On the joy of eating sustainably in Singapore

When did sustainability become such a chore? Although I’ve been dabbling in sustainability for 10 years, I still occasionally wonder whether I need a PhD to know which items are recyclable and why some bins combine paper and plastics and some don’t.

When it comes to food and eating sustainably, UN FAO’s definition of sustainable diets…

Those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations.”

…induces a headache. Not only do I have to grasp four concepts but the effort can substantially diminish the pleasure I get from eating or worse, lead to situations such as this one:

At MullenLowe salt, we’re all slightly obsessed with making the complex simple and the simple compelling. We also believe that we can drive positive change through communications. And because many of us live in Singapore, you won’t find it hard to believe we discuss food from dawn till dusk.

Which is why we’ve compiled some cool food apps to help you eat smarter and more sustainably in Singapore (and be able to say why). You’re welcome.

  1. shiokfarm.com

Created by a French mum when she realized the organic pear she was feeding her toddler cost $6, ShiokFarm bundles families who commit to buying a farmer’s entire production. Knowing her revenue is secured, the farmer can offer regionally-grown organic veggies and fruits at a very competitive price, straight from the farm to your plate. You can sign up to receive different weekly bags, most of which contain organic produces which otherwise tend to have the highest levels of pesticide residue (the so-called Dirty Dozen). Each bag contains roughly 60% vegetables and 40% fruits from Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand, and occasionally a few items from outside of SEA.

Why is this sustainable? Buying local, seasonal and environmentally friendly food from local farms benefits wildlife and the countryside, minimises the energy used in food production, transport and storage, and helps protect the local economy.

  1. Happy Cow

Happy Cow is an award-winning app that allows you to search for vegan or vegetarian restaurants in Singapore or anywhere in the world. Besides discovering local restaurants and reviews, you can also search for healthy recipes or add your own. And if you want to feel super virtuous, check out their veg topics section where you can learn how your food choices and eating habits can help the environment.

Why is this sustainable? Eating less meat and dairy and consuming more vegetables and fruit, grains and pulses helps reduce health risks and greenhouse gases.

  1. Treatsure

I love the name of this app as it promotes treating food as treasure. Its founder was prompted to address the issue of food waste when he witnessed his family dump expired food from the freezer. By looking at the problem more closely, he found out that, in Singapore, an eye-popping 790,000 tons of food was wasted in 2015, a near 50% increase over a decade. Through this online reservation platform, local F&B brands sell their surplus food at a 20 to 30 percent discount, usually towards the end of the day.  You can reserve these items through the app and head to the store within 25 minutes to pay.

Why is this sustainable? Aiming to be waste-free by reducing food waste saves the energy, effort and natural resources used to produce food and dispose of it, as well as money.

4.     MCS Good Fish Guide

I hope by now you belong to the 82% of Singaporeans who, according to a WWF study, have not consumed shark fin for at least a year – whether it’s because you like sharks or are just keeping up with the latest culinary trends. Yet sharks are only one of the 150 types of seafood we consume. In the Good Fish guide, you can search for a specific type of fish or seafood and find information on how it is farmed and fished and its overall sustainability rating. Expect to impress at your dinner party by knowing what fisheries you should be buying from, what seafood is in season and delighting with recipes for all sorts of varieties.

Why is this sustainable? Selecting fish only from sustainable sources will help ensure future generations are still able to delight in eating fish and seafood.

Aleksandra Barnes
by Aleksandra Barnes
Aleksandra Barnes oversees Singapore’s sustainability offering and provides high-level strategic consulting to clients focused on building their businesses through positive social and environmental impact.