With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner and March being National Nutrition Month, there’s no better time to think about going green, but we’re not talking about the color. We’re talking about going green with the top five sustainable foods that are good for the environment.
“So when we talk about St. Patrick’s Day, we talk about going green, let’s think about what we can do for the environment to help make our footprint, and try to reduce some of the carbon footprint that we use as consumers,” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, Clinical Dietitian at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “By eating these healthy foods, you’re not only going to improve your health, you’re going to improve the environment.”
Here are Amy’s top five eco-friendly food picks to help you “go green”:
It’s known as a “superfood” because it contains a significant amount of vital nutritional requirements and grows quickly in most climates. Kale is a great low-impact food for any season. Add it to salads and burgers for an extra punch of vitamins A, K and C.
(legumes, peas, beans): Rich in complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and dietary fiber. When the plants are decomposed they act as a great source of nitrogen for the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer. Compared to other sources of protein, it uses much less water. (It takes 43 gallons of water to grow one pound of lentils compared to approximately 2000 gallons of water for one pound of beef.) Also, consuming pulses instead of animal protein provides a lower fat option.
Barley can be grown quickly and in harsh environments where other plants can’t survive. They have also been known to be a natural way to keep weeds and pests away. Barley serves as a source of soluble fiber, which binds with cholesterol in the blood and removes it from the body. They’re a nutritious addition to soups and can be found in bread and beer.
: Cabbage can grow in low temperatures so there’s a high likelihood of buying it in season and at a low price. It has a very long shelf life as a leafy vegetable - usually lasts from three weeks, and up to two months, in your refrigerator. Cabbage is very versatile
and contains high amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It’s also part of a group of vegetables known to reduce your risk of cancer.
Require less nutrients and no fertilizers to grow leaving the soil well-balanced. Oats use much less water compared to other crops. They also control harmful weeds and pests. Oats are a very good source of soluble fiber and beta-glucans (beneficial for heart health). They also help lower your blood sugar and bad cholesterol levels.
Other ways you can go green in your daily life: reuse grocery bags, shop locally, buy bulk to minimize plastics and packaging and invest in reusable water bottles.