So, you want to change your food habits? There are many reasons why someone wants to change the way they shop or eat – food scares, health issues, animal welfare or simply awareness that a lot of the food we buy contains ingredients we really don’t want to be eating.
In addition, the overall goal could be a simple one e.g. to eat more seasonally, or it could be a bigger overall goal e.g. switching to 100% organic, locally sourced, seasonal, little or no processed food, cutting out specific food types, fair trade, ethically sourced…..
In fact the more you think about it, the bigger that goal becomes – to the point where it literally feels like your head could explode. If that happens (the goal being overwhelming I mean – not your head literally exploding), then it can simply be easier to ignore those goals altogether and not make any changes.
So, what’s the answer?
As with most things in life, when the goal is a large one, smaller steps are the way to go. Let’s not beat about the bush here – if your goal is to go 100% organic that’s going to hurt your purse strings if you do it all at once. Smaller steps will mean smaller hits financially – getting you used to things and prices before moving onto the next.
So, the steps could be as follows (but in whatever order suits you). Pick one, do it, get used to it, then move onto another. The longer you do something it becomes second nature:
- Cook from scratch – buy less processed food, start to look at ingredients labels and make more informed choices. Don’t buy that jar of pasta sauce, make it yourself. Does that jar of pesto have non-recognisable ingredients? Is there a better one you could buy, or can you make it yourself?
2. Buy British – check labels and make sure fresh produce, meat, dairy etc., is British. Obviously some things will never be British – lemons, limes, spices. This one will help towards eating seasonally too – you won’t be able to get British strawberries in January, so won’t be buying them.
3. Shop locally – source a local supplier for your fruit and veg or swap to a box delivery service. Similarly do you have a local butcher, baker or fishmonger?
4. Make sure your fish is sustainable – check what’s safe to eat, check your sources, ask your local fishmonger, and substitute more sustainable varieties if you can.
5. Buy better quality meat – if the leap to organic meat and the corresponding price increase is too much, make your first step to buy free range and outdoor bred. Then perhaps move onto grass-fed, rare breeds etc. Check out online sources like farmison.com (and many others) for great quality meat you can source back to the individual farm. Once you do this, you will never, ever go back to ‘3 chickens for £10’ – the difference in taste and quality is second to none.
6. Buy free range eggs – again, if you don’t want to make the financial leap straight to organic, change to free range eggs. Perhaps the next step could be organic for your dippy egg, but free range for cooking and baking.
7. Buy organic milk – simple change to make, but one that gets you on the right road.
8. Change to organic food one type at a time – milk, eggs, meat, all dairy, fruit, vegetables, (could even break those down to those being eaten raw and those cooked), rice, pasta, spices, herbs, flour, baking products, dried fruit, nuts, oats, oils – choose one food type and get used to buying that before moving onto another. But use what you have in the house already before replacing with organic.
However you choose to make better food choices, there will still be dilemmas to test you:
- The organic potatoes this week are being flown in from Egypt whereas the non-organic are Welsh.
- The local butcher doesn’t sell great quality meat, but you can get organic in the supermarket.
- The local fruit and veg shop doesn’t sell organic, but you’d like to shop locally.
There is no ideal – you have to decide what’s important to you and what you want to achieve, but small steps will get you there.