By Kelly Springer RD, MS, CDN, Kelly’s Choice CEO
Care about sustainability? At Kelly’s Choice, we do!
Sustainable food refers to food products and practices that prioritize the long-term well-being of the planet, human health, and local communities. These foods are not only good for you but also for the environment—they do not contribute to deforestation or water scarcity—they have a super-low carbon footprint. In this blog, I delve into my Top 10 Favorite Sustainable Foods. Some you probably know—others maybe not!
1. Black Walnuts
We’ll start with the star of the show—Black Walnuts! These nuts, known for their robust flavor and distinctiveness, are harvested from native walnut trees in North America. They have more protein than any other nut and of course, healthy fats needed to keep your brain and heart healthy. Black walnuts are incredibly sustainable for several reasons. They thrive in the wild, without the need for chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Their tough shells help preserve the nut inside, reducing the risk of spoilage. Black Walnuts can be a part of a sustainable diet while supporting local, small-scale farming operations. These trees are often encouraged in agroforestry systems as they help improve soil health and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. Go wild for Black Walnuts!
Don’t worry! You don’t need to go collect them from your backyard. Hammons Black Walnuts has you covered! They sell the Black Walnuts straight up, in baked goods, protein powder, and more. I am 100% hooked
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like kale and spinach can be produced in large quantities with minimal resources. They’re tolerant of a wide range of conditions and many have extended growing seasons. For example, the kale in my garden often lasts through November when snow starts flying in Skaneateles!
Lentils are a versatile and sustainable source of plant-based protein. They require minimal water and have a low carbon footprint. Growing lentils helps replenish nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. Additionally, they are often grown in rotation with other crops, which can improve soil health and reduce pests.
Quinoa is a high-protein grain that is native to South America. It’s drought-resistant and can grow in harsh conditions, making it an essential crop for food security in many regions. Its adaptability and nutritional value have contributed to its reputation as a sustainable superfood.
5. Salmon (Sustainably Caught)
Sustainable fishing practices ensure that fish populations remain stable, and ecosystems stay healthy. Look for seafood products certified by organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to ensure you’re making an eco-friendly choice. Wild-caught salmon, when sourced sustainably, is a healthy protein option that supports ocean conservation
6. Sesame Seeds and Tahini
Sesame seeds are so versatile in cooking. And they are rich in protein, healthy fat, and B vitamins. Toasted ground sesame seeds create tahini, which is a delicious condiment on its own or as a primary ingredient in hummus. Sesame seeds can grow in almost any soil condition!
7. Ancient Grains
Incorporate ancient grains like spelt, amaranth, and farro into your diet. These grains are hearty and can often be grown without the use of synthetic chemicals. They also represent a diverse range of flavors and textures, adding variety to your meals.
8. Local Honey
Local honey not only tastes delicious but also supports beekeepers and pollinators in your area. By purchasing honey produced near you, you encourage bee populations and benefit from the honey’s potential allergy-fighting properties. It’s a healthier way to sweeten your food too!
Like lentils, beans help replace nitrogen in the soil. They’re also resistant to extreme weather and are drought tolerant. What I love about beans is that there are so many varieties—black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, and so many more. Also, they are an extremely budget-friendly food!
10. Seasonal and Local Produce
One of the simplest ways to eat sustainably is by consuming fruits and vegetables that are in season and locally sourced. This reduces the energy and resources needed to transport and store produce, while also supporting local farmers.
Sustainable foods offer a path toward a healthier planet and healthier living. By choosing items like Black walnuts and the other foods mentioned here, you not only improve your well-being but also contribute to the conservation of our environment and the well-being of communities around the world. Embrace sustainable foods and make a positive impact with every bite.