6 ways to make your shopping basket more nature friendly

Chris Kent

Monday 14 August 2017

Seasonal ratatouille at Arne

It's not always easy to make sure the items you pop into your shopping basket are the best for nature. Luckily, our award-winning cafés have some great ideas to share.

Here are their top-tips!

1. Buy fruit and vegetables in season

They’ll be cheaper, more readily available and they won’t have travelled so far. Shortening the travelling distance of the food you buy means less energy is used up in planes, lorries and ships moving it, and less pollution is pumped into the atmosphere. We aim to use seasonal produce in our cafés wherever we can, so you’ll see more root vegetables on our menus in winter and more lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes in summer.

2. Buy wisely 

Avoid unnecessary packaging wherever you can: your carrots will survive alongside the potatoes in your shopping basket! Locally sourced food is usually better for the natural world (cutting down on those ‘food miles’) but that’s not always the case. You should also consider the energy that might be used to produce it. Make the most of food that can easily be grown outdoors in your region at the time of year you’re buying it. Local farm shops are a great place to look for this. Our cafés have great relationships with local farms and suppliers but we use a national food delivery company too, and often it can be more cost (and carbon) efficient to have food delivered by a vehicle that’s coming to our reserves already.

3. Cut down on meat

Many people are now eating less meat for environmental reasons, including deforestation in South America to make way for beef production. When you do buy meat look for those which are produced to higher environmental standards. We have great vegetarian and vegan options on our café menus now. For example at least 60% of our core menu and many of our specials are now meat free.

4. Eat healthily

This can be great for the planet too! Cutting back on processed food, which requires extra energy to produce, is better for you. Eating less meat and more fruit and vegetables is better for you and in many cases better for nature. We know that treats are part of a great day out so we do offer tasty cakes in our cafés, but we always make sure there are healthy options available.

Newport Wetlands café

5. Encourage your children to eat the same as you do.

Cooking different meals for different people at home uses more energy. In our cafés we offer children the same food as adults, just in smaller portions.

6. Look for more nature friendly food. 

This might be certified organic or other labels such as Fair to Nature, Leaf or Pasture Fed. Farms which earn these labels are going the extra mile for wildlife. RSPB cafés serve bird-friendly coffee grown specially for the organisation in plantations in Nicaragua which make space for nature. 

Leading by example

All eleven of the RSPB’s nature reserve cafés have gained at least the Bronze award in the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here scheme serving fresh and local food. Two of these cafés have also attained the Gold Food for Life Served Here award. The award scheme celebrates locally sourced, additive and GM free, sustainable food which meets animal welfare standards and makes healthy eating easy, proving that you can create delicious food that’s nature-friendly too. 

Find out more about how the RSPB gained the awards

Last Updated: Thursday 29 March 2018

Don't just take our word for it

Newport Wetlands cafe staff

Come along your nearest RSPB reserve café and try what's on the menu!

Tagged with: Country: UK Topic: About the RSPB Topic: Getting involved Topic: Green issues Topic: Reserves