Sustainable Living

Sustainable food brands: Do they really make a difference?

What effect does choosing a sustainable food brand have on the environment? Here’s our pick of the best sustainable food on offer in the UK right now.

Sustainable food brands have come a long way over the past thirty years. Where Fairtrade items were previously only sold in specialist shops, they now line our supermarket shelves. But do sustainable food brands really make a positive difference? Or are they simply a more expensive way to shop?

Have you ever wanted to know what your carbon footprint amounts to just based on what you eat? Well, now you can find out easily. Check out BBC’s climate change food calculator to find out what your greenhouse gas emission contributions are. We’ve also written an article focused on what the impact of your carbon footprint is and how you can offset it. But for now, let’s dig a little deeper into sustainable food brands and the benefits of choosing them!

Does opting for sustainable food brands actually make a difference?

The short answer is that yes, sustainable food brands do have a definite impact on the good of the earth. Why? Because for the people running these companies, people and planet come before profit. Sustainable food brands aim to create products which can nourish and feed us, but not at anyone else’s expense.

A sustainable food, for example, may be marked Fairtrade, meaning that everyone involved with the production of that food is paid a decent wage. A sustainable product may be free of palm oil, which we know can be damaging to orangutans and the environment. 

Put simply, when you choose sustainable food, you tell the companies doing the producing that you have high expectations. And if they want your business, they need to step up! We also recognise that evaluating if something is harmful to our environment can be difficult, that’s why we’ve compiled some of our top tips on how you can know if something is bad for our planet!

Our favourite sustainable food brands

There are so many wonderful food brands who are putting sustainability first. Here are just a handful of our favourites:

If you’re looking to swap to more sustainable food then it’s time to upgrade your family’s condiments! Rubies in the Rubble takes all the vegetables which are rejected by supermarkets for being too ugly, too ripe or too many, and turns them into delicious ketchups, relishes and mayonnaise. In less than ten years, Rubies in the Rubble have saved over 350,000kg of vegetables that were perfectly tasty but not perfectly formed!

Whether you drink herbal or English breakfast tea, you have to agree that Clipper Teas are doing sustainability right. It’s all Fairtrade and they have just come up with the world’s first plastic-free tea bag. We love the total transparency about their practices and their commitment to doing good, a truly sustainable food brand we love!

Nature’s Path make a wonderful range of cereals and bars which are all organic and gluten-free, meaning they are a great choice for quick breakfasts before school. Because who said sustainable food can’t be quick & delicious? We are also obsessed with the range of healthy recipes on their website and are planning to make the Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes as soon as possible, although we may not choose to share… 

All of this hot weather may have you reaching for a cold beer in the evening. But if you’re looking for the most sustainable choice, Brewdog is the only option. Not only are they a sustainable brand powering all of their breweries with renewable wind energy, they also plan to go completely carbon neutral and zero-waste in the next two years. The beer is delicious too!

Divine chocolate was started by a group of cocoa farmers in Ghana way back in 1993 and is now known throughout the UK as the brand for Fairtrade chocolate. We love this sustainable food brand due to their huge range which features vegan and organic bars. What’s our favourite? We’ll get back to you once we’ve tasted them all. Now, what’s next on the list?

If in doubt, check the label

More and more companies in the UK are now Certified B Corporations. That means that these companies and brands are committed to sustainable living and to making sure that their products do no harm. Check out the directory of food and beverage B Corps companies in the UK to find out more. The certification process is rigorous, so when a product has a B Corps logo, you know you’re buying sustainably. 

Sustainable food labelling doesn’t stop there. Whatever the dietary requirements of you and your family, check the label to be sure of what you’re getting. 

If you’re having a fish supper, buying fish with the MSC Blue Label, which looks like a fish and a tick combined, is a good place to start in shopping for sustainable food. If it’s a Sunday dinner, look out for the organic green leaf logo on your meat. And while there’s currently no one logo for vegan, most food producers will clearly label when a product is vegan. It’s a big market these days!

Sustainable food subscription boxes – no muss, no fuss

There is a simple reason why lots of us don’t shop sustainably: we’re just too busy. If you’re raising a family, working, and also trying to get enough sleep, it may well be easier to choose the path of convenience as recognising which food brands are sustainable can be a challenge in itself. That is where sustainable food subscription boxes come in. But are they actually better for the environment?

If you choose the right box, or often have food waste in your home, then absolutely. For example, Oddbox, who sell a weekly fruit and veg box made up of wonky offerings in order to prevent food wastage, reckon that just one of their boxes can save as much water as you would drink in a year. They also donate any leftovers to charities fighting food poverty on a weekly basis.

Or, if you are one of the aforementioned busy parents and even the thought of meal prepping is a bit much, you might want to try a baby and toddler meal subscription, like Mamamade. They offer organic baby food in a huge variety of flavours and you can rest assured that your little one will be eating healthy food which is free of pesticides. And we know organic is good for the world!

Sustainable shopping habits

Another simple change you can make to make your diet more sustainable is to reduce your meat intake, even if it’s only for a meal or two a week! Statistics show that the food sector currently accounts for between 21% and 37% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Emissions from industrial animal farming account for around 57% of this! So making the small effort to reduce your meat consumption can have a positive impact on your carbon footprint, and help to limit the increasing demand for meat products which further increases animal farming. And after all, there are endless mouthwatering veggie options for mealtimes.

Another simple swap you can make is opting for a non dairy milk, here’s a summary to help you evaluate your options:

Environmental impact of milks - opt for non dairy sustainable food brands.

Even if you’re not ready to only buy sustainable food brands just yet, you can still adopt some sustainable food habits next time you’re out shopping. Many supermarkets are committed to being more eco-friendly now – and doing their bit to slowly reduce that plastic waste! We’ve also written an article on the benefits of shopping locally, perhaps one of the best sustainable shopping habits you can adopt, so be sure to have a read!

Go organic!

We’re often told that organic food is better for us and that we should be eating more of the stuff, but it can be easy to ignore this advice when we don’t know the benefits!

Sometimes it feels like the word organic in itself is majestic – but why is eating organic food actually better for us?

  1. Organic food is produced without the use of toxic pesticides. Whilst some farmers do use pesticides in their farming, these are from naturally derived sources, meaning they aren’t nearly as harmful to the environment.
  2. Eating organic food is the best way to avoid eating GMOs (genetically modified organisms), as organic farmers are not allowed to plant GMO seeds and their livestock can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn.
  3. The nutritional benefits of eating organic food is much higher, as organic products contain more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and micronutrients. A 2016 study found that organic dairy and meat contain around 50% more omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy comes from animals that are not given any hormones or antibiotics, meaning that we don’t ingest any either. These animals also spend lots of time outdoors and live what is considered to be a comfortable life.
  5. Organic farming generates positive environmental benefits. It rebuilds soil health, prevents chemicals from ending up in our water systems, enables greater biodiversity and releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
  6. Organic farming practices don’t incorporate the use of sewage sludge (commonly used in non-organic farming). Sewage sludge refers to sewage waste (everything that is flushed into the sewer system) that has been treated. This is usually used as a fertiliser – but thankfully, it is not allowed to be used in organic farming.

Organic doesn’t have to stop at food, for instance – choosing organic wine means that the grapes used in production are grown without toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic chemicals. Biodynamic wine means that the grapes have been grown in a farm/vineyard that is self-sustaining – where all of the components of the farm function as a whole and animals such as ducks and horses are kept on land and fertilise the soil! This results in land being left in the same or even better condition than before farming! So your favourite tipple doesn’t have to hurt our planet!

Certified B corp - sustainable food brands

If you’re looking for more ways to live sustainably then be sure to check out our posts on simple ways to live more sustainably. Why not also consider joining us here at Y’earn, where you can rent everything your baby needs, instead of buying. More love, less landfill! Here you can also find our tips on sustainable school uniforms!

If you share our passion towards living more sustainably & you want to share your tips to help other parents, then why not consider writing a guest blog for us?

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If this is your first visit, hello, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Y’earn and we exist to create more love, less landfill. Pretty lofty, right? Well, not really, it’s actually pretty simple. Our aim is to make renting as common as owning so we live more sustainably while helping the community around us.

Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people in your community or make some cash if you have items you don’t need right now. We’re a sustainable business that plants 🌲, adopts 🐝 and donates to children’s charities.  We’re helping each other and the planet, one rental at a time.

You can read more about how Y’earn works here.

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15 comments on “Sustainable food brands: Do they really make a difference?

  1. Some great tips here!

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