Fill up on fresh food

Fresh food isn't just good for your body—it can also good for the planet. In fact, dieticians have discovered a clear link between the two. Making culinary choices that benefit our health—for example, eating less meat and choosing more plant-based and locally grown foods—can help reduce carbon emissions and water usage.

But what's the sustainability cost of not making these choices? New reseach from Oxford University and the Swiss agricultural institute Agroscope has created a comprehensive database of information about the environmental impact of 40 different types of food. The researchers found that high-impact beef producers can create a huge 105 kilos of CO2 equivalents and use 370m2 of land per 100 grams of protein—that's 12 and 50 times greater, respectively, than low-impact beef producers.

According to the same research, plant-based foods tend to have a smaller environmental footprint: low-impact beans, peas and other plant-based proteins create just 0.3 kilos of CO2 equivalents and 1m2 of land per 100 grams of protein, and the average litre of soy milk has creates about half the emissions, and uses half the land, of its low-impact cow's milk equiavelent.

Behavioural change can help reduce the strain our food habits are putting on the environment—opting for fewer animal products and avoiding heavily processed and packaged foods are two simple ways to start. Here are some other ways you can incorporate more local, ethical fresh food into your daily diet:

  • Grow your own: start your own fruit and veggie patch, or join a food co-op or community garden in your area—find your nearest community garden on the Brisbane City Council website.
  • Shop at farmers markets: support local farmers and stock up on fresh fruit, veggies and more at your closest farmers market, or order a fruit and veg box from an ethical supplier such as FoodConnect or The Ethical Grocer.
  • Eat out wisely: many cafes and restaurants now only source their produce from local growers and suppliers—Fair Food Forager is a great free resource you can use to rack down ethical eateries in your area.
  • Choose ethical meat, poultry, fish and dairy: Look out for free-range and organic labelling on meat and eggs, and use the Sustainable Seafood Guide so you can buy fish from certified fisheries that meet international sustainability standards. 

You can also find plenty of fresh food options right here on campus—check out our UQ Fresh Food Dining Guide. Bon appetit!