Beyond the Table: Savoring Sustainability

Mar 5 / CATEGORY: Nutrition

Estimated time read: 3 minutes, 43 seconds

Every March is National Nutrition Month; 2024 is themed “Beyond the Table,” let’s explore this! How does sustainability relate to the food we eat and how do our food choices impact the world on a larger scale? Join us on a journey that will challenge you to think about your food choices on a broader scene as we go beyond the table by learning how to make a difference by choosing sustainable food options, supporting local farmers, and minimizing food waste.

Here are some useful tips to help you move toward a sustainable food future:


1. Cook larger portions and freeze half for later to reduce food waste and have convenient meals later.

Do you ever find yourself staring at your refrigerator, wondering what to do with half-used ingredients like an onion, a carrot, or a stalk of celery? Consider doubling the recipe while cooking and freezing the leftovers for later! Not only will this save time and money, but it is also an excellent way to reduce food waste as well as increase your personal convenience factor. By preparing food for the week and freezing some for later, you can extend the life of your meals and prevent them from ending up in the trash.



2. Experiencing flavor fatigue from meal prep? Swap prepped meals with friends instead!

Meal prepping can be a college student’s survival skill, but flavor fatigue can set in quickly. Gather a group of friends who also meal-prep, plan your meals together, and swap half! By cooking in larger quantities and swapping, you’ll reduce food waste and foster a sense of community, turning a solo dining experience into a shared joy. Studies show that shared meals decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression (Neely, Walton & Stephens, C, 2014).


3. Power up your diet by replacing one meal per week with all plant-based ingredients.

Animal agriculture plays a significant role in climate change by emitting greenhouse gases and straining natural resources. If the entire United States population refrained from eating meat or cheese for just one day per week for an entire year (52 out of 365 days), it would significantly reduce emissions equivalent to not driving 91 billion miles or taking 7.6 million cars off the road (, 2020). By eating one plant-based meal per week, we can help reduce our impact on the planet. The best part? Plant-forward eating is also beneficial for overall health. Read our previous blog post examining the world of being Plant-Forward enjoying the best of both plants and animal intake – make a positive impact without sacrificing your desire for animal-based meat.


4. Choose local: Buy within a 250-mile radius.

In our interconnected world, it’s easy to overlook the significance of locally grown food. The freshest and most nutritious food is often grown in our community despite the grocery store flying in foods from around the world. Many people misunderstand how to eat locally – they think all food must be purchased from farmers’ markets. While this is undoubtedly a great option, it may not always be practical. To continue to frequent your favorite grocery store, aim to purchase produce and animal products within a 250-mile radius. To do this, look for the place of origin on the food label. See the image to the left for an example. This allows you to support local farmers and businesses and contribute towards reducing your carbon footprint. There’s something incredible about devouring juicy oranges or garnishing a meal with fresh herbs grown just a few miles away. This tip increases awareness of where food comes from and encourages seasonal eating. Next time you go grocery shopping, consider this tip and discover what tasty treasures lie close to home.




5. BYO to-go containers when eating out.

Ever wonder about the implications of using to-go disposable plastic or Styrofoam containers? A simple yet impactful solution to revolutionize your takeout game and reduce environmental impact is to bring your own to-go containers when eating out. Throw a compact, reusable container into your bag, ready for sustainable dining. This small act significantly reduces single-use waste and sends a clear message to eateries about the growing demand for eco-friendly practices. It’s the perfect blend of practicality and sustainability!



This post was co-written by:

Jessie Furman, MS, RDN, LD/N and Nirali Patel


Jessie is a Registered Dietitian and Assistant Director for Fitness & Wellness at the University of Florida’s Department of Recreational Sports, where she does individual nutrition counseling and coaching with the UF community. Follow her on Instagram for more nutrition tidbits.

Nirali is a Program Assistant with Nutrition Services at the Department of Recreational Sports. She is a 3rd year Dietetics major with a minor in Health Promotion.



Fight climate change with diet change. Earth Day. (2020, April 15).

Neely, E., Walton, M., & Stephens, C. (2014). Young people’s food practices and social relationships. A thematic synthesis. Appetite, 82, 50–60.