25 Ways to Eat Sustainably

This post was originally published on my blog, ecokaren, last year but with the recent disappointing news about GE Alfalfa being approved by the USDA, I thought I’d re-post this list so that we can remind ourselves how to eat more sustainably. I know many of you are already following these practices but I thought we should re-visit them and see what else we can do.

Farmers Market

Summer Fruits from Farmers Market

25 Ways to Eat Sustainably

  1. Use the WHOLE vegetable – the stalk, leaves, the whole kit and kaboodle.
  2. Get to the root – buy loose vegetables and not the factory ‘boxed’ kinds.
  3. Be a farmers’ market regular and get staples – onions, potatoes, herbs, etc. that you always use and need
  4. Buy Heirloom – def. of heirloom – crop from seeds that have been passed down for generations, grown in small crops that may restore the health of the soil
  5. Stock up – buy in bulk when in season and freeze, pickle or preserve it
  6. Get advice – for recipes from farmers
  7. Challenge yourself – use up week’s worth of meal.
  8. Local is always the priority. If you can’t buy local, buy organic.
  9. Buy local eggs – with recent recalls of millions of factory eggs due to Salmonella outbreak, need I say more?
  10. Use your basement to keep your hardy vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, and rutabagas. They will keep up to six months in temperatures 40∘F  or below. Store them as close to the time they were harvested as possible – preferably unwashed, green tops will attached and packed in sawdust or moist peat moss.
  11. squash

    Squash from Market Market

  12. Let farm-fresh food delivered – CSA. If you can’t use up one portion, go in on it with a friend of a neighbor.
  13. Be packaged conscious when buying food from the supermarket.
  14. Google your milk. Not all organic milks are created equal. Check your brand at sustainable.org and opt for antibiotic and rBGH-free (no artificial bovine growth hormones)
  15. Use unprocessed grains. White rice is process. Go for brown rice, barley, quinoa or farro. they are healthier for you too. Better yet, go for buckwheat as they can improve soil quality.
  16. Soak beans and grains overnight. You’ll cut cooking time and energy usage in half!
  17. Read labels. Don’t buy any packaged foods that have more than five ingredients or ingredients you cannot pronounce, nothing artificial, and no cartoons on the package.
  18. Freeze organic berries when they are in season. Berries are on top of the organic foods to buy list. Buy them when they are in season and freeze them to have in the winter.
  19. Make your own seltzer – I reviewed Soda Stream and we still use the machine. We don’t buy seltzer waters anymore and it is great for keeping soda bottles out of the landfill and  making delicious fruit spritzers.
  20. Buy local bread – buy bread from your local bakery or farmers market. It comes without packaging, it will be fresher, and the chances are, it will have fewer ingredients.

    Parker Rolls

    Parker Rolls

  21. Make homemade breadcrumbs and croutons. Why buy packaged ones when you can make them with stale bread so easily?
  22. Read PLU codes – any item with PLU codes starting with ‘9′ is organic.
  23. Become friends with local growers and fishermen so you can find out what’s being picked or caught. You’ll know where your food comes from.
  24. Cut out processed corn. THIS is biggie. Avoid buying items with corn or corn-based substances (corn oil, cornstarch, or corn syrup) as ingredients. According to the USDA, at least 85 percent of the corn grown in this country has been genetically modified, meaning the plants were altered to make them more pest resistant.
  25. Eat more REAL corn. Ask your farmer if he uses GMO corn seeds (or from Monsanto’s roundup seeds).
  26. Wash vegetables submerged in a basin and not under the running water.

To read 25 More Ways to Eat Sustainbly, go to Part 2 of the series posted here.

All Photos: by ecokaren

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About Karen Lee

As a former Captain of Eco Etsy and one of the current leaders for the team, I am really excited to be hanging out with like minded team members to share ideas on how we can leave the least amount of carbon footprint.

I sell eco-handmade and vintage goodies in my Etsy shop and consult small business owners on Karen Lee Consulting where popular Etsy Starter Kit is sold. And as a retired Chiropractor, I share natural health news and green tips on drkarenslee.com. Check out my past posts on Eco Etsy!


  1. Fabulous article! Always good reminders.

  2. This is terrific info (and I’m not sure how I missed it on your blog but) #21 was totally new info to me! I plan to put it to the test next time I’m buying something labeled as organic. Great article thanks for reposting it :-)

  3. Great read!
    It’s always good to know where your food comes from so what’s the better way than shopping for fresh, organic ingredients. Our freezer is still half full of self picked blueberries, lingonberries and wild mushrooms, yummy! Also, I can’t wait to have spring here. Having a small garden is a nice way to learn about vegetables, herbs etc.

  4. This kicks butt and I am excited to share this post! Thank you.

  5. Yesterday was national seed swap day! Our garden group(Claremont food not lawns) got together and swapped seeds, plants and planting advice. This is a great article to send to friends or family that aren’t sure why we are so passionate(picky) about our food source. Thanks, Juanita aka juani1

  6. Great article! I love shopping at the “witch store” as my little one calls it as they have great organic foods you package yourself such as rolled oats, flax seed, wheat flour and more, all ranging from $1.19 to $2.97 a lb. Not a bad deal when you compare it to traditional store packaged items. Our local farmers’ market is also great. I love when I can pick up nice fat juicy tomatoes. I’ve also tried spaghetti squash as an alternative to processed pasta – not bad.

    As always Karen, great tips. I learned a lot of new things. Didn’t know that a PLU of “9” meant organic