As a foreigner coming to Belgium, one of the first ‘checks’ I needed to make on my expat list was finding organic grocers and restaurants in Brussels. In my search, I discovered that Belgium has whole-heartedly embraced the au naturel food movement and has a well-established organic scene. Not only is Belgium one of the strictest European countries when it comes to monitoring the production of organic food, but it also has an abundance of delightful little restaurants and markets hidden all over its capital city, just waiting to serve you!
Conventional household cleaning products often contain ingredients that are harmful to both the environment and health. Sure, there are eco-friendly alternatives that are safer to use, but did you know that you can use certain food items in your kitchen to clean the house? Not only are they cheap and safe, they work great too! If you have these three ingredients in your kitchen, you can easily and effectively clean your house without the need to use a lot of commercial cleaning products!
Sweden is developing standards to help consumers make conscious choices about the impact of their decisions on global warming. Products with at least 25% greenhouse gas savings will be marked in each food category, starting with plant production, dairy and fish products. The label is a joint initiative by the Federation of Swedish Farmers, two food labelling organisations and various dairy and meat co-operatives. Read more..
get access to a weekly organic fruit and vegetable basket in your neighborhood!
There are many reasons to do this:
- For your health: you will get a nice amount of fruit and vegetables every week, they are as fresh as they can be and they are organic and to say it with Michael Pollan's words: this is REAL food;
- For the environment: buying locally reduces your ecological footprint avoiding food miles (transport of your food) - even the fair trade ones come by boat which is less polluting than airplanes - it reduces packaging (no plastic involved);
- For your taste: nothing tastes as good as these fresh and organic treasures;
- For the wellbeing of traditional farmers versus the big food industry: both the local ones and the fair trade partners in developing countries;
- For biodiversity: some of the vegetables are almost forgotten and have become unavailable in our supermarkets, but taste lovely and are very nutritious.
Check out a selection of addresses, recipe books, season calendars and more in our article.
Monthly eco-challenge: Eat less meat!
The "eco-foodprint" of eating meat has been underestimated and here are just a few examples:
- Cattle are producing 18% of all green house gases.
- 78% of all agricultural land is used for cattle (fodder and grazing).
- More than 2/3 of all agricultural production in Europe is used for fodder.
- To produce 1 kg of meat, you need 15.000 litres of water, while 1 kg of grain or potatoes only need 1.000 litres.
- Water pollution, deforestation, energy use, air pollution, loss of biodiversity, more waste and antibiotics in our food are but a few other negative effects on the environment (see the FAO document “Livestock’s Long Shadow” for more details).
- The well-being of the animals has often been totally neglected, especially in big farming industries
What can you do?
- Eat organic meat and meat from small-scale farming where the well-being of the animals has been taken into account.
- Eat less meat and replace it with alternatives like fish (see our sustainable fish guides), beans, peas, lentils, tofu, seitan, cheese, eggs or other sources of proteine.
- Alternate between different types of meat (the bigger the animal, the more it pollutes).
- Take smaller portions of meat when you eat it and "beef up" your plate with veggies instead.
- Try out all kinds of vegetarian dishes and be creative when you barbeque.
- Join in with the Donderdag Veggie Dag ("Thursday Veggie Day", introduced in Ghent by the Ethical Vegetarian Alternative)
- Or just go vegetarian!
If you want to know more on the impact of your diet on our planet, read Jane Goodall’s “Harvest for Hope. A Guide to Mindful Eating”. The book is also sold at Sunbeams events.
This article was originally published in the June 2009 edition of the Sunbeams newsletter.
Some organic farmers prepare a selection of their vegetables and/or fruit in “baskets” on a weekly basis. The baskets comprise mainly locally grown vegetables and fruit, but sometimes (e.g. in winter time) the local ones are complemented by some bio (often fair trade) ones from abroad. The local ones are harvested and selected by the farmer each week. You don’t always know beforehand which vegetables or fruit you’ll get (Reason2.be will send you an email two days in advance specifying what you'll get), but they’re always in harmony with the seasons and freshly picked – and they taste delicious!
There are various suppliers to choose from in Belgium, each with their own payment method (upfront or after delivery), ordering system (online, by phone, ad hoc, monthly or even via annual membership), and place of delivery (a pick-up place or delivery to your doorstep). We put everything you need to know to get started is in this article.
Give something back
We, at reason2.be, are always thinking about how we can operate the business more efficiently and ecologically. Our grocery home delivery service lends itself perfectly to collecting as well as delivering. So we have come up with several ways to utilize the deliveries for more than just food delivery. We collect items for recycling, reusing, disposing and trading. The ‘sustainable services’ we offer are a non-profit element of the business, and give our customers the chance to give something back. The reason2.be ‘sustainable services’ are as follows.
If you've been wondering which fish you can still buy with good conscience, without depleting the ocean from endangered species and knowing that your fish was caught in a sustainable way without harming other sea animals, then this small step is for you. An excellent ressource is www.goedevis.nl - that is, if you know what the fish is called in Dutch!
If you buy your fruit and vegetables from the supermarket or corner shop, it can be difficult to know which of them are in season right now. Season calendars give you an overview of the local seasons of the vegetables and fruit available here in Belgium. They are either in Dutch or French (or both of them), so you'll want to know how what you want to buy is called in Dutch or French (See, you'll increase your language skills along the way!)
You can download one of these season calendar and hang it up in your kitchen: Velt (PDF download) - Brussels Observatory for Sustainable Consumption (PDF download) or the one from Research and Information Center of the Consumer Organisations (PDF download).
Alternatively, you can order a handy hard copy for your handbag (or reusable shopping bag) at the Brussels Environment Institute.
For our list of Organic Food Shops and Markets click here.
Have you thought about the difference in taste of a nice deep-red strawberry in its high season or a pale pink one in wintertime? But it is not only a problem of taste… Did you know that 1 kg of strawberries transported from Spain to Belgium causes 2,5 kg of CO2 emissions and that 80 tons of out-of-season strawberries are imported to Belgium each week? While local strawberries harvested in season produce only 0,2 kg CO2? Did you know that transport by airplane generates 177 times more greenhouse gases (GHG) than shipping does? And that a cooled truck is almost as bad as an airplane when it comes to GHG?