Free-range, fair trade, line caught, sow-stall free… If sus­tain­able eat­ing has you con­fused, you’re not the only one

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents - WORDS BY LAU­REN SAMS

Change your gro­cery shop, save the world.


says Dianne Mcgrath, laugh­ing. “Where do we even start?” It’s ex­actly how I feel, but I ex­pected Mcgrath to have the an­swers – she is, af­ter all, a sus­tain­abil­ity ex­pert. “It de­pends on what you mean by sus­tain­able,” she goes on. “Is it food we can continue eat­ing for a long time? Do you re­ally mean eth­i­cal food? Food that’s grown re­spon­si­bly, by peo­ple paid a fair wage? Food that’s from an­i­mals treated with re­spect? Food that doesn’t harm the planet?”

Mcgrath’s ques­tions give me pause. “I mean, all of those things,” I tell her. She laughs again, kindly. “Look, we have to eat,” she says. “We all want to make good de­ci­sions. But some­times it’s not pos­si­ble – you might eat fast food, or pro­cessed food that has a big car­bon foot­print. Not ev­ery­one’s go­ing to be a veg­e­tar­ian. And if you are, there are is­sues with soy and even nuts. You can’t eat per­fectly eth­i­cally all the time.” It’s a re­lief to hear this.

More than 80 per cent of Aus­tralians say they want to eat more eth­i­cally sourced food, but with lim­ited op­tions at times, it can be a mine­field. What we can do, says Mcgrath, is eat in a way that aligns with our be­liefs as much as pos­si­ble.

New re­search shows the big­gest sin­gle thing we can do to im­pact the en­vi­ron­ment is avoid meat and dairy, which ac­count for just 18 per cent of our calo­rie in­take (world­wide) but take up 83 per cent of farm­land. If you want to cut down on pack­ag­ing, choose fruit and vegetables that aren’t wrapped in plas­tic. If you care about an­i­mal cru­elty, eat free-range, or­ganic meat – and less of­ten, or not at all.

“You can’t solve ev­ery prob­lem,” says Mcgrath, “but you can choose to work on the is­sues that mean the most to you.” Her own jour­ney to sus­tain­able eat­ing, she says, “started one bite at a time”. Yours can, too.


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