Fuel for the Future: Sustainable Foods with Wolfram Language
National Nutrition Month® is here, and the theme is “Fuel for the Future.” The future of food is sustainability, which we will explore through Wolfram Language. What is sustainable eating? It’s choosing the right foods, reducing food waste, eating local foods in season and even growing your own garden. Sustainability can lead to personal and planetary health.
The Power of Plants
Many plants are high in nutrients and low in environmental impact. They produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and help prevent soil erosion. Use FoodCompassPlot for a diagram of the major nutrients as a percentage of recommended daily value for these powerful plants:
FoodCompassPlot can analyze your favorite recipes too. Here, we looked at a homemade tahini sauce popular for drizzling over nutrient-packed veggie bowls:
Next, we did the same thing with our favorite peanut sauce recipe. You can see that the two sauces are similar in calories, carbohydrates and total fat, but notice the difference in protein between the tahini sauce and the peanut sauce:
Beans and other legumes are good plant-based sources of protein, fiber and minerals, including iron, potassium and magnesium. They are rich in nutrients, with a lower environmental impact than animal sources. Whether you prefer detailed tabular data or informative charts, you can explore the extensive database of beans and other plant-based foods:
Legumes are nitrogen fixers. They take nitrogen from the air and transform it into fertilizer, which improves soil health and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers. Legumes do this through a symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobium. Use species data to investigate Rhizobium and other symbiotic bacteria:
High Nutrients, Low Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions from fish and seafood can be from multiple sources: fueling the boats and fishing equipment, processing and transporting the daily catch, and manufacturing feed for fish farming. Promoting foods with high nutrient density and low greenhouse gas emissions is key to sustainability. Use RankChart for vibrant, informative ranking of fish and seafood varieties:
For sustainable eating, buy local foods in season. By eliminating long-distance transportation and storage, the food will be fresher and more flavorful, with more nutrients still intact. Best of all, you’re supporting local farmers and their families:
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to eat sustainably, enjoy the outdoors and teach your family valuable skills. Which plants are most likely to thrive where you live? The USDA has divided the United States into 13 plant hardiness zones, based on their average annual minimum winter temperature. Each zone represents a 10-degree Fahrenheit range. Numbered from 1 to 13, Zone 1 is the coldest and Zone 13 is the warmest:
Turn your food scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil by composting. Compost is full of nutrients important for plant growth, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium:
Love Your Leftovers
Eating leftovers means less food waste. Wolfram Language can help you safely store those leftovers by providing the maximum recommended refrigerated and frozen storage times for a wide variety of foods:
As you can see, most cooked leftovers that are refrigerated promptly can be stored for three to four days.
Insects on the Menu
Edible insects have been a traditional food source in many cultures for thousands of years. Now they are gaining wider acceptance as an alternative, sustainable protein source. The most common edible insects are crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms and ants:
To Learn More
From beans to bugs, I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at food sustainability through Wolfram Language. To learn more about sustainable eating, visit the USDA website.
Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for free resources about National Nutrition Month® 2023.