Thirty three percent* of the average New Zealander’s eco-footprint comes from the food we eat. We are busy people and on the go convenience food that is prepared and packaged to fit in with our modern life is often what gets us through the day, but it comes at a cost – to our health, bank balances and the environment. Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food encourages people to spend more money and time on food and to buy locally. And by food, he means the stuff your grandmother (or great-grandmother) would recognise, as opposed to “foodlike substances” which have been highly processed. His advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. Choosing to eat locally produced food (becoming a locovore) is great way to improve your health and lifestyle while also reducing your eco-footprint.
Here are some more tips on reducing your food footprint and becoming a locovore in Kāpiti:
Grow your own food. It is as local (and fresh) as you can get. Gardening also has great benefits for mental well-being.
- To get started follow the Green Gardener’s monthly garden tips, or book in for a workshop.
- If you’re really serious about feeding your family from your garden, try following The Square Foot Garden concept. Also the book How To Grow More Vegetables (than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine) by John Jeavons is a classic.
- Establish a garden-bee group. Take turns spending a few hours in each other’s backyard to make huge progress in getting your gardens established.
- Get involved in a local community garden.
- Worm farm or compost your food waste, so it then becomes nutrients for your vegetable garden bed and you are set on a self perpetuating cycle of sustainable eating.
Harvest time. If you have a glut of kale, a heaving grapefruit tree or more than you can eat of anything else in your garden there’s plenty of ways to avoid your harvest abundance going to waste.
- Supercook is a great go-to site; type in the ingredients you have and it’ll search major recipe sites across the internet, ordering its finds by how many of your nominated ingredients the recipe includes and telling you what else you’ll need.
- Check out Kāpiti Libraries After the Harvest book list to learn how to make preserves, fermenting and more.
- Swap stalls, such as the Hākari stall are an excellent way to share the abundance from your garden while also creating a community hub.
- Seasonal Surplus in Ōtaki buy and sell on excess produce, on Thursdays outside the Ōtaki library.
Buy local. Not only does buying from local producers have a positive impact on our environment, it boosts our local economy. You can support local producers by shopping at a weekend market – held regularly in Ōtaki, Te Horo, Waikanae, Paraparaumu Beach and Paekākāriki.
Love Food Hate Waste. New Zealander’s throw away 122,547 tonnes (about $872 million worth) of food a year. That amount of food could feed the population of Dunedin for two years. It takes some time and planning to avoid wasting food, but it’s worth it, you can save a lot of money! Love Food Hate Waste have excellent tips and resources on their website.
Be mindful of meat. Eating less meat can make a significant reduction in your eco footprint because of how much carbon different animals generate. If you don’t have vegetarian tendencies it can seem like a big change, but even one dinner a week will make a difference. Vegetarian recipes abound so just try the internet or library if you’re stuck for ideas – have a look at the vegetarian inspirations in Good magazine. For more information on vegetarianism, the New Zealand Vegetarian Society is a good place to start.
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan explores the various methods by which our food is produced and the impact of each of these (find it at 394.12 POL; or a teens version at T338.10973 CHE).
Eat organic whole foods. Avoiding pesticides, additives and the packaging of processed food is not only good for the environment, it’s also good for your health.
- Refer back to Green Gardener’s monthly garden tips for advice on how to grow organically in your garden.
- Join a food co-op. Organic dry goods and fruit/veg cooperatives are operating in Raumati and Te Horo. For more information email email@example.com).
Eating seasonally, this is a natural consequence of localism… The trick is working out what is (really) available when and what you can do with it. This can be a big step for those who don’t garden, but there’s a helpful seasonal food chart on the Healthy Food Guide website. And the libraries have a range of seasonal cookbooks, including:
- Shop Local, Eat Well: Cooking With Seasonal Produce in New Zealand by Kathryn Hawkins (641.564 HAW)
- Eat Fresh: Cooking Through the Seasons and The Free Range Cook, both by Annabel Langbein (641.564 LAN) – NZ book
- At its best: cooking with fresh, seasonal produce by Margaret Brooker (641.35 BRO)
- From Season to Season: a year in recipes by Sophie Dahl (641.5 DAH)
- Now is the season by Laura Faire (641.564 FAI) (she also has a blog)
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Eating Seasonally by Barbara Kingsolver (641.0973 KIN)
Create a challenge. It might seem too daunting to immediately change your habits – try to make it a fun challenge for yourself and others.
- Try the 100 Mile Diet – challenge your crew to eat locally for a set amount of time (pick the height of summer unless you really like root vegetables). Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (available from Kāpiti Coast District Libraries at 641.0973 KIN), The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. Moveable Feasts: the incredible journeys of the things we eat by Sarah Murray will provide some inspiration.
- Dream up your own challenge – in recent years the Local Table competition was held in Paekākāriki, where participants made meals with only locally sourced ingredients.
- Acquaint yourself with the Slow Food Movement. Their mission to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers of excellent foods with co-producers through events.
- ‘The No Impact Sustainable Eating Plan’ provides an excellent summary of how to eat more sustainably.
For more information visit the library. There’s a wealth of books in the cooking section as authors explore wholefoods, eating seasonally, farm to plate, slow food, vegetarianism and creating meals from local/farmer’s market produce.
Also take a look at Top Documentary Films – a source of free online documentaries. Selections are varied and often radical, but films that might be of interest are:
- Edible City: Grow the Revolution
- A River of Waste (factory farming)
- Meat the Truth
- Natural World: A Farm for the Future
- We Feed The World (food waste)
- Seeds of Freedom (industrial agriculture)
- Jimmy’s GM Food Fight (exploration of genetically modified food crops)
- Food, Inc.
- The Future of Food
(*The 33% food statistic excludes fish. Including fish, the average New Zealander’s eco footprint is 56% food.)