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How Sustainable is Healthy?

January 26, 2011

Before I get on to the main thrust of my post this evening, healthy eating and sustainability, I’m going to talk about my eats for today. I’ve had a brilliant day food-wise, everything’s been really tasty, (mostly) colourful and really healthy!


I started off with using some of my grain of the week, buckwheat, to make some hot cereal this morning. I mixed some of the cooked buckwheat with a tablespoon of regular oats, a small banana and some milk. I zapped that concoction in the microwave for 3 minutes and then stirred in some milled flaxseed and a pinch of cinnamon. It was quite nice, but probably my least favourite meal of today because it was a bit runny. I did take a photo, but it was also the least aesthetically pleasing food today. Mid morning I had a pot of 0% Total yoghurt with some chopped apricots and a few hazelnuts mixed in.


For lunch I had the most delicious spinach and watercress soup which I conjured up last night. It was super quick and easy.



I chopped up an onion and fried it in a little oil until soft and translucent. I then put a good handful of watercress into the pan and put the lid on for 1 minute. I then put two good handfuls of spinach leaves into the pan and covered for a further 30 seconds. I dissolved a teaspoon of vegetable bouillion into about a litre of water and poured into the pan. I then cooked the soup for no more than 5 minutes before blending until smooth. Initially I was a bit disappointed as it was very thin, but it more than made up for that in taste. I served at lunchtime with some toasted pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan for a couple of minutes last night) and it was gorgeous! To accompany the soup I had three sunflower seed and oat ryvitas topped with my homemade hummus. Mid afternoon I had a Apple Pie Nakd bar and an apple.


On my way home from work I was tempted by the organic health food shop on my route home. I bought mainly discounted stuff as it’s quite expensive in there, but I picked up some interesting things.

Some sprouted spelt bread and some sprouted hemp bread to try:



Perfekt quinoa granola:



I’ve never really tried granola before because I try to avoid refined sugar. This one’s sweetened with agave nectar and contains healthy grains such as quinoa and brown rice, as well as nuts and seeds.

I couldn’t wait to try it when I got home, so put some cantaloupe melon, blueberries and kiwi into a bowl and topped with some natural yoghurt and a handful of the granola.



The verdict: yummy. It was quite sweet though, so I will definitely stick to small portions and keep it as a treat (especially as it was quite expensive as well!)


Post-workout I made the perfect dinner – a giant vegetable frittata. I chopped up some mushrooms, red pepper and courgette and fried for 10 minutes. I added in a chopped fresh tomato and fried for another 2 minutes. I covered with 2 beaten duck eggs and fried on the hob for 2 minutes. I then popped it under the grill until it was set. I served on a bed of spinach.



Now on to the sustainability stuff. I had a meeting at work this morning about sustainable procurement and it got me thinking about my own personal habits and how “sustainable” they are. I studied geography at university and went quite in depth about environmental issues and I recently completed a module on sustainable procurement for my professional qualification, so I feel fairly educated on the subject. Yet, perhaps because of this I realise it is such a hotly contested topic and I don’t have very firm opinions.

If I’m honest, I don’t tend to think about the effects my eating habits may be having on the environment and other sustainability issues. I just try to eat the best I can for me. So out of interest today a did a little bit of research. The Sustainweb website has a list of 7 principles of sustainable food:

1) Use local, seasonally available ingredients – I’m fairly ignorant of what is in season when and don’t specifically look out for locally sourced food. I’m pretty sure that a good proportion of the food I eat will have been flown to my plate, including my precious melons.

2) Specify food from farming systems that minimise harm from the environment – my eggs are very free range (either duck eggs from the in-laws or hens’ eggs from my Dad’s friend at work), but other than that I don’t pay particular attention to the source of my food, and I don’t always buy organic.

3)Limit foods of animal origin – I’m not vegetarian, but in general I only eat meat two days a week. I actually prefer the taste of plant-based food, I’m not sure it’s for environmental reasons.

4) Exclude fish species identified as most at risk – I don’t eat fish very often, I more often eat shellfish. Fish to avoid include Atlantic and North Sea cod and Atlantic halibut.

5) Use fair-trade certified products – there is a big debate about whether fair-trade certification is the way to go. I won’t get into that, but I don’t tend to make a bee-line to fair-trade products unless I like them (Devine chocolate is pretty nice).

6) Avoid bottled water – I do this (see my post on Vitamin Water)

7) Promote health and well-being – I do this on a personal level by eating the way I do.


It was really interesting going through the list and realising how little I actually think about these things. I do well in some respects, but it other ways I’m not “sustainable” by the measure of this list. One action I’m going to take away is to find out more about seasonal produce and try and introduce some into my diet (I’m not sure I’m ready to give up melon though). I know the Yorkshire rhubarb season is coming up, so that could be exciting!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2011 9:41 am

    Great post. I don’t eat animal products, and this is one of the reasons why. I also only eat seasonally, and try wherever possible to limit the air miles of non-uk foods that I buy (the main offender is avocados). I was interested to see what you said about Fairtrade. I am very conflicted about this, and would be interested in hearing what you thought. But I’d have to sort my own views out a bit better first..

    Great day on the eats too 🙂

  2. January 27, 2011 10:26 am

    Loved to see your post on sustainability. I know I am often guilty of buying out of season foods because they are healthy, on special offer or I want to make a specific ‘clean’ recipe with them. I am also guilty of going through inordinate amounts of Evian water. I think it’s probably my worst habit in terms of the environment.

    Deary me, I have recently caved to the granola buying impulse too, but I am far less restrained than you: I admire your self-control! I may or may not have eaten half my box this morning…


  3. January 27, 2011 9:57 pm

    I’m proud to say I do most of those…and I’ll try to ignore the words ‘product of Pakistan’ on the side of my dates packet! Stupid food miles! 😛

  4. January 27, 2011 10:59 pm

    Hey — re your comment on my blog about everyone seeming to be veggie or vegan, I totally hear you on that. I’ve read it before from some meat eaters. There does seem to be a real prejudice in favour of herbivores! I absolutely agree though that it is a personal choice, and I really hope you don’t feel under pressure to cut out meat or cut down in any way because of this. If anything, as a herbi I sometimes feel like people pursue it as a health trend, and that irks me.. So basically, no pressure from me to convert! 🙂

  5. January 28, 2011 7:15 am

    That granola sounds delish, I wish naturally sweetened granloa wasn’t so expensive, I like it sprinkled on porridge but I don’t have it as much as I’d like!


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