Northwestern is committed creating a food system that benefits our community, food producers, and our environment. Northwestern Dining is working with the Real Food Challenge, Real Food NU, vendors, and local farmers and suppliers to achieve 20 percent real food by 2020. Real food refers to food that is produced through means that promote social justice and environmental sustainability. Here are some tips for eating more sustainably while still enjoying healthy and delicious meals.
There are several benefits to eating food that was produced locally. A shorter distance from farm to table mean less energy is used to haul the things we eat. And fresh, local foods that are in season can be especially delicious. Shop at a farmers’ market and you’ll also be supporting local producers. Evanston and Chicago both have farmers’ markets that run year round. Another option is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. CSA members receive deliveries of produce or other products directly from local farmers. In addition, many local grocery stores label products to indicate where they were produced.
Production of meat, particularly beef, is extremely resource intensive. To reduce your environmental footprint, try incorporating some meatless meals into your diet or pledge to go meatless on Mondays.
Choose sustainable seafood
Overfishing and other harmful fishing practices have pushed many of the world’s fisheries to the brink of collapse. You can help protect aquatic ecosystems by selecting seafood that is caught or farmed responsibly. The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides sustainable seafood recommendations and even a smart phone app to help you make ocean-friendly choices.
Look for organic products
Organic agriculture practices protect the environment by minimizing the use of synthetic materials such as pesticides and antibiotics. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets standards that producers must meet in order to label products as organic.
Dine at green restaurants
Sustainable food practices are catching on in restaurants. The Green Restaurant Association and the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition provide listings of local restaurants that focus on sustainability.