Before I started working for the Sustainability and Nutrition office at UC Davis Dining Services, it never occurred to me that there was such a thing as eating sustainably. I would eat based on my preferences and what I knew was good for me, not giving much thought to the environmental impact of my food choices. That all changed when I met the 2013-2014 Sustainability Coordinators, who opened my eyes to the idea that eating can be a sustainable practice.
Sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthy for our environment and our bodies. The benefits of sustainable eating practices are numerous and widespread. Eating sustainably reduces the depletion of limited natural resources such as fossil fuel and water. It also protects the environment from chemicals and practices that harm farmer and consumer health. There are also health benefits to eating sustainably. Sustainable foods such as locally grown produce are naturally less processed and more nutrient-dense; so eating sustainably encourages optimal nutrition. Here is a guide to sustainable eating that will help you get started:
Buy food at local farmers markets. The Davis Farmers Market takes place in Central Park in downtown Davis Wednesday 2-6 pm and Saturday 8-1. The UC Davis Farmers Market takes place at the Silo Union Patio Wednesdays 11-1:30pm. The last UC Davis Farmers Market of Fall Quarter is next week, 11/13/13.
Start your own vegetable garden at home. A $2 tomato plant can easily provide you with 10 pounds of fruit over the course of a season. Check out the Resident Garden at Segundo which is open to all students living on campus.
Initiate conversations about food
Simply bringing up the topic of food is a great way to learn more, find out tips, and discover new resources.
Focus on foods that are available in season where you live. Consult a seasonal produce chart here.
Drink from the tap
Invest in a reusable water bottle. UC Davis has hydration stations where you can fill up with filtered water at the Dining Commons, ARC, CoHo, and Student Community Center.
Rethink your grocery list
Buy more bulk foods, minimally processed foods, and plant-based food. These foods use less packaging and waste, require less energy to produce, and contain fewer artificial ingredients.
Vote with your fork!
Farmers grow what consumers will buy. Eating locally grown foods is the best way to ensure that local farms are able to stay in business. There is locally grown produce served in the salad bar at all three Dining Commons locations. Find it by looking for the “Aggie Grown” label.
UC Davis has been rated a top ten “Cool School” by Sierra Magazine the past two years for its sustainability practices. Find out more here!