3 Easy Ways Consumers Can Rejigger a Broken Food Production System

Changing the modern food production system can feel like a Herculean feat from the outset, but, as author and investigative journalist Michael Pollan says, we can do it every time we eat.

“Whatever your politics, there are activities your tax money supports that I’m sure you find troublesome, if not deplorable. But you can’t do anything about those activities — you can’t withdraw your support — unless you’re prepared to go to jail. Food is different. You can simply stop participating in a system that abuses animals or poisons the water or squanders jet fuel flying asparagus around the world. You can vote with your fork, in other words, and you can do it three times a day.

From our perspective, here are three ways every one of us can stop contributing to the negative effects of a broken food production system while balancing desires for convenience, nutrition and flavor.

Eat ugly.

Embrace imperfection! Produce isn’t grown to be pretty – it’s grown to be consumed and give nourishment. Retailers like Whole Foods have partnered with organizations like Imperfect Produce to sell the gnarled, the twisted, the freaky and the downright ugly produce that used to rot on the farm or processing/packing center floor. Packed with the same nutrition as their “prettier” counterparts, bits of imperfect produce are often less expensive to purchase, and a heck of a lot more fun (hello, two-headed carrot).

Eat the whole thing.

Studies show that consuming a strawberry’s leaves along with its flesh stabilizes blood sugar and has the potential added benefit of balancing pH in the digestive tract. Same goes for broccoli stems and leaves, cauliflower leaves, and beet greens, all of which can be transformed through a good wash, chop, seasoning or sauté. The moral of the story? Don’t send what’s good for you to the landfill.

Eat colorful.

Eating a rainbow of produce is easy when plant-based ingredients can be found in every aisle of the supermarket. Some of the most fun and convenient products on the market make use of dried and powdered veggies for vibrant color, nutrition, and sustainability. Check out Foster Sundry’s beet and kale-boosted artisanal sausages. Or Eden Organic Vegetable Ribbon Pasta made with spinach and beet powders. Or Sugarfina’s Pressed Juicery-inspired “green juice” gummy bears, made with apple, lemon, ginger and greens. What kid (or kid-at-heart) wouldn’t be tickled to find these on his or her plate?

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