It's no secret that global food systems are operating at unsustainable levels. Industrial agriculture yields high quantities of food in the short term, but long term, our planet and its inhabitants pay the price—industrial agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and has countless negative environmental impacts. People all over the world (including farm and factory workers, marginalized groups in developing countries) also suffer from the unjust hierarchies of the food industry.

Thinking about the future of food systems can be discouraging—the language used regarding the global food industry is accusatory of consumers and can make them feel powerless. But there is hope.

Oxfam America, a nonprofit organization working to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice, is a major advocate for sustainable consumption and changing the way we interact with the global food systems. Here are Oxfam's five simple ways you can eat responsibly (including recipes!) and make your diet more sustainable.

1. Save Food

This one is my favorite, because it's so easy and it saves you time and money. Nearly one-third of all food destined for someone's plate ends up in the trash. Help cut food waste by always saving your leftovers. It's easy to turn leftovers into new dishes—try this recipe for skillet chilaquiles when you've got leftover beans, veggies or chicken. 

2. Shop Seasonal

apple, pasture, juice
Yifan Wang

Transportation of food from farm to supermarket can have a huge carbon footprint, depending on where the food is grown and how far it travels. Take time to find out what foods are grown locally and make better choices when you're food shopping.

Here's an easy soup recipe from chef Alice Waters that uses celery root, an under-loved vegetable that is seasonal in fall and winter in many parts of the US.

3. Eat Less Meat

Nicole Lacasse

To be clear, I do not advocate that everyone immediately transition to a vegetarian diet. I realize that that is inaccessible to many people and I think there are better alternatives to simply ending animal agriculture. That said, animal agriculture is a major contributor of greenhouse gases and scaling back our meat consumption would help to decrease carbon emissions from that industry. Cutting meat from your diet one or two days per week is easy—I recommend trying this kale and tomato stew recipe or this black bean burger recipe for a hearty vegetarian meal. 

4. Support Farmers

An outrageously small percentage of the money you pay for food actually makes it to the people who grow it. Use your consumer power to purchase foods that support farmers by choosing fairly traded products—but make sure to read up on the various fair trade labels before buying. 

5. Cook Smart

Cooking uses a lot of energy—sometimes more than is necessary. Saving energy can be a result of simple changes, like putting a lid on your pot of water and reducing the heat as soon as it starts to boil, and turning off kitchen appliances when they're not in use. And eating raw foods doesn't use energy at all! Try this Jamie Oliver pear and apple salad recipe—you don't even have to turn on the oven.

Changing your consumption habits isn't going to magically fix the global food system for the better. There's still a lot of work to be done. But choosing to eat responsibly makes a big difference if everyone chips in. Do your part!

To learn more about hosting your own Eat for Good dinner or connect with Oxfam on campus visit here, or email