While we devote an entire day each year to celebrating the earth through Earth Day, there are things we can do daily to celebrate our planet and promote earth-friendly practices, including nutritious and sustainable snack foods.
We can plan to enjoy our time outdoors in nature, recycle our waste, and participate in environmental clean ups, which all offer great ways to embrace the beauty of our planet. However, choosing to eat more sustainable foods and snacks is another way to support earth-friendly practices.
There seems to be more awareness among food brands and consumers about the importance of sustainability in the food system. Understanding the versatility of foods and ingredients and reducing food and water waste all play a significant role in the health of our planet.
Here are some easy, nutrient-dense ideas for sustainable snacks so you can nourish your body and the earth at the same time.
If you’re a popcorn fan, now is your chance to try popped water lily seeds. Popped water lily seeds are a staple in Ayurvedic culture and are a sustainable snack. The cultivation of lily seeds doesn’t destroy the ecosystem, and no water lilies are destroyed in the picking process. Bohana Life popped water lily seeds comes in flavors like wild white cheddar, sea salt, chocolate and sweet cinnamon drizzle.
A big part of sustainability is responsible farming techniques. Peanuts are technically legumes, so unlike tree nuts, they grow underground. Because of this, peanuts have nitrogen-fixing properties that benefit the soil they grow in and add nutrients back into the soil, therefore helping other crops grow. These practices allow peanuts to help conserve fertilizer for other crops.
Additionally, peanuts are water-efficient compared to other nuts and rely mostly on rainwater. According to the USDA, America’s agriculture sector accounts for nearly 80% of the average water consumption. Data from a large UNESCO study, which has become a reliable key source of information for measuring a commodity’s water consumption, found the water footprint of peanuts to be 4.7 gallons per ounce, which is much less than other nuts.
Lentils may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of snacks, but roasted lentils or lentil-based dishes can certainly fit the bill. Lentils are one of Earth’s oldest and most eco-friendly plants. They are also resource-efficient and require little water to produce and fertilize the soil where they grow. Like peanuts, they absorb and use nitrogen from the air.
You can whip up your own lentil hummus using lentils instead of chickpeas. Lenties also offers dry-roasted lentils with olive oil and premium spices. Each pouch is resealable and biodegradable and offers a healthy and sustainable pantry snack with a minimal carbon footprint. Lenties also donates 10 cents to Feeding America for each bag sold.
Hard-boiled eggs are one of the most budget-friendly, convenient, protein-packed snacks available. The egg industry has been working hard to reduce eggs’ environmental footprint over the last 50 years, and have done so through improved hen feed, better disease control, advancements in hen housing and a reduction in the reliance on natural resource use.
It takes 32% less water to produce a dozen eggs than it did 50 years ago, according to a landmark study funded by the American Egg board. Egg production also releases 71% lower greenhouse gas emissions than in the past. Furthermore, hens are using about half of the feed to produce more eggs than they have in the past.
There can be many different terms on an egg label, but typically, buying locally raised eggs is your best bet. Organic, pasture-raised and the certified humane labels all help ensure the hens are able to roam outside, treated well, and free of antibiotics. Cage-free eggs typically come from hens that are raised in very tight, crowded spaces with a higher probability of air, water and soil pollution, so purchasing pasture-raised eggs is better for the environment.
While almonds require more water to produce than peanuts, almond farmers have reduced the amount of water needed to grow each almond by nearly 33% between the 1990s and 2010s. They are also committed to continue to further decrease water usage by 2025.
None of the almonds go to waste during production, as the hulls, shells and trees all have purposes and can be used for other farming purposes. Current research is exploring using almond hull and shell components as a growing medium for mushroom cultivation, livestock bedding, feed sources for poultry and aquaculture, and more.
These sustainable snacks are a great way to care for your body and the planet. What earth-friendly snacks have you been munching on lately? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published June 2021, updated April 2022
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