When it comes to “clean eating,” the definition can look different for different people.
In general, it’s choosing more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their natural state while staying away from highly processed or refined items filled with additives. More oatmeal and less sugary cereal. Or more water and juices and less sodas and coffee concoctions.
But for a growing number of people interested in the clean eating movement, it also includes transparency and traceability: Knowing where your food and ingredients come from and confirming that they were humanely, ethically or sustainably produced.
That may sound daunting, but sometimes it’s as easy as asking a question or reading a label. Consumer interest is prompting companies to make that information readily available to their customers.
Here are seven tips for eating sustainably.
Make friends with a farmer
Shopping at your local farmers market or stand often allows you to meet the people who actually grew the produce. Ask them about their farming practices.
Are they certified organic? Do they follow organic principles but haven’t sought certification? How do they ensure the long-term health of their fields? How far away is it? Do they prioritize sustainability?
The answers to these and other questions will help you choose where to spend your money.
Read the labels
In general, the shorter the ingredient list the better. See if you can identify everything on the list. Also, look for credible certifications and designations that align with your desire for transparency and traceability, such as organic, fair trade, free range or cage-free.
Research the company
Go behind the label and check out the company online. In response to consumer demand, companies tell their own story of transparency and traceability.
Nutrilite, for example, launched a full website highlighting the brand’s efforts in tracking where its botanical ingredients were grown, how the seeds were chosen and farmed, when they were harvested and by whom, how they were processed and manufactured and what testing for safety and quality was done along the way.
Meat, dairy, eggs
When it comes to meat, dairy products or eggs, look for local sources of responsibly raised items. As we said above, that makes it easier to ask questions about farm conditions or find information about any antibiotics, vaccinations or hormones the animals may have received.
Reduce your consumption of animal proteins
Alternatively, consider reducing your meat intake altogether. It takes massive amounts of environmental resources to raise beef, pork and poultry.
Make a conscious effort to reduce the amount you eat, opting instead for nuts, beans, legumes or protein powders, such as Nutrilite™ All Plant Protein Powder.
If you’re at a fish market, ask the fish monger questions about how the fish were caught or farmed. Find out if they prioritize sustainability when sourcing. Ask for recommendations of fish varieties that are highly sustainable and not overfished.
If you’re buying frozen at the grocery store, research the companies. Some provide a QR code that gives you the entire life history of the fish, including the farm it where it was raised or the fisherman who caught it.
Eat in season
Visit your farmers markets and plan your menu based on what’s available. It takes a lot less resources for the vegetables to get from your local farm to your plate than it does for an out of season item to be shipped to your grocery store.
Consider stocking up and canning or freezing the bounty to last throughout the year.
Cut down on plastics
Plastics are everywhere in the food industry, but there are ways to reduce your consumption. First, always bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store or farm market.
Second, look for items with minimal packaging to begin with, like loose leaf tea over prepackaged tea bags. Shop at bulk food stores and bring your own reusable containers.