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Is the nude food movement the next big trend to hit America? We hope so! In this article, we will explore what is nude food, the current nude food movement taking place in Australia and Europe, and what nude food means for sustainability here in the states.
What is the Nude Food Movement and Why Does it Matter?
As defined by the innovative Wipe Out Waste campaign run by the Government of South Australia, “nude food is food without excess packaging” (1).
Consumers have become increasingly aware of how their food choices not only affect their physical health, but the overall health of our planet at the same time.
Now, more than ever, people are interested in where their food has come from, and what it took to actually get that food to the table.
People are starting to understand that sustainability it not just a term or practice that should to be adopted by large corporations, but a practice that can have substantial impact no matter how small the act is.
Everyone can make small, holistic changes towards being more sustainable, and that will leave them feeling good about their decisions.
We Have A Food & Plastic Waste Problem
How many times each day do you find yourself going over to the trash can to dispose of excess food or plastic food packaging?
We may not realize it, but it’s more than we think.
Imagine this: you order take-out from your favorite restaurant. Once you get home, you open the bag to find several plastic or styrofoam containers with not just your food, but napkins, plastic utensils, single-serve sauces, plastic straws, and more.
It may seem super convenient to have all these items on-hand, especially if you are eating outside of the home, but does everyone really use EVERYTHING that is in that bag?
The unfortunate reality is that once you’re done with your meal, you’re likely to toss everything in the trash.
After all, they’re intended to be a one-time use, disposable option. Right?
The Problem with Plastic
You hear about it all the time on TV or in the news, from your friends or your Facebook feed– we American’s have a plastic problem.
Products made from plastic are being produced at a rate higher than ever before, and only a small amount of it is being properly recycled.
In 1960, less than 1% of waste came from the plastic in the U.S. Today, more than 12% of the municipal solid waste stream is made up of plastic waste. (2)
What happens after the plastic is thrown out?
The simple fact is that Americans are buying more and more plastic, but most don’t know, or care, about what happens to the plastic once it is used and discarded.
Plastic is either recycled, thermally destructed or sent to landfills after it has been used. If not disposed of or cared for properly, that plastic can sit in landfills and oceans for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, in 2017, less than 10% of plastic waste was recycled.
This small amount being recycled means that a significant amount, more than 90%, was either thermally destructed or ended up in a landfill.
Thermal destruction is the method of introducing heat to plastic. While this eliminates the plastic waste completely, the burning creates toxic chemicals which are released into the environment and the air we breathe.
This poses a substantial health risk to humans and animals.
On the other hand, most plastic is not biodegradable, suggesting that once it’s sent to the landfill, it stays there. Sunlight can break the plastic down into microscopic bits, but chances are the plastic waste is not in direct sunlight.
In addition, manufacturers producing these plastic containers are considering acidic contents that may be occupying these containers when they are made. So they are adding antioxidants to increase the plastic’s resistance (3).
As a result, decomposition slows down even further.
Reducing Plastic Consumption
You may be thinking about ways to reduce plastic use in your life, especially after reading about the negative effects it has on the environment.
While it is not realistic to wake up one morning and quit using plastic entirely, making consistent, small changes to reduce plastic use in your day-to-day life can really add up to big positive outcomes.
Remember, some things are out of our control.
We can’t change the fact that cherry tomatoes are sold in a plastic clamshell container or the fact that a head of cauliflower comes pre-wrapped in plastic material.
However, below we will discuss some of the easiest strategies you can begin using today that can make a significant difference in not only the health of our planet but your own overall health and wellness as well.
Nude Food Movement at The Grocery Store
The first small step we can make to reduce our plastic consumption is to control the amount of plastic we use at the grocery store.
You may be asking yourself, “how can my actions alone really impact the environment?”
Well, many of us visit the grocery store several times each month, or even each week. If everyone started using less plastic there, that would lead to a greater positive environmental impact.
If every person visiting the grocery store in the United States used one less plastic bag in the check-out process, we’d be saving on a lot of plastic.
Strategies to reduce plastic use at the grocery store:
- Refrain from putting fresh produce or herbs into a plastic bag.
While some of the small bags are now plant-based and biodegradable, they truly are unnecessary. Buy your produce and bunches of herbs as is, and when you get home, be sure to give them a good rinse before consuming.
- Nude food in the meat aisle?
Keep a section in your basket or cart open specifically for meat products. Check the container to ensure there are no cracks or punctures to the saran wrap to avoid any spillage and skip the process of bagging each item individually.
- Bring your own reusable shopping bag.
This one is obvious, but many states like New York are now making it the law. This will prevent the need for getting plastic bags at the check-out line. Over time, the number of bags saved will leave you surprised. Not to mention, some stores now charge a small cost for each plastic bag you use.
Supermarkets in Asia are Now Using Banana Leaves Instead of Plastic Packaging
Supermarkets in Vietnam have adopted an initiative from Thailand that makes use of banana leaves instead of plastic as a packaging alternative. Think of it as a very literal take on “green packaging”. Click here to read more.
Buying Nude Food in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a fantastic way to get more bang for your buck, but you may be surprised by the fact that you’re getting even more than you bargained for. Why?
Single serve products are convenient, but the truth is that you are paying more for the packaging, which often tends to be plastic. Buying in bulk reduces the amount of single-serve plastic packaging used, and the number of resources that go into making each individual item.
Most bulk foods are presented in large cardboard or plastic containers that can be recycled whereas smaller, single-serve items cannot. An example: buying a large tub of yogurt compared to buying a pack of six individual-serving sized yogurts.
When you choose to buy in bulk, the amount of material being subsequently thrown out is significantly reduced.
When you buy in bulk, you’re not only paying less for each serving and saving money, but you’re also helping the environment by reducing your overall plastic usage.
Nude Food at the Farmers Market
Buying fresh produce and meat at the farmers market is an awesome opportunity to support local businesses and learn more about where your food is coming from.
Unlike the grocery stores, farmers markets tend to have much less plastic wrap covering and securing individual food products, which is great if you’re supporting the nude food movement and looking to reduce your plastic consumption!
It is unlikely that you will find farm-fresh tomatoes ready for sale in a plastic clamshell, or a fresh head of cauliflower chopped from the field tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
Most farmers will bring their produce in wooden crates or other reusable containers. This helps them support their bottom line by eliminating the cost of packaging materials and helps reduce the consumers plastic consumption as well.
Don’t forget! It is still helpful to bring your own reusable bags to the farmers market to avoid needing to purchase plastic bags for your items.
Nude Food Encourages Healthy Habits
You may not have thought about this yet, but it is possible that participating in the nude food movement can actually help you and your family eat healthier.
Most single-serve packaged foods are typically processed and contain little to no nutritional value. These foods include chips, snack bars, processed meat, cookies, candy and more.
Buying nude foods encourages the consumption of nutrient-dense, whole foods because these foods are sold as fresh, single ingredients.
We always see fruits and vegetables that are beautifully arranged and out on display as soon as we walk into the grocery store. It’s definitely a win-win situation!
Ready to challenge yourself? Start small. A week of following these tips may help your wallet and will positively impact the environment in the long run!