What’s good for the planet is good for us, too. That’s why when it comes to food, you should know how your choices affect both your planet and your body.
Each package from the grocery store, every dinner plate, and every forkful of vittles we bring to our lips has some impact on our environment. And the more we learn the truth about pollution, climate change and preventable ecological damage, the more people are choosing the foods that cause the least destruction.
So how can you hop on board the green food revolution? First and formost, think organic. Non-organic food has pesticides, which pollute the air and water that all plants and animals (including us) need to survive. The runoff from farms that use these pesticides ends up in groundwater, rivers and other water sources, which then can carry the toxic chemicals just about anywhere. We also end up eating these pesticides in our foods. Yuck.
The second rule is to buy local. In fact, many conservationists say that buying local trumps buying organic, if the organic food came from halfway around the world. The fuel used to ship that brick of cheddar cheese from the UK to our home shores coughs out an awful lot of dirty exhaust. Opt for the California cheese instead if you dwell in the West, or the Wisconsin variety if you’re a Midwesterner.
Speaking of cheese, let’s talk about animal products. Tasty as they may be, these are the least efficient (and most environmentally toxic) foods of all. Beef is the worst offender. Half of all the grains in America are grown to feed cattle instead of humans. What a waste! Then, gallons of water and lots of energy are spent in meat processing. Not to mention the fact that cows are tortured along the way. Luckily, we live in a country where nutritious foods are bountiful, and we can get all of our protein nourishment from plant products like beans, seitan, tempeh and soy. Cheese is my personal weakness, but I’m training myself to eat less.
Finally, watch the packaging. The U.S. generates more than a billion pounds of trash a day, and much of that comes from food packaging. We can fix that grotesque number by choosing foods that don’t have excess wrapping. Go for the bulk bag of nuts instead of the individually-bagged portions. The same goes with water bottles and chips. Single-serve lunch? Just say no. Also, be sure to look for recyclable packaging instead of plastics, which leach chemicals and don’t dissolve well.
It’s pretty simple: just be conscious about what you eat, and don’t be afraid to learn the facts. Just a bit of thought can go a long way towards the fitness of our planet and our selves.
Featured photo by CEBImagery.com