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In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the impact of our food industry on our planet and the people on it. With the world population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the demand for food is expected to rise by 60%. Our current food production and consumption practices are not sustainable, and the consequences are already being felt. Climate change, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity, and food insecurity are only some issues we’re facing globally. As meal prep becomes more and more popular, how can your company help support sustainable practices and what are the challenges you might face?
The average American has only five hours of free time a day, and we all know how hard it can be to squeeze in 3 square meals. With the increasing demand for both convenience and healthier eating options, meal prep companies offer a solution to those looking to eat nutritious, balanced meals without sacrificing time or taste. However, your business model might rely heavily on pre-packaged and processed foods, making it difficult to find the balance between convenience, cost-effectiveness, and sustainable, responsible practices.
What does it mean to have Sustainable Food Practices?
Sustainable food practices refer to methods of food production, processing, distribution, and consumption that aim to reduce the negative impact of the food industry on the environment, and future generations. This can be done by promoting the use of renewable resources, reducing waste and pollution, supporting local communities, and using fair trade practices. Considering the entire food cycle, from farm to table, and seeking to ensure that the food we eat is not only nutritious and delicious, but environmentally and socially responsible can help us as well. Some examples of sustainable practices are:
- Sourcing ingredients from local and organic farms
- Minimizing food waste by using the same ingredients in multiple dishes
- Using biodegradable or reusable packaging materials
- Offering reusable or refillable containers for customers
- Compost food scraps by participating in municipal programs or starting your own compost for gardening
- Reducing energy consumption by using energy-efficient equipment
- Encouraging customers to recycle packaging materials
- Donating leftover food to local charities or food banks
Implementing some or all these practices can benefit not only our own communities, but the whole planet. We’re strongly benefited when we reduce food waste and keep single use plastics out of our landfills. Additionally, sustainable food practices can lead to healthier diets by promoting the consumption of fresh, whole foods and reducing the intake of highly processed, unhealthy foods. Overall, we can all help create a more resilient and equitable food system, benefiting both people and the planet, just by making a few changes.
How can your business start making more sustainable choices?
First and foremost, try sourcing your ingredients locally and seasonally. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation and refrigeration, while supporting your local economy. You can also boost your impact even more by incorporating plant-based options into your menu, reducing the negative environmental effects of meat production.
Another big step in the right direction is switching to eco-friendly packaging materials, such as compostable or biodegradable containers where possible. Luckily, there are many options available for sustainable packaging, with more being developed all the time! Here are just some of the most popular options today:
- Biodegradable plastic made from plant-based materials, such as cornstarch or potato starch
- Compostable paper packaging made from recycled paper pulp or agricultural fibers, such as bamboo or sugarcane bagasse
- Compostable molded fiber packaging made from recycled paper, cardboard, or sugarcane fibers
- Bio-plastics made from bio-based materials, such as PLA (polylactic acid) or PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate), which can break down in industrial composting facilities
- Compostable bags made from materials like cornstarch or potato starch, which can be used for food waste collection and composting
- Reusable containers made from durable materials like stainless steel, glass, or silicone, which can be washed and reused multiple times
- Edible packaging made from materials such as seaweed or potato starch, which can be safely consumed along with the food
With so many options available, food prep companies have many choices to make. Your meal prep company can have a significant impact on sustainable food practices. By implementing eco-friendly packaging, sourcing locally grown produce, and minimizing food waste, you can help can reduce your company’s carbon footprint and promote sustainability. The future of meal prep companies and sustainability looks promising, as more consumers prioritize eco-friendly options and demand transparency in food sourcing and packaging.