1. Drink more water – Water is the earth’s most abundant natural resource. Our bodies are 75% water. Simple calculation: divide body weight in half; swap pounds with ounces. This is the minimum volume of water every human should drink in a day.
  2. Eat real food – Shop from a grocery store’s perimeter as much as possible; this is where the fresh and real food tends to be in conventional grocery stores. If our great-grandmothers wouldn’t recognize it as food, maybe we shouldn’t either.
  3. Eat local – Most food travels 1,500 miles on average. Eating food within 100 miles decreases its environmental footprint and maintains nutrient density and freshness.
  4. Eat less meat – If you are a carnivore, eat less meat per serving but higher quality meat. Look for labels like grass fed, free range, cage free, pastured, low/no antibiotics and/or Certified USDA Organic. Supplement with alternative protein sources including seeds, nuts, beans and dairy.
  5. Think “shades of green” – USDA Organic is an expensive certification process. Many farmers opt for Certified Naturally Grown Certification or are committed to low/no chemical spray, naturally grown, non-GM/GMO, pesticide free or take other sustainable steps. Know your farmers, be informed of common labels and ask good questions.
  6. Dine local – Dine at restaurants that support local growers and artisan vendors. Many restaurants with a commitment to local food often tend to pay employees fairer wages.
  7. Shop local – Locally owned and operated grocers, CSAs, farm stands and farmers markets are growing in number and offering high quality local produce and products. Increasingly they are accepting SNAP/EBT, WIC and offering produce incentives. Check the most recent Local Food Guide for locations near you.
  8. Grow your own – Start simple with kitchen counter herbs. Try a raised bed in your back, side or front yard. Rent a plot in a community garden. A 15′ x 15′ plot can yield $600 worth of produce annually.
  9. Get in the kitchen – Plan, prepare and cook meals with family and friends. Start small by adding fresh herbs, fruits and veggies to prepared and packaged foods. Your tastebuds and gut with thank you!
  10. Vote with your fork – eating locally keeps $0.67 of each dollar in the local community compared with $0.22 when shopping at big box chain stores. In Central Indiana, lunch at most local farm to table restaurants costs about $10, which is comparable in price and volume of food at many fast food chains.

~Christina McDougall, Executive Director of Hoosier Farmers Market Association