To celebrate Sustainability Month, members of our FortWhyte team are providing tips on how you can incorporate sustainability into your everyday activities. This week, Danielle Mondor, Farm Manager at FortWhyte Farms, is sharing her knowledge about how to purchase and eat sustainably right here in Manitoba.
Danielle loves food! For the last 13 years, she has been working on a variety of Manitoba farms sowing seeds, setting up irrigation and fencing, weeding rows, milking animals, digging roots, butchering livestock, selling produce — and cooking, preserving, and eating the fruits of her labour. When not on the land, she is found teaching others about food and farming, or chained to her desk writing about food and farming. Being an urban dweller, she grows her own food on borrowed land, shops at farmers’ markets, eats very little meat, and preserves the harvest by canning, drying and fermenting.
10 Ways to Eat More Sustainably in Manitoba
- Reduce Packaging in your Purchases.
Look for items at the grocery store that have minimal or recyclable packaging. Or better yet, buy in bulk with friends and neighbours to reduce superfluous plastics, styrofoam, and wrappers ending up in the landfill or waterways.
- Buy Direct From Local Farmers.
By purchasing food directly from a farmer at a market, CSA, farm gate or food buying club, you are not only benefiting from the taste and nutrition of our local harvest, but reducing food waste that would otherwise be thrown out along the food distribution chain. By buying from small mixed farms that are owned and operated locally, you are putting your money in a diverse and resilient food system that fuels a local economy, avoids mono-cropping, and ensures sustainable food for generations. Check out these great resources to buy local and direct:
- Eat More Vegetable Proteins.
Grains, beans and other legumes use less resources to grow than most livestock, which ultimately means that eating less meat is gentler on the planet. It takes approximately 5-7 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef, so imagine if we could feed all of that grain to hungry people instead of animals! Meat production is also a major contributor to climate change, using 70% of all agricultural land use (which is 30% of the land surface of the planet!). But this doesn’t mean you must take an all-or-nothing lifestyle change: try going meatless one day per week and see how you like it. Here is one resource to get you started.
- When Eating Meat.
Make sure the animals you eat are raised in Manitoba, treated humanely, and live outside on pasture. Choose humanely-raised, grass-fed, pastured, rotationally-grazed or organic. Avoid animals raised in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) and meat where you don’t know how the animal has been raised or what it has been fed. Ask your grocer/supplier to purchase sustainable seafood, too.
- Eat Organic.
Choosing organic food means fewer synthetic agricultural chemicals are contributing to climate change and polluting the natural habitats of Manitoba’s most vulnerable species. By eating organic (and naturally grown) you are endorsing farmers that use compost, green crops, and who manure for fertility, which prevents soil erosion and also sequesters carbon from the atmosphere — a win-win solution in agriculture.
- Save the Season.
Many locally grown foods can be preserved in an energy-efficient freezer for winter meals when eating locally is hard to do! Check out books from your local library to learn simple dehydration and canning techniques to supply you with tasty local foods all year long. One of our faves is Marisa McLellan, author of Food In Jars.
- Try Something New (and then pickle that!)
Manitoba farmers grow an amazing variety of foods! When you try something new, you are expanding your taste buds, nutrition and culinary prowess. You can also make lacto-fermented foods from local ingredients (like kimchi, sauerkraut and fruit sodas) to increase the life of your fall fruit and veggie harvest. And try sprouting local grains and seeds to maximize nutrition from local foods all winter long! If you’re interested in preservation and lacto-fermentation, check out this Edible Alchemy class at FortWhyte Farms this Thursday, October 22nd.
- Grow a Row.
Dig up a bit of your lawn to grow an edible landscape. This not only attracts beneficial pollinators to an urban environment, but is affordable, therapeutic, and results in delicious fresh food! You can get vegetable transplants at FortWhyte Farms in May at our annual open house. Look for details at www.fortwhytefarms.com.
- Purchase Fair-Trade.
Whether you buy fruit or coffee from the tropics, or asparagus and strawberries in Manitoba, workers’ rights are often forgotten about when we think about food. Buy products that are fairly-traded and from farms where workers’ rights are transparent; you are ensuring safer labour standards and higher wages for the people that produce our daily eats. To learn more and take action, check out this great resource.
- Educate Yourself and Others.
Food labels can be confusing, and buying food ingredients that you know are safe, delicious, affordable and sustainable is a time-consuming process. Your farmer will answer any question you ask about how they raise food, and you can learn more about farming and food labels at this Food Labeling for Dummies guide.
October is Sustainability Month! This month, we’re providing tips on how you can incorporate sustainability into your everyday activities. And by sharing what you, your friends, and community are doing to get sustainable this October, you could win some great prizes from our friends at Sustainable Manitoba. Tag your Instagram photos and tweets with the hashtag #GetSustainable to enter. Together, we can create a more sustainable Manitoba! Find out more at sustainabilitymonth.ca.