If one of your goals for this month is to make a donation to a local food bank, I'd like to offer the following tips that will ensure your generous contribution will not only feed the hungry, but also leave the smallest footprint on the planet.
- Apply the same good food rules you use for your household grocery shopping to the items intended for the donation bin. In other words, choose cans of tuna labelled as line-caught albacore or skipjack, and look for non-perishable items containing locally grown ingredients processed in your area.
- Select whole foods rather than overly processed junk food to avoid scary chemical-based additives and preservatives that do as much damage to the environment as they do to human health. Don't forget that the longer the ingredient list, the more energy likely went into the making of the product!
- If you can afford to, choose organic food. It's a shame that healthier options cost more in our current food system, but remember that you're voting with your dollars every time you buy better products, whether they are destined for your own dinner table or someone else's.
- Try to find cans labelled as BPA-free. It's a tragedy that those who rely on food banks end up ingesting far more bisphenol A than the average person, simply because their veggies and seafood so frequently come in cans, and most cans are lined with BPA. But we can help make a difference!
- Avoid plastic and waste: opt for food packaged in cardboard boxes and glass jars (check if your local food bank will accept glass) and select bulk items rather than individual servings, such as oatmeal, juice, and canned fruit. And don't forget to use your reusable grocery bags to transport the food.
For ideas on which items are needed most, please consult the Stop Community Food Centre's website, and consider asking your local food bank about their donation guidelines. May the holidays be happy, healthy, and dignified for all.
Photo of food donation bins used under Creative Commons from photologue_np (flickr).