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Top sustainable foods for your next meal

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DECEMBER 05, 2022

Poke or pizza? Salad or home-cooked? In Berkeley, the food options are plenty, but that often leaves us wondering what to eat for each meal. If you’re indecisive or indifferent, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most sustainable foods on the planet that you can incorporate into your next meal.

Local, organic vegetables and fruits

While fruits and vegetables generally have a low carbon footprint with a few exceptions such as avocados and banana those with an organic label put them at the top of the sustainable food movement. Whether organic foods are better for your body is still a hotly debated topic, but organic almost always means more eco-friendly. Less chemicals are used to grow them, preserving the long-term health of the soil. Be sure to support Berkeley’s farmers markets and pick up a basketful of your favorite seasonal produce!

Local seasonal fish

While overfishing continues to be a severe problem that has come under fire for the past decades, there are certainly sustainable options when it comes to fish. Just make sure to pick the ones that are locally sourced and in season to minimize their carbon footprint. If in doubt, buy your fish directly from the fishermen or ask your local fish seller about the fish’s origins.


These friendly fungi consistently top the list of sustainable foods. Because mushrooms are heterotrophic organisms that absorb nutrients from the soil and other decomposed organic matter, they are extremely low maintenance. Not only do they require little fertilizer and water, but also very little land — one acre can produce up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms. It’s not at all difficult to understand why mushrooms are a popular substitute for meat protein.


Like mushrooms, legumes need very little water to grow. On top of this, they actively nourish the soil by storing nitrogen underground, eliminating the need for fertilizers. These humble superfoods are certainly a bang for your buck, so make sure to pick up a bag of lentils or peas on your next grocery run.


Perhaps we don’t eat mussels often, but it’s very interesting to note that these shellfish appear on almost every list of sustainable foods. Mussels are amazing organisms that grow on lines that farmers string beneath the ocean and obtain nutrients by purifying the water around them. This means they require no land and no feed! And as if that’s not incredible enough, mussels are also mini carbon sinks that remove carbon dioxide from the oceans to grow their shells. Their meaty texture, high protein content and delicious cooking methods make them my first-choice alternative to other less sustainable animal protein.


Here’s yet another superfood on our list of sustainable foods. With a high nutritional value and a large variety of species, seaweed is a cheap and tasty addition to your diet. Seaweed farming is one of the least harmful forms of aquaculture because it simultaneously filters ocean water while obtaining its nutrients from it. And the vast kelp forests beneath our oceans are even more effective carbon sinks than mussels because they grow at a much faster rate.

With a quick Google search, you can easily find places that offer these amazing food options in Berkeley. Whenever I have time, I like to go down to our farmer’s markets that are open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays year-round. Our local sellers are so passionate and knowledgeable about the food they sell. The last time I visited the Saturday Downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market, a stone fruit seller gave me and my friend an entire 10-minute presentation and tasting session when I asked them about which variety of plums I should buy.

Oh, food, glorious food.

Contact Josephine Ng at 


DECEMBER 05, 2022