I'm passionate about the topic of eco nutrition - the relationship between our food, agricultural methods, our health, and our environment. It can be quite a dilemma for me as a nutritionist to decide between what's healthy for me and my family, and what's healthy for the planet. For example, if I'm shopping for fresh produce at a supermarket, do I pick organic produce, that's heavily packaged and flown in from abroad, vs. non-organic, but package free local British produce? It's a tough decision but I am finding myself veering more and more towards local and plastic free, rather than organic and heavily packaged.
For me, organic stands for ethical - without routine use of pesticide and other chemicals, and respecting the soil to preserve its minerals. But with plastic particles finding their way into our soils and now into our food chain, can it really be ethical to buy organic in plastic packaging and contribute to the world's plastic waste? We might be feeding ourselves healthier for the moment, but at what cost? We are simply adding to the world's plastic pollution- which eventually will filter down into our organic foods anyway.
Ideally of course, we would all be buying local organic produce from farmers’ markets or use organic delivery schemes or local greengrocers, and this is definitely a great target to strive for. However, at the moment, these options are not always accessible or affordable for everyone and supermarket shopping remains a practical necessity for most people - myself included. I do subscribe to a delivery scheme and I do shop at a farmers' market whenever I can - but most weeks, I still need to top up at the supermarket.
I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that many supermarkets do offer a good selection of plastic packaging free fruit and vegetables, although unfortunately non-organic. And though it’s not as practical to load loose apples, oranges and kiwis into your trolley, and even less so at the checkout, where you would probably also have to contend with a few funny looks from people around you, in my opinion it’s definitely worth it to know you are doing your bit for the planet!
The downside when buying non-organic fruits and veg is that you will need to peel them – and in a lot of fruits/veg many of the nutrients are found in the skins. You could also use a fruit/veg wash but these come in big plastic bottles so what are you actually achieving for the environment.
It is a minefield but we can only take it step by step and remember that everything we do, every little step, does make a difference- positive or negative. Our actions count and we are responsible for them. In the words of Ghandi - change yourself, and you will change the world.