The 10 Most Eco-Friendly Foods
The most eco-friendly foods out there are the ones that grow out of the ground or fall from a tree. Organic foods tend to be more Earth-friendly than others because they’re certified free of synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering and most conventional pesticides. Here are the top 10 eco-friendly foods to make your eating experience a little more "green".
1. GARDEN PEAS
Not many foods give back more to the environment than they take. Peas, though, can be thought of as a sort of self-fertilizer, because they basically make their own nitrogen. This means that they require much less synthetic fertilizer. If harvested in a sustainable fashion, pea plants will even help to enrich the soil with all that extra nitrogen, making them a true environmental hero in the vegetable world.
Finding vegetable protein sources is an important step in mapping out a sustainable lifestyle, and beans more than fit the bill. Dried beans also have a very long shelf life, which means less food waste and better organic living.
Broccoli produces compounds related to a class of industrial pesticides, but their pest defenses are 100% natural. This means farmers can grow broccoli without the need for excess chemicals. Here’s a bonus: those same compounds in broccoli that fight off bugs are also thought to keep certain human cancers at bay.
When it comes to eco-friendly produce, one good rule of thumb is to find foods with a more extreme flavor profile. The compounds that make a vegetable unusually bitter or piquant are there for defensive purposes. An onion’s especially strong odor comes from an abundance of chemicals containing sulfur. Too much sulfur might make you cry when you’re cooking dinner, but you should be all smiles in the grocery aisles. Onions are less inclined to suffer from pests because bugs like sulfur even less than we do.
If you’re looking for an all-around eco-winner, potatoes are be your best bet. Potatoes require only a moderate amount of water and fertilizer. Pest control comes naturally to potatoes, as they produce compounds that ward off insects and disease – and the crop yield for potatoes is also relatively high. If you’re a potato lover, you’re probably helping to prevent food waste too. Potatoes can last in the pantry for a while before they start going bad. A baked potato dinner will be a much lower burden on the environment than most alternatives.
Water consumption is key in calculating the environmental friendliness of a crop. Too much water means too much energy expended to keep plants healthy. A pound of oranges requires approximately 55 gallons of water. That bumps up to 102 gallons for bananas, 142 gallons for peaches and 190 gallons for mangos. Next to real water-hogs like rice (403 gallons), olives (522 gallons) and the beans used to make chocolate (2847 gallons), an orange is a straight-up ecological bargain.
Conservation of water also works in favor of the apple. At 83 gallons of water per pound of fruit, your average apple’s thirst is almost as moderate as your average orange’s. Plus, apples do not use that much fertilizer. The bad news? Apples require careful maintenance for pest control. If you can find local (and seasonal) organic apples, you will be ahead in the sustainable lifestyle standings.
The nutrient and water requirements for pear cultivation are similar to the growing needs for apples. Unlike apples though, pears reach optimal ripeness after being picked when they’re placed into storage. As a result, speedy and inefficient transportation isn’t necessary, and of course saving energy is what eco-friendly foods are all about. If you’re interested in the local food movement, pears are a good choice. They’re a popular crop on smaller, more locally conscious farms.
9. SOFT CHEESES
Eliminating dairy products from the menu is a fantastic way to maximize the sustainable nature of your diet, but that’s cold comfort to those of us who just can’t give up on cheese. You can always opt for cheese that causes less ecological strain. Cheeses from cows and goats are generally better than sheep’s milk cheese, and softer or less-processed cheeses require less energy to make.
10. SMALL FISHES
The tinier fishes, like anchovies and Pacific sardines, are relatively low on the food chain, and thinking small keeps things sustainable. If you’re more of a land-based omnivore, stick to chicken, because environmentally harmful emissions are associated with beef and pork. Key words to focus on when searching for ethical meats are “organic,” “humane” and “grass-fed.”
Original Article by BerryBreeze.