We’ve pulled together a handy guide to buying sustainable meat, fish and dairy, and asked Tim Elwin, managing director of sustainable food supplier Urban Food Market for some insights.
Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Your food may be better traveled than you are. The typical basket of Australian groceries loops the earth twice before it gets to you. Use websites like Local Harvest to find great local produce.
“The more products you can source and buy from local producers to more you can not only reduce food miles but also support your local producers!” – Tim Elwin
Keep your eye out for organic fare
Looking for organic meat and dairy is just as important as choosing organic produce. It means that the farmer made sure that there were no pesticides used in the animals feed or surroundings. Pesticides are not only bad for us to eat, but can also contaminate the soil and water.
How many servings of meat, dairy, seafood or eggs do you have each day? For many Australians, that number has been steadily growing for the last 60 years. For example, chicken consumption has increased from 6kg per person in 1965 to 37kg per person in 2010. That’s a lot of Sunday roasts!
Farms are really resource intensive, and so the sustainable benefits of cutting down animal products in our diet are massive. If you reduce your dairy intake by just two cups of milk per week, you will save 13,000 litres of water and 250kg of greenhouse pollution in a year.
Most things we purchase have packaging around them these days. Try to be mindful of choosing products with less packaging (like at farmers markets) or choosing reusable or recyclable packaging. For example: meat Styrofoam trays are one of only five things that can’t be recycled in the City of Sydney, and have to go in the red bin.
“The more products you can purchase without packaging reduces landfill… and don’t forget to bring your shopping bag to the supermarket!” – Tim Elwin
Try something different
The most resource intensive animals are unfortunately the most common. Cattle, sheep and chickens all require a lot of energy and water to raise them in a nice habitat. Farmed fish can pollute local waterways. So spend some time looking at more sustainable alternatives. Swap farmed fish for sustainably-caught fish, or choose to occasionally swap beef for wild game.
“Ask your butcher or grocer some questions… if they can’t answer questions like how the animal was reared and what it ate then shop somewhere where they do know! Mixing the meals during the week can also make sure that we don’t put so much pressure on one type of meat e.g. beef or chicken. Plus you won’t ever get bored of what you’re eating. Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, duck, seafood, vegetables… see, one for every day of the week!” – Tim Elwin
Look for the tick
Look for symbols on your packaging to shed some light on its origins. The symbols below show that it has met the Australian organic standards, and that the fish have been sustainably caught. Other industry ticks such as The Heart Foundation Tick, or Australian Made aren’t indications of sustainability