The Conscious Cook

There’s nothing easier to love than some good food. In fact, the only thing we love more than our food is what we wrap it in ♡

Real talk though, the food we eat plays a huge role in sustainability because there is such a broad spectrum of "eco-friendliness" where it comes to all things food. The most common factor we often focus on while grocery shopping is plastic packaging, but there are so many other things that we can be doing to become more conscious in our cooking! Let's dive in.

Jars

For the love of jars. There’s nothing like a good jar, honestly. Pasta sauce jars, peanut butter jars, jam jars - all the jars, really. They have so many practical uses and are such a great food storage item. One of our favourite ways to repurpose them is to use them to hold smoothies, especially on the go because they won’t leak! Many companies are beginning to sell different jar tops too, which makes reusing them easier than ever!

Refill

While some people are lucky to live near dedicated refill stores, many people may not. However, many grocery stores have a little refill aisle filled with dry goods that are easy to use. Ensure you bring your own bags because often times, they only have plastic ones available. Even if you have to go on a bit of a trek to hit up a refill store, try and do one big shop to reduce the amount of time commuting and emissions later on. A handy tip is to keep a list on the pantry wall of all the dry goods you have and which ones you have less than half of. When the time comes, you’ll know which you should get now and which ones you can save for the next trip!

Farmer's Markets

One of our favorite things to do, especially in the warmer months, is to go and visit our local farmer's markets. Not only are you able to support local vendors, farmers, and artisans but you are exposed to so many different foods and flavours that you otherwise would not have known existed! Don’t forget to bring your cloth bag though, as you never know what you might find (show me a person who leaves a market empty handed and I'll eat my hat). The best thing about farmer's markets is that there is so much less packaging and plastics than in a traditional grocery store, and most items are simply available loose and unwrapped!

Plant Based

As the climate crisis is finally beginning to get the attention it deserves, much more heads are beginning to turn to which industries are among the worst offenders. One of the top things you can do to be conscious of your ecological footprint is to switch to a plant-based diet. While going fully vegetarian or vegan is not practical for everybody, that doesn’t mean that one (or five) days a week isn’t impossible. A popular movement that has sprung up is #meatlessmondays which advocates for going meat-free once a week.

Locally Grown

Next time you go to the grocery store, look at where the majority of your produce is grown. Odds are that it probably isn’t growing down the street. In a country with such a cool climate like Canada, it is very difficult to grow tropical fruits and many other foods that do not align with our growing seasons or climate. Not only does eating food grown near to you lessen your carbon footprint, but it also allows for you to be exposed to foods you might never have experienced otherwise. Locally grown tends to also mean less packaging since the food does not have to be packed to endure long distance journeys.

Bulk

Sometimes it's difficult to get a product that is not in packaging and that’s okay. It's important to just be mindful overall about the waste you’re producing. When needing something packaged, a useful tip is to get the product you need in bulk, which can be cost-saving and reduce waste on a larger scale. Bulk products usually come in cardboard boxes which are very easy to recycle. Think: toilet paper.

In Season

Hand in hand with eating locally, another important aspect of eating consciously is to eat in season. This takes into account what foods would most likely be grown at that time of year in your region, and typically results in the food being less expensive! A good example of this, especially around Vancouver is blueberries. By far one of the best fruits, they are so abundant and inexpensive in our grocery stores in the summertime because they are not being imported in, compared to the winter when they become few-and-far-between, are less tasty, wrapped in plastic clamshells, and definitely are not cheap.

Best Plastic to be Recycled

Did you know that some plastics are better to be recycled than others? Another good practice when needing to buy plastic-packaged good is to try and buy good marked with a “1” or “2” inside the little recyclable logo. These are much easier for municipal recycling facilities to accept and have a high chance of not ending up in a landfill or the ocean since they can be easily transformed into other goods.

CSA

Recently, our production manager joined a local CSA and has been having fun making new recipes and trying new foods and flavours. Now, you might be asking yourself, what is a CSA? Well, CSA is an abbreviated name for community-supported agriculture. This program joins local farmers with those who are wanting fresh produce and helps to provide some of the initial money for the farm to begin their seasons. In return, they receive a weekly box of farm-fresh goodness and also get to support local businesses.

Make your Own!

Something else that we’ve started doing recently is making our own products. By making it yourself, you can avoid so much packaging as many of the ingredients in homemade recipes can come in large sizes and in easily recyclable materials like cardboard. The variety of products that you can make at home can range from kitchen cleaning products, make-up remover pads, repurposed dish clothes, to your own granola! The best thing about making your own products is how customizable they can be, much more so than your typical store bought one