It’s not all doom and gloom though. There’s a lot that we can each do for ourselves, and our planet, to turn things around… and it’s not too late as long as we act now.
Here Liza Barbour, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Co-founder of Dillicious, gives us her top five tips to feed your family while protecting our planet.
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Tip 1: Less meat, more plants!
If you’re an average Aussie household, you’re probably consuming more beef, chicken, fish and other meats than your body needs for health. The evidence is clear – meat, and the animal feed and resources required to raise them, are the biggest culprits for disrupting our planets’ precious life-support system. To start slowly, could your family start meat-free Mondays, or make a pledge to avoid meat at lunchtimes? If you need some cooking inspo, check out Tastes’ 100 vegetarian meals the kids will get excited about.
Tip 2: Opt for ‘nude’, whole-foods where possible
You may have heard the term ‘ultra-processed foods’ (UPFs), which in the science world is a category of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt… yes all the tasty things. They’re not great for our health and their production processes and packaging are depleting our planet of natural resources. To limit your family’s intake, try avoiding the middle aisles at the supermarket, or even better, visit your closest bulk food store.
Tip 3: Flex those muscles and become a food waste warrior
Did you know that Aussie households throw out the equivalent of 1 in every 5 shopping bags of food? That’s $2,136 that’s thrown into the bin each year! To put that money to better use, here are some hacks to help you save food by carefully planning your meals, store fresh food to keep it fresher for longer and make the most of your leftovers. For ongoing motivation, I turn to @therogueginger. And here at Dillicious we of course recommend pickling as an excellent way to preserve surplus, fresh veg! While we specialise in dill pickles made in apple cider vinegar, we’ve got some handy info on fermented pickles too.
Tip 4: Get your (and your kids’) hands dirty
By eating foods grown locally (or better yet, in your backyard or on your balcony), you’re eating what’s in season and reducing food miles at the same time. Cultivating Community have some great resources to get you started including growing food in small spaces, understanding soil health, contributing to a local communal garden, composting your food scraps and starting a worm farm.
Tip 5: Put a face to your food – connect with the humans involved in our food system
Investing time connecting your children with the humans involved in growing, harvesting, processing and selling their food will pay dividends for life. Kids will be more likely to enjoy these foods and ultimately less likely to waste them. If you can, visit a farmer’s market, pick cherries, milk some cows and learn about the extraordinary role of bees at your closest honey farm. These experiences will demonstrate the true value of food, and a respect for local businesses who are using planetary resources carefully. Check out @sustainable.table and their online resources for some great tips to getting started.
Reading and implementing some of the tips here are great ways for you and your family to be part of the solution! Connecting your kids, family and friends with the fact they’re all an active player in our food system is a big step in the right direction.
Liza Barbour is a Lecturer and PhD Candidate at Monash University, and you can read more about her research on healthy and sustainable diets here. Liza and her husband James co-founded Dillicious pickles in 2018, and live and breathe these sustainability practices. You can find Dillicious pickles and hot sauces on grocery store shelves and menus throughout Australia.
Read more about sustainability on the Kip&Co blog.