat mostly plants

Perhaps the most sustainable choice is to reduce the amount of meat in your diet. Meat has a much larger footprint than vegetables due to the greenhouse gases associated with it. Meat production also requires much more virtual water than vegetables. Read more: Have your meat and eat it too»

6. Grow your own food

Even if you only have access to a deck, a roof or a small courtyard you can grow food. If you have access to the internet or a library can learn enough about soil and gardening to be able to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit and become more sustainable. Read more: Grow your own»

7. Avoid food waste

About 20% of all food purchased is wasted. By avoiding food waste you can save money and help the environment by reducing your ecological footprint.

Learn more about avoiding food waste»