Isn’t Earth Day simply a reminder that we all need to do more to ensure the preservation of natural resources and care for our world?
If you are looking for a low-impact way of celebrating Earth Day this year, plan a locally sourced vegetarian or vegan meal. Or better yet, make a radical change to the way you eat all year long.
Eat Your Veggies
The eco-friendliest foods available are typically picked straight from the ground or off of a tree, and the closer to home the better.
Movements like Meatless Mondays and Veganary are gaining in popularity as folks are inspired to eat a little differently, trying to make an impact, on every day of the year, not just Earth Day. In our family, we do a pretty even split: 1/3 vegan meals, 1/3 vegetarian, 1/3 meat/poultry dishes. I like this way of eating because it allows for flexibility but also helps me feel like I am reducing the amount of meat we consume (I don’t REALLY need bacon in my pasta, yummy as it is).
Just like with ‘junk food,’ we keep things like beef and bacon for special treats, not an everyday menu item.
Meat and poultry require a vast amount of water and energy to raise and process, but if a vegan diet isn’t for you, try trading out some of your “least efficient” beef or lamb-based meals for a couple of “more efficient” ones with chicken, turkey, or fish.
Not sure where to start with vegan or vegetarian recipes?
Here are some helpful Ontario food bloggers to help you out with your Earth Day feasts:
Buy Local Food for Earth Day
For me, buying local is always going to be the best way to reduce my carbon footprint. If my food has to be air-freighted or hauled across the country, then you know it can’t compete with potatoes and carrots picked 10 KM from my house. To be fair, we do live in the heart of Ontario’s farm country, with one of Canada’s biggest and best farmers’ market in my back yard (ok, maybe I’m biased), so buying and eating local is an easy step our family takes weekly to do our part. But you can too!
Look for the Foodland Ontario signs when shopping at your local grocery store, choose restaurants who you know source locally, and buy seasonally. Asparagus is NOT a year-round staple in Ontario, so savour it this spring and then let the delicious memories carry you through the rest of the year.
Want to get really specific about impact? Eat your lentils.
According to the Environmental Working Group, lentils are the top “climate-friendly” protein, with the lowest score in regards to C02. Chicken, the lowest emitting animal protein, is nearly seven times higher.
Locally grown tomatoes not only have a low-carbon footprint (they rank #2) but they grow deep root systems that absorb moisture from deeper soil, limiting the need for water in hot summer months. Beans, broccoli and nuts all rank high on Environmental Working Group’s top “climate-friendly” list as well. MMM broccoli, my fave!
When it comes to eating local, you can’t get much closer than out your back door, or in our case, out our front door. A $2 packet of seeds keeps us in green beans all summer long and they are SO easy to grow. Our teenager loves doing the planting and the watering (weeding, not so much!) and it gets us outside together all summer long, so that’s a nice added perk.
Even a few herbs, tomatoes and beans in pots on your patio make for easy dinner prep and will pay for themselves, unlike those Gerber daisies and petunias!
No matter how you celebrate Earth Day this year — garbage clean up, neighbourhood festival, dinner by candlelight — we hope your plans include loving local food and maybe switching things up for a day, a week or a month as you try out a vegetarian or vegan diet. If we all do just a little more (or less, as the case may be), it adds up to HUGE impact. Mother Earth will thank us for it.
How will you be celebrating Earth Day ON April 22? Tag us on social media #lovelocalfood to let us know! Join the Love Local Food conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
Gillian Rees is the Editor for Love Local Food, and the Marketing Director for REES + STAGER INC and Real Food Creative. When she isn’t shopping local or cooking local food, reading with a cup of tea or binge-watching Gilmore Girls (with a cup of tea), she is usually playing with her foster kittens or asking her son to get off his phone and do something with his life already…