MNN interviews wildlife biologist and animal expert Jeff Corwin about food's connection to natural resources and the ways his family has made changes to be more responsible. (Meredith Darlington/MNN and Mike Lindsay/MNN)

Related on MNN: Watch the first part of this interview.


Jeff Corwin: Well, I think food has a connection to natural resources because that’s what sustains our food and food is what sustains us. It’s where we hunt our food, where we harvest our food, where we grow our food, the landscape around us, whether it be water or earth or forest. And for me, I’ve really focused in in my life, now that I have a family, we’ve really looked at trying to eat local products making a genuine effort to get the foods that we eat from people who produce those foods sustainably, focusing in on renewable resources, actually having my daughters and my family become a part of the harvesting process by growing some of our own foods. You know, you can go to, you know, a fancy organic supermarket, you know, go to your whole paycheck and…

Vanessa: It’s still shipped in from Chile.

Jeff Corwin: And it’s still, and those blueberries may be organic but they were in a, you know, in the bowels of a plane and burned all that fuel. How sustainable is that? And I love blueberries. I eat blueberries every day. But, so you know what I do now? I eat frozen blueberries that we collected and, I try anyways, and, you know, it’s little decisions like that that make up, that become a part of the bigger formula of conservation. The most dangerous thing to conservation is apathy and feeling powerless. If you realize you are powerful as a consumer, you’re powerful in how you behave politically and civically and how you interact with the living things and ecology around you, that puts you in a better place.

Vanessa: What do you tell your daughters or what kind of advice do you give folks to empower themselves or to be empowered to make a difference?

Jeff Corwin: Well, there is lots of good news out there. The good news is not with climate change. That is scary. We’re now just thinking about it and it’s gonna be big. I think it’s gonna be big. And you know what? I hope I’m wrong. I really do. I would, I could happily swallow my pride.

With all that challenge, I think the good news is, I believe our nation has a fresh start. You know? We have a fresh new way for us to look at the way we handle our natural resources. I think politically there’s been some great changes that will provide opportunity for conservation and an appropriate sustainable management of natural resources. Good news is that there is species in my life that were almost gone that have recovered. Black-footed ferret have gone from, you know, a dozen animals to 2000. Bald eagles went from 450 pair to 10,000 pair in the lower 48. American alligators went from a few thousand to over a million. They’re now a resource again. They’re open and they are accessible resource when appropriately managed. In some areas, wild fisheries are really bad.

Where I live in New England, fisheries are really doing much better. The water in my backyard is cleaner than it was 30 years ago where I live in New England. The Charles River is cleaner. So there is lots of good news and that good news is great because it lets us see the possibilities and see that, you know, you can take an animal where there’s only two and recover that species. You can take a habitat that’s been absolutely compromised and reclamate it and restore it. The secret is that a lot of people don’t realize, it’s far cheaper, far easier, and far more quick to protect what you have than to try to restore it later.

It’s much more easy to protect a river that may have some issues and deal with it proactively today than to approach that river two or three decades or a decade from now and make it into a Superfund. There’s a reason why they call them Superfund projects. But there is lots and lots of good news; just the way people are thinking, the way my daughter is behaving, the way she looks at the world, and not because of me, but because of where she goes to school. But I think the most important thing is everybody needs to be held accountable and that can be very powerful to have that responsibility.

Jeff Corwin: Hey guys, I’m Jeff Corwin from Animal Planet, the Discovery Network’s Food Network, and now NBC, and you’re watching -- what is it? Mother Nature Network.