What is sustainable food?

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Increasingly, consumers are concerned about the sustainability of food, and this factor is becoming one of the criteria they look at when choosing one or another food on the market.

The first thing to know is that there are three fundamental pillars on which sustainable food is based:

  • Environmental sustainability: this has to do with the impact on the environment, not only the carbon footprint, but also the water footprint, impact on the landscape, land use, impact on biodiversity, etc.
  • Social impact: which refers to the population in charge of food production, decent working conditions, fair wages, rural population fixation…
  • Economic sustainability: it concerns balanced relations with suppliers, fair tax payments, the promotion of rural employment in the primary sector, the resilience of rural territories… it is necessary to bet on a strong primary sector.

However, when it comes to shopping, it is difficult to know which of the foods purchased is more sustainable, as there are many factors to take into account.

So here is a guide to 10 basic principles that you can follow yourself in your daily shopping for healthier and more sustainable food:

  1. Buy just enough to avoid food waste: the least sustainable thing to do is to throw away food, whatever it is, because if it is thrown away it has been wasted.
  2. Buy less processed products and prioritize fresh products in the diet.
  3. Reduce the intake of foods of animal origin: our consumption of foods of animal origin is above the nutritional recommendations. Thus, it is possible to consume less meat, substituting it for legumes or turning it into another ingredient in other dishes.
  4. Eat higher quality meat: if animal products are consumed, opt for those that come from extensive, pasture-raised production, since these animals have a social impact in terms of fixing the rural population, they also clean the countryside, which prevents fires, and have a much lower carbon footprint than intensive farming.
  5. Choose products produced in an agroecological way: use less pesticides, rotate crops to favor soil productivity, etc. Any form of agriculture that favors less use of pesticides, more rational cultivation and adequate soil management is better, although the impact of the products is not necessarily lower.
  6. Consume local products: this, in addition to reducing environmental impact, contributes to improving the social and economic impact on our environment.
  7. Consume seasonal products: this is a very easy measure that allows us to eat products that are close to us and at their best quality and price.
  8. Avoid food transported by plane, some tropical fruits or delicate products.
  9. Prefer bulk products, but handle and preserve them well to avoid waste: bulk products have a shorter shelf life, and should be stored properly after purchase to avoid problems.
  10. Bet on fair trade: there are products that are not produced in our latitudes and it is difficult to do without them (coffee, tea, cocoa…). In these cases, the ideal is to bet on fair trade to promote social and economic sustainability in producing countries.

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