The 11 Healthiest Foods for the Planet

Tread more lightly on the planet, and rack up a few nutrition bonus points while you do.

By Emily Main and Leah Zerbe


Here’s an Earth Day challenge for you: Eat. Eat a lot. And, specifically, eat a lot of these 11 foods, which are actually doing the planet a favor every time they find their way into your shopping. How is that possible? Because instead of simply consuming more water, pesticides, or fossil fuels like most highly processed foods in modern American diets, these foods support healthy ecosystems while they’re doing your body good. They help farmers stick with traditional, planet-friendly farming practices while discouraging toxic chemicals that pollute you and your drinking water. So this Earth Day, revamp your diet with these über-nutritious, tree-hugging foods.

11 best foods for the planetFair-Trade Quinoa

Benefit for Your Body: This ancient South American “pseudo-grain” (called that because it’s technically a seed) is packed with more protein than any other grain, and on top of that, it’s a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, acids your body can’t produce on its own to build muscle and create more protein.

Planetary Perk: Supporting organic quinoa farmers could save the Andes. Growing international demand for this supergrain is leading farmers to abandon traditional methods of quinoa production and turn to larger farms that will increase the need for pesticides and mechanized farming, according to a recent study by Bolivian agricultural researchers. Traditional quinoa farmers rotate crops to restore the soil and use llamas to restore and fertilize the land, says Kerstin Lindgren, campaign director of the Fair World Project at the Organic Consumers Association. Fair-trade producers pay farmers better prices for their crops, allowing them to stick with these traditional methods, she says. “Quinoa is a great, very nutritious food,” she says. “We need to be paying fair prices that allow farmers to take care of the land.”