As we all know, organic and locally grown food can be expensive. As college students, it is especially difficult to eat sustainably because we are already lacking disposable income and spare time. It can be quite challenging to break away from the Red Bull and French fry binge when life gets crazy with exams, class projects, a work schedule, and extracurricular activities.
However, no matter how financially constrained and busy you are, there is a way to eat healthy for you and the planet.
1- Eating healthy has to be a priority. What you put into your body directly affects how you feel, how much energy you have, and consequently how you perform in class. So make time for grocery shopping and cooking, even if it means prying yourself away from Netflix. As for the cost, be willing to pay a little extra for the good stuff…like Bee Chama Honey. If money is tight, which it is for most of us, you may have to sacrifice some other expenses. Personally, I choose not to pay for cable TV and instead use that money for healthy food.
2- Keep a running list of groceries you need (and keep it on your phone). Making a quick note when you realize you’re out of bananas and black beans makes it easy to remember what you need when you get to the grocery store. Keeping the list on your phone saves paper. Being organized and only getting what you need saves money and can potentially save gas and time in the event that you forgot something and had to go back.
3- Support a CSA. Various farms in the Albuquerque area offer Community Supported Agriculture through which you get a weekly box of fresh, locally grown produce. This is a means for farmers to acquire funding for the season and build relationships with their customers.
|Farm||CSA price per week|
|Sol Harvest Farm||$27|
I spend an average of $15-$25 on produce each week at grocery stores. The prices from four local farms are comparable to that amount. Buying from a local farm also keeps money in our community, reduces food miles, and encourages consumers to be knowledgeable about their foodshed.
4-Grow your own food. When planning a garden, choose low maintenance fruits & veggies that thrive in the Southwestern environment. Growing plants that are sensible for the area will save valuable time and money.
- If you have a small living space or don’t have a yard you can garden without a garden. Or if you move frequently and do not want to part with your plant babies you can construct a portable container garden.
- Composting is a means of naturally converting your food scraps into nutrient-rich soil amendment while reducing food waste. Thermophilic composting is a fun way to get rid of your unusable food, lawn trimmings, and even newspaper and cardboard, without throwing it into the garbage. Vermicomposting is a great alternative if you don’t have a place to compost outside.
5- Eat less (or no) meat. Here are a few interesting facts:
- It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef and 25 gallons to produce one serving of rice or grain (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission).
- Meat production is responsible for one third of fossil fuel consumption in the U.S (One Green Planet).
- Thirty Percent of the land on earth is used to raise animals to be eaten (That’s 6 million hectares of forest land every year) (Friends of the Earth, FAO).
- According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the vehicles on the planet.
This means that skipping meat for one meal per week will save 84,000 gallons of water, 15 gallons of gasoline, and 8,000 square feet of land every year…per person. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous reasons a low-meat or meat-free diet is better for the planet.
6-Last but not least, Dumpster Dive. Yes, I said dumpster dive. It’s free. It reduces food waste. It’s an incredibly fun activity to do covertly with friends. And it builds a community you can share and trade your findings with. However, there is such a thing as dumpster diving etiquette, and it’s important. If you want to know more, you can also check out Dive!, the dumpster diving documentary made by Jeremy Seifert.
-Posted by Mickayla