Join us in celebrating polar bears and the sea ice they depend on by greening your grocery list on World Oceans Day, June 8th—and then speak up for local and sustainable food choices. Why? Because your food shopping habits can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the planet to warm and the sea ice to melt.
Begin by assessing your typical week’s grocery list to see how you measure up. Strive to buy:
- Locally grown to reduce food miles (become a locavore)
- Organically grown foods to reduce emissions caused by fertilizers
- Minimally processed foods (join the slow food movement)
- Minimally packaged foods
- Less meat and dairy and more fruits, grains, and vegetables
- Only what you’ll eat (reduce waste)
How can you make adjustments?
- A good start is to grow what you can—from fruits to herbs and vegetables—and freeze or can the surplus for the off-season. (Learn more from your County Extension Office.)
- Next, buy from your local farmers' market and/or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
- When shopping in a grocery store, pay attention to the food miles and the packaging of the product choices. (See our Size up Your Pantry.)
- Request more local and organically grown products from merchants. And thank them for the sustainable products they already offer.
- Look for minimally processed foods and buy in bulk when you can.
- Set a goal of eating less meat. Strive for at least three meatless days a week. And when you do eat meat, buy local, sustainably raised products like pasture-fed beef rather than CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) meats.
- The same holds true for poultry: buy free-range poultry rather than CAFO products; for fish, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's ocean-friendly seafood choices.
- Avoid products that result from tropical deforestation (e.g., palm oil, coffee that isn’t shade-grown, South American beef).
Activity: Green House Grocery List
Categorize your week’s food choices:
- From a farmers' market, CSA, or local product from a grocery store or co-op
- Meat, poultry, and fish – sustainable choices
- Packaged foods
- Minimal packaging
- Minimal processing
- Minimal miles
- Those that could be improved
Did you know?
In 2010, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture accounted for approximately 7% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have increased by approximately 13% since 1990. The biggest driver for this increase has been the 51% growth in combined CH4 and N2O emissions from livestock manure management systems, according to the EPA.
In 2010, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation accounted for about 27% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, second to the Electricity Sector.
The Green House Grocery List is part of our SOS! (Save Our Sea Ice) campaign, a series of Earth Awareness Celebrations centered around energy-saving efforts and action on climate change. The campaign begins each year on International Polar Bear Day, February 27th, and continues through Polar Bear Week in the fall—although you can take the challenges at any time. Visit our SOS! page for more ideas and resources.