Eating my greens

7 January 2011 at 11:24 am 1 comment

Eleanor Cooksey writes:

Early January, and it’s the time of year to be making New Year’s resolutions. After over-indulging during the festive season, it makes sense to decide to eat more healthily. And I would also like to try to be more green. However, I am not sure the two are compatible.

It might seem healthier to cook my cottage pie from scratch at home, but a study shows there are lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions involved in microwaving a ready meal version. This is because mass manufacture involves much more efficient use of resources and appliances, and being provided in portion format, is less likely to lead to wasting opened ingredients (such as that bit of mince that didn’t fit in the pan) or unconsumed cooked food (someone forgot the leftovers hidden at the back of the fridge).

Fine – so it looks like it could be better to eat ready prepared food, and many manufacturers are trying very hard to make their products healthier, for example by using oils high in polyunsaturated fats as oppose to saturated fat. However, it’s not that straightforward, as these oils need more water to clean the residues off the production lines, and I am not keen on increasing the embedded water content in what I eat.

Perhaps I would be better off to keep things simple, eat less meat, and focus on my ‘five a day‘. But who would have thought that it is greener to eat a salad with tomatoes imported from Spain than local produce needing lots of energy to heat the greenhouse, or that an English apple will have been consuming energy to stay fresh in refrigeration  throughout the winter? Or that going for fish is equally challenging given the amount of research needed to ensure you are eating from truly sustainable sources?

To avoid subsisting on a diet of just Brussels sprouts, turnips and parsnips I need help. How can we cut through the complexity so we can all make good (ie healthy, green and good value) choices as a consumer?

The photograph at the top of this poast is from VegBox Recipes, and is used with thanks.

Entry filed under: consumers, food, sustainability. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Being green without seeing red « xrematon  |  27 August 2011 at 8:44 pm

    […] Well, take the most basic of human activities: eating. Doing this in a ‘green’ way is not straightforward. The more you get to understand about the decisions you are making, you realise there are no simple choices. I have written on this at greater length elsewhere. […]


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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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