Essay / Renewable Resources

My Ten Mostly Simple Steps to Eating more Sustainably

by Christiana

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a personal list that has helped our little family focus on what’s doable.*

1.  If you eat meat, sprinkle it throughout a dish rather than slapping it on the plate as the main event.  Most of us have heard that Americans eat way too much meat.  Fortunately, our meat consumption has gone down in the past several years.  And while that’s positive, we still eat more meat than most people in the world. In many countries, meat is either a special treat or a luxury that many can’t afford. Our meat addiction is not only harmful to our bodies but it’s not sustainable for our earth and the rest of the people who live upon it.

Cookbooks like More With Less give recipes on how to make meat a part of the dish instead of the whole dish.

2. Read the labels Be sure you know what’s in the food you’re buying.  If any of the ingredients are unpronounceable, it’s best to put it back on the shelf.

3. Stick mostly to the outside sections of the supermarket.  The inner aisles tend to be filled with boxes and cans that are chocked full of preservatives and additives.  The outer rim of the supermarkets is where fresh fruits and vegetables (or frozen), meats, dairy and bread are kept.

4. In the off-season, buy frozen vegetables In the wintertime when our own supply of preserved vegetables has run out, I buy frozen vegetables. Surprisingly enough, these are often fresher than the “fresh” vegetables at the supermarket.  Vegetables that are frozen were chosen at the peak of their ripeness. Many of the fresh vegetables at your grocery store, however, were harvested before they were ready and have traveled many miles and days before they reach your stall. “When vegetables are in-season, buy them fresh and ripe. “Off-season,” frozen vegetables will give you a high concentration of nutrients.”

5. Make desserts from scratch. Yes, sugar isn’t great for our bodies.  But we all need a treat…at least, that’s what I tell my kids.  If you’re going to have cake or cookies, make them yourself.  Then you’ll know exactly what’s in them and when they were made.  Plus, you’re less likely to eat a whole batch of cookies in one sitting when you’ve taken the trouble to make them yourself (this is not scientifically proven…).


My whoopie pies

6. Grow your food We all need to better understand where our food comes from.  You don’t have to have a whole garden plot or even a window box to do this.  Heck, start by just buying one tomato plant or a pot of herbs.  Get your hands in the dirt and watch the seed or plant flourish.


7.  Find a CO-OP.  Buy staples in bulk to save money and packaging. Find organizations or stores that know where they’re getting their food.

8. Find a local farmer’s market.  If you can afford to support the farmers who use organic practices, please do.  You might balk at the prices but I guarantee you these farmers aren’t living the high life.  Their prices are higher than the supermarket’s because you are paying for the more intensive manual labor and extra care it takes to use organic practices.  For instance, if you don’t use a harmful weed-killer, you have to weed the produce by hand.  That takes a lot of time and labor.

But your body and your taste buds will be happier when you cut into a fresh strawberry or tomato and realize for the first time what color they’re supposed to be inside.  You’ll never want to go back to the homogeneity of the supermarket produce again.

9.  Stay at home to eat:  If you find yourself eating out a lot, take the time to make even one of those meals at home.  Even if you make good choices at a restaurant, you have very little control over where the food comes from or what’s in it.  Eating together around your table is good for your wallet, your health and your family.

10. Eat in community.  Having people over for big meals in our home is often the most rewarding part of our week.  Eating potlucks and common meals with our community is relationship-building. When we break bread with a neighbor, even if they drive us crazy, it can be a holy experience, as we gather together to celebrate and acknowledge that we share the most fundamental parts of being creatures of God.   We all must eat.  So let’s do it together.

Giant bubble blowing at our community Harvest Festival

Giant bubble blowing at our community Harvest Festival

*My steps have been collected from my reading of authors who know much more than I ever will…and from my little experience.  To really delve deep into food culture,  read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, Nina Planck’s Real Food and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

DSC_0003Christiana is the manager of this collaborative blog. She has postgrad degrees in theology and creative writing from St Andrews University in Scotland. She lives with her family in intentional Christian community in rural Illinois. While her husband farm manages, she writes, sings, gardens, cares for their two kiddos, cooks, preserves food and attempts to homemake. She also blogs at


2 thoughts on “My Ten Mostly Simple Steps to Eating more Sustainably

  1. Old idea: Pay your children, in cookies or points or even money, for each insect pest that’s damaging your garden. You’ll have fewer Japanese beetles, squash beetles, tomato horn worms (the horn is harmless), slugs, etc. on your plants. The kids will be proud of themselves and will learn some biology. Plus, they can have catepillar races.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s