How to Change Your Relationship to Food to Change the World
Food is essential to life, but making small changes on how you consume can make a huge impact on the world
Vicki Chou is an environmental consultant passionate about water resources and sustainable communities and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of UNA-USA.
Life revolves around food. For most cultures, eating is a way to connect and cooking is an expression of love.
On the surface, tackling the global food issue contributes to SDG 2: Zero Hunger, but in reality, all of the 17 SDGs are impacted by the way we deal with food. Like Chef Arthur Potts Dawson stated at the 2018 Social Good Summit, water is essential to the growth and health of plants and is just as essential. Sustainable communities need a robust food system and gathering plants and meat affect life on land and life below water. In the Chef’s Manifesto, a global community of chefs contributed to document how chefs are integral to the SDGs and what actions they can take to contribute to the goals. The actions are outlined in 8 thematic areas, which are a synthesis of the 17 SDGs.
By prioritizing the 8 areas, as outlined below, chefs all around the world can contribute to improving the food system, providing healthy food to their communities, and promoting responsible consumption. Don’t worry though, you do not need to be a trained chef to make a difference in the way you cook and eat. You also don’t need to completely change up your diet and lifestyle to make a difference. One small action can result in a large impact and can catalyze more change within yourself and others around you. Incorporate these actions as is comfortable to you and start seeing healthy benefits to you and the world. Here’s how the 8 thematic areas as described in the Chef’s Manifestocan apply to your everyday life!
“Food is life. Food is love. Food is happiness.”
-Chef Manal Al Alem
1. Ingredients grown with respect for the earth & its oceans
- Buy your ingredients from a local farmer’s market where you know how it was sourced.
- Choose produce that require less water to grow and have lower impact on the environment.
- Eat at restaurants that are farm-to-table, meaning the restaurant sources its ingredients directly from local farms that grow and harvest in a sustainable way, usually without hormones and pesticides.
2. Protection of biodiversity & improved animal welfare
- Purchase free-range eggs.
- Consume sustainably sourced seafood (http://www.seafoodwatch.org/) and ethically raised meat.
3. Investment in livelihoods
- Support your local farms and small-scale producers.
- Eat at restaurants that are minority- or women- owned and led.
4. Value natural resources & reduce waste
- Plan your meals ahead and buy ingredients in portion sizes where you know you can consume it before it spoils to reduce food waste.
- Use the whole ingredient – get creative and try pickling, dehydrating, or freezing!
- Be cognizant of how much water you use while cooking and washing dishes.
- Bring your own cutlery and/or takeout containers to reduce plastic and one-time use cutlery and containers when eating out.
- Start a compost pile for biodegradable waste (https://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Compost-Pile).
5. Celebration of local & seasonal food
- Become a regular at your local farmer’s market!
- Buy produce that is in season (https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/).
- Eat at restaurants that have seasonal menus.
- Try building your own garden and growing your own food!
6. A focus on plant-based ingredients
- Shift your cooking toward more vegetables, beans, and pulses instead of meat.
- Reduce your consumption of meat.
7. Education on food safety, healthy diets & nutritious cooking
- Take classes to learn how to cook or watch Youtube videos from other home cooks.
- Challenge yourself to cook dishes that are colorful and diverse.
- Invite friends over and pick an adventurous recipe and have some fun cooking together!
8. Nutritious food that is accessible & affordable for all
- Support initiatives in your community that provide access to food, such as soup kitchens, food banks, or community gardens.
- Show off your creative and tasty dishes on social media and raise awareness about food issues!
Now with these actions, go out and enjoy the wonderful world of food and share with your friends and family your delicious meals. Spread your love through healthy and sustainable consumption of food! Change the world, one yummy meal at a time!