April 4, 2012

Go Green with your Grocery Shopping

Freehill,-BethBy Beth Freehill, MS, RD, LD
Hy-Vee Registered Dietician
Clinton Hy-Vee

We all can do something to help improve the health of the planet. No matter how small, everything helps. Since Earth Day is April 22, now is a great time to evaluate how environmentally friendly you really are. Read on for small things that you can do to help take care of Planet Earth and “green up” your grocery

1. Size matters. When choosing between a large container and several small containers that add up to the same volume: Consider whether buying the large container would serve the same purpose and save you money. For example, do you really need to buy individual boxes (and more packaging) of juice if you are going to drink the juice all in the same week and at your kitchen table?

2. Go organic. Organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which is not only helpful for the environment, but also a healthy choice for you and your family.

3. It’s in the bag. We could all carry our own reusable shopping bags when we go shopping and save on plastic waste. Another idea is to reuse any plastic grocery bags we might accumulate to line small wastebaskets. Put a few bags in the bottom of the waste basket BEFORE you line it, so there’s another one ready to use after one is filled.

4. Buy local. Local foods are those that are produced with typically less travel involved, using less fuel and pollution to get there. In addition, local foods tend to be a fresh choice.

5. Gotta have a plan! Plan ahead and shop in conjunction with other errands taking you near your grocery store. The result is a reduction in the use and cost of fuel needed to transport food.

6. Practice the 3 R’s. Produce less waste AND save money by practicing the 3 R’s of reduce, reuse and recycle.

Here are three examples in relation to throwing away leftover food. Not only does tossing leftovers waste money, it also wastes the energy resources and packaging materials associated with the tossed food.

• Reduce the amount of leftover food tossed by serving
smaller portions of foods that frequently produce leftovers
OR …
• Reuse leftovers by serving them again in a day or two or freezing them for future use, OR …
• Recycle leftovers into a different type of meal; for example – add that extra rice to a soup the next night.

7. Don’t be a “spoil”-sport. Throwing away spoiled food is related to tossing leftovers. Reduce the amount of spoiled food that gets tossed through such practices as:

• Reading labels for “use by,” “expiration” or “best if used by” dates.
• Refrigerating and freezing foods at recommended temperatures — 0 degrees F or lower for freezers and 40 degrees F or lower for the refrigerator section. An appliance thermometer assures your refrigerator/freezer is maintaining these temperatures.
• Following recommended storage times for foods. For example, some containers may specify a recommended time frame in which to eat a food after it is opened.
• Avoiding buying so much food in bulk that it spoils before you can use it. Or if you find that you have a large amount of something whose expiration date is approaching, give it away.

8. Drink to this. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Your investment soon will pay for itself.

9. Bulk it up. Some products purchased at the grocery store, such as hand soap, can be purchased in big bottles that are used to refill a smaller-size bottle. Reduce the cost and the packaging by refilling the smaller bottle.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.