What is a Sustainavore?

I was recently asked to define my definition of “Sustainavore” by Today’s Green Minute.

My overall “fork philosophy” is nourishing myself while contributing to the livelihood of other people, the planet, the community and local economy. Also, limiting any negative effects that may be the result of my food choices. Thinking of the whole cycle when making my food choices is important. Just as important is being grateful for the food and all the work and sacrifice that went into it. It is often difficult to stick with one strict philosophy all the time depending on location, season, what is available when and where.

Before we get into the details, being open to other food philosophies is essential. Not discounting or dismissing others’ food philosophies helps us understand what motivates people to eat the way they do. We can also get ideas to integrate into our own food choices by exploring other food philosophies.

Below are some basic guidelines I currently live by:

Meat (I believe in being selective about the meat I buy and eat):

  • Local Grass-fed and grass-finished red meat (super important to make sure it’s grass-finished. grass-fed and finished is healthier than grain-fed and better for the animals and the planet)
  • Buying from ranchers who use sustainable grazing practices (holistic management)
  • Local organic-fed  (or similar, non-GMO) chicken and eggs (dark golden yolks get me excited)
  • Eating nose-to-tail (not wasting any part of the animal) including organ meat and not so popular cuts (inexpensive and healthier than eating only muscle meat)
  • A little bit of fish, following the Monterey Bay Aquarium guidelines (my favorite is a local family that salmon fishes in Alaska in the summer and sells it locally in Boise)
  • Animal welfare and humane treatment of the animals
  • Wild game

Vegetables, Fruit and Grains:

  • Local organic (or similar) vegetables and fruit
  • Local when available

Buying Local:

  • Supporting the local economy, keeping money in the community/region
  • Supporting my local farmers, ranchers, food artisans, farmers markets and grocery stores that carry local items
  • Knowing who grows my food and how they grow it

Non-local specialty and out-of-season items (as with my other food choices, I am selective when it comes to something non-local):

  • Sometimes you just need something out of season or something that just isn’t grown in your area
  • Organic or similar, fair-trade, sustainable
  • Examples are cacao, chocolate, tea, berries out of season, coconut oil, some spices, quinoa

Reducing waste and composting (in the U.S. about 40% of our edible food goes to waste. according to the charity Feeding America, more than 6 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables go unharvested or unsold each year):

  • Wasting as little food as possible (eating leftovers, not buying too much perishable food at once, sharing, being creative with food that could easily be tossed, making broth from bones)
  • Composting any food waste I possibly can

Limit processed foods (very small amount of my diet is reserved for processed foods):

  • Foods with the least amount of processing and the most natural
  • Frozen organic pizza, sprouted bread, coconut ice cream are a couple of examples

As Michael Pollan says in Food Rules, break the rules once in a while. I’m sure I’ll adjust my philosophy as our food system changes, evolves and improves. Please share your food philosophy!