Environmental pioneer Gay Browne is the CEO of Greenopia, a company she founded in 2005 with the intention of becoming a resource to support eco-friendly Los Angeles companies. She is also the author of the new book Living With A Green Heart, How To Keep Your Body, Your Home and the Planet Health In A Toxic World.
Browne has worked with organizations including Waterkeeper Alliance, Kiss the Ground, and the Environmental Working Group. She shared her top tips for what to look for when you are trying to cut through the clutter at the grocery, with us.
Dairy Always choose “hormone-free” organic milk. Commercial dairy cows are kept pregnant to increase lactation with hormones and antibiotics which are harmful to your health. By choosing hormone-free organic milk, you are buying milk that is made from cows that are able to roam freely and not fed grain byproducts and chemicals and are free from genetically modified organisms.
Dairy Alternatives Coconut milk has the smallest carbon footprint, followed by soy milk.
Red Meat High levels of red meat consumption have been linked to cancer and heart disease. To lessen your risk, moderate your meat consumption and look for pasture-raised organic meats. Prepare them with slow cooking methods (baking, roasting, poaching, stewing) instead of high temperature practices such as barbecuing and frying as these have also been linked to carcinogens. Additionally, meat production has a massive carbon footprint on the planet; one pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons of water.
Poultry Look for certified humane and USDA-certified organic chicken and turkey. If every American skipped one meal with chicken per week it would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off the road.
Eggs Only buy organic pasture-raised eggs. “Cage-free” and “free-range” sound better than they are. There is less regulation for these types of eggs and they can involve crowded conditions as well as beak cutting to reduce pecking injuries.
Fish Avoid high consumption of fish with high levels of mercury (tuna, marlin, mackerel, bluefish, swordfish) which can be toxic to the digestive and nervous system. Look for Best Aquatic Practices (BAP) certifications on farm-bred fish instead of wild seafood that comes from over-fished waters.
Nuts Hazelnuts have the least amount of carbon footprint because they require little water with which to grow. Brazil nuts help protect the rainforest because they require insects to pollenate in wild trees. Pecans, walnuts, and pistachios are also great choices because they require less water to grow. Always look for organic nuts.
Sugar Buy local and organic honey and agave as sugar alternatives. Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Sweet ‘N Low are synthetically made and can interfere with your metabolism and hinders the body’s ability to process nutrients.
Oils Cold-pressed organic olive oil uses no chemicals in its extraction practice. Cold-pressed organic coconut oils and avocado oils are also healthy alternatives. Steer clear of palm oils as they add to deforestation.
Coffee Look for “green frog” on the label is a sign of social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Make sure to also look for organic and “fair-trade” labels which ensures the farmers were paid fair wages and the coffee was grown sustainably.
Reprinted with permission from Living with a Green Heart © 2019 by Gay Browne. Published by Citadel Press / Kensington Books