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6 Steps to a Greener Diet

6 Steps to a Greener Diet

By Curtis Cook

When did eating become so complicated? How do we sort our way through hundred mile diets and the dilemmas of omnivores? Should I feel terrible for eating California lemons in Canada?

Everyone needs to eat but the act has evolved from necessity to complexity. Humans have developed an unhealthy relationship with food. As we struggle to embrace environmentally-responsible lifestyles, that relationship with food becomes even more complex.

It’s enough stress to give anyone heartburn, but here are some simple suggestions to nurture your inner green foodie:

1. Seek the local advantage.

If you can get fresh local produce in your community you are doing yourself and the planet a world of good — minimal transportation, minimal greenhouse gas emissions, minimal preservatives (and probably pesticides) and maximum flavor and nutrition.

2. Eat your veggies and fruit.

Mom was right, and there is no denying it. To paraphrase healthy eating pioneer and Fit for Life author Harvey Diamond, those scientific discoveries of health enhancing nutrients are never found in pork chops. Arguably, a vegetarian diet is easier on the planet and the body, as long as you eat a balanced diet to get all the nutrients you need. Meat, dairy and grain production take more energy then they return and consume large tracts of land. Experiment by introducing more produce into your diet and try to go for a few days without meat.

3. Cut out take-out.

If you have to order it through a clown’s mouth, eat it out of a waxed paper wrapper or wait thirty minutes before it’s free, it is not a green food choice. The planet and your digestive tract will thank you for reducing or eliminating your fast-food consumption.

4. Small meal = small energy.

If you are heating up leftovers or a small meal, consider an energy efficient option to the stove or oven. A small electric grill or toaster oven will likely use less energy for the same task. As your large kitchen appliances wear out, consider recycling options, as well as replacement with Energy Star or other energy efficient models.

5. If you can’t eat it, compost it.

Don’t let your food waste enter the landfill. Most food (meat and heavily processed and packaged foods being obvious exceptions) can be returned to the earth with minimal effort. Composting can be a great learning experience for kids as well. Don’t have a composter? Here’s how to create one –whether you have a big back yard or not

6. Become food informed.

If people knew the history behind the food on their plate, it would change the modern American diet. We accept livestock bloated on antibiotics, pesticide-laden vegetables, depleted fish stocks on the verge of collapse and a grand experiment to genetically modify crop after crop. Fortunately, there are greener alternatives for meat and fish lovers, as well as recognized practices for sustainable and organic food harvesting. Ask your grocer and the owner of your favorite restaurant about their food suppliers. You deserve to know what you are eating and the impact it may be having on you and the planet.

Get More 30 Days to a Greener You Ideas

Curtis Cook is the Executive Director of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, President of Ecotactix and Founder of the Executive Centre for the Ecology Economy. He is a two-time book author and has written over 100 published articles on the environment, clean technologies, innovation and sustainable business. provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eco-friendly tips, Green, Health

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2:31AM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

awesome info

1:38AM PDT on Apr 24, 2013

Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

11:21PM PST on Mar 1, 2011


6:45AM PST on Mar 1, 2011

A couple of useful and easy-to-apply tips! Great article!

1:02AM PST on Jan 2, 2011

Thanks for the article.

1:58PM PDT on Mar 31, 2010


1:41AM PDT on Jul 5, 2009

please sign this petition for vegetarian food restaurants

10:59AM PDT on Jun 14, 2009


4:29AM PDT on Jun 14, 2009

thank you...

7:28AM PDT on Apr 28, 2009

After reading, "Health at Every Size," by Linda Bacon I have decided that I no longer want to stress about my food. I should just enjoy eating better, but enjoy it. I love some of these ideas, especially the one about knowing where my food came from and how. I truly believe that if your food was happy before it became food, then I will benefit from it better.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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