Eating healthy and sustainable food

A child biting into an apple

Producing food is big business. To grow, make, transport, store and cook our food is an energy intensive process, and unsurprisingly, one which generates greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. All in all, food is estimated to account worldwide for 31% of greenhouse gas emissions.

By making healthy, sustainable food choices and eating greener we can all play our part in helping Scotland reach its net zero target. Net zero is when the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we put into the atmosphere and the amount we’re able to take out adds up to zero. Plus, if we eat well, we feel better too. A healthy, balanced diet can help us maintain a healthy weight and keep us fighting fit. 

Eat local

Food that’s grown locally has less distance to travel to get to our plate, meaning less carbon emissions from things like transportation and storage. With Scotland famed the world over for its delicious produce, from fruit and vegetables to meat, fish and diary, eating local can be both tasty and better for the environment. It also helps support the local economy and hard-working local producers, which is especially important in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Illustration of a shop

Check out local farm produce box schemes, revisit your butcher, grocer or fishmonger and pay more attention to the source of your food by simply checking the label. And if you're eating in season, local food, you'll often find it's cheaper, tastier and easier to find than other kinds of fruit and vegetables.

Find out more about Scotland’s food and drink

Eat with the seasons 

Food that’s grown in season, at the right time of the year, takes less energy to produce as it doesn’t need to be grown in heated greenhouses. It’s also often grown locally, which in turn means less emissions, as it won’t have travelled as far to get to your plate. Not only that, but food that’s been grown at the right time of year is bursting with flavour. Just think of strawberries in the summertime or root veg in winter months. Choosing in season food makes for tasty, nutritious meals that have less environmental impact.

Find out what food’s in season when in Scotland

If you’ve got fruit trees or hedges in your garden or local area, leave the fallen fruit or berries for wildlife, stand back and watch the local wildlife lap it up. If supply is plentiful have a go yourself and try a bit of foraging.

Grow your own food

By growing your own food you can cut down on food miles, trips to the shops and wasteful packaging, all of which generate harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. Not only is it satisfying to grow your own food, but you’ll be playing your part in helping Scotland get to net zero by reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.

Illustration of people planting, harvesting and cooking

You don’t need to have large garden to grow your own food either. Herbs can be planted in window boxes and if you have a small patio space you could grow some potted fruit or veg. By growing your own food, you’ll also be eating in season – here’s some suggestions of what to grow when:

  • Spring – potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, leeks, sweetcorn, courgettes, squash
  • Summer – chicory, pumpkins
  • Autumn – raspberries, gooseberries, broad beans
  • Winter – apple, rhubarb, onion

If you don’t have access to a garden, you can apply to your local authority for an allotment, help out at a community garden or find a local garden share scheme. Make sure that you follow the coronavirus guidance for the safe use of community gardens and allotments.

Bag with fruits