The widespread sustainable food movement: How can you contribute?
Ever heard of organic produce, farmer’s markets, or cage-free eggs? Odds are, you have—the aforementioned list of items has actually evolved into part of our everyday cultural lingo. Although much of our conversation focuses on the health benefits of consuming organic foods, it’s equally as important to acknowledge that trends like these are also advantageous for our planet.
There are a plethora of environmentally friendly habits that have positive impacts on our bodies as well as our earth. Next time you go shopping, remember to bring a reusable bag. Here’s why—the United States uses approximately 100 billion new plastic bags annually, and shockingly, about 12 million barrels of oil are required for this massive production. Unfortunately, only 1% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide, while the remaining bags are disposed in landfills, oceans, or elsewhere in the environment, which has detrimental ramifications. Because plastic bags, which are not biodegradable, release toxic polymer particles into the ocean when exposed to light, nearly 1 million animals die of starvation each year after ingesting plastic bag remnants (and other discarded plastics and trash debris). Another eco-friendly habit that you should adhere to is using reusable water bottles. By doing this, you can not only save money, but also reduce waste, for millions of tons of plastic are utilized for the production plastic water bottles each year.
In order to lower your carbon footprint, try eating locally grown foods. There’s also an additional benefit: eating locally means that the food will be fresher, taste better, and retain more nutrients than foods shipped across the globe. If you want to try another alternative, you can grow your food too, by joining a community garden or even creating a garden in your backyard. Don’t forget about eating organic foods too! Unlike conventional foods, certified organic foods are grown and processed using farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity, without using synthetic pesticides. For more information about organic foods, read my article entitled “Why you should eat organic foods.”
Meat and dairy products
Another tip is to simply eat less meat—when compared to other food products, industrially farmed meat actually has the greatest impact on the environment. Similarly, you should cut back on the amount of dairy products you consume—why? Here’s a shocking fact to put this idea into perspective: the industrial production of one pound of cheese can emit up to 11 pounds of carbon dioxide into the environment. You can also reduce your carbon footprint by buying local and organic meat and dairy, which are not supplemented with antibiotics or growth hormones. By purchasing local foods, you reduce the distance (as well as the energy required) that the food must travel to your plate.
Eating at home
Be sure to use “real” plates, bowls, and utensils to reduce the production of waste in your household (avoid paper plates and plastic cutlery). Furthermore, you should avoid wasting food by “revamping” leftovers—or turning them into “new” meals; this saves the amount of energy it would have taken to cook an entirely different meal. In addition, make a pledge to cook at least one local meal per week or even per month. In other words, you should challenge yourself to cook meals made only with local ingredients. If you want to do something even better for the health of the planet, encourage your friends to do the same.
I strongly advocate the involvement of more people in the widespread sustainable food movement. My aforementioned tips are relatively easy steps to adopt, and you should definitely share them with friends, family members, and neighbors. Take the pledge to go green today—you will be contributing to not only your well-being, but also to the health of our planet.