Yes, You CAN Help Slow Climate Change – By Eating Well-Chosen (Yummy) Foods!
This is a Guest Post by Kelly Shepherd
When people think about doing their part for the environment, some of the immediate responses are recycling, taking shorter showers, turning off lights and a few others. While these things are essential to improving overall sustainability, they are only a small piece of a much bigger puzzle. A bigger area of your life that you can reform to have a stronger impact on climate change is something you may not have previously considered:- eating.
Most of us think of eating as a means of staying physiologically healthy, but have you thought about the real effects that a healthier and more sustainable diet can have on your carbon footprint? Unhealthy or uninformed eating habits have a tremendously negative impact on the environment and on the climate.
In an era where climate change is somewhat unrecognized, now is the most important time to do your part in helping the planet thrive through the generations your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be living in. Like France, we can all make steps toward becoming the #1 country in food sustainability. Here’s how to help slow climate change – by eating.
Eating and Its Effects
The environmental impact of eating encompasses many things surrounding food production, including processing, distribution and consumption. All of these things have something in common in that they all contribute to the negative effects humans are having on the climate. While mega-corporations like General Mills, Kellogg’s and Nestle control much of what American families eat, people have few choices when it comes to choosing a more sustainable diet.
Factory farming has terrible effects on climate change, increasing carbon emissions, abusing precious natural resources, and causing vast farming and agricultural lands to be infertile due to overgrazing. Corporate farms all over the country are using machinery that guzzle fuel, fertilizers that poison wildlife, and inhumane means for raising and slaughtering animals.
Not to mention the contributions factory farming has on wetlands and forests. Wetlands all over the nation are drying up, and forests throughout the world are being knocked down to better serve the needs of corporate farmers. Factory farming accounts for nearly 99 percent of all animals raised and slaughtered in the United States.
Do Your Part to Slow Climate Change – By Eating
There is something you can do, however, to help lessen this impact and change the way Americans rely on food. There is the obvious thing to do: eat less meat, but there are so many other things we can do to make eating a smaller contributor to climate change.
Here is a list of changes you can make to your eating and grocery shopping habits to help slow climate change – by eating:
- Local and organic produce: This helps lower the travel time between farms, stores, and your home, reducing carbon emissions. Organic food is also grown using natural fertilizers and ingredients.
- Less meat: And this means all meat, from pork to beef, and from poultry to fish. Far too much meat product is wasted each year because not enough of what is produced is being consumed.
- Limit your dairy intake: Dairy production requires a lot of fuel and emits a lot of carbon to create, store and transport.
- Don’t buy processed foods: This sounds impossible, but processed foods require a lot of energy to make, and they are really quite bad for your health.
- Properly dispose of food waste: Composting is a great way to turn old veggies and plant matter, include some household items, into fertilized soil for your garden.
What IS Good to Eat for Climate Change?
There are LOTS of great things to eat!
Eating lots of local, organic fresh fruit and veggies is great for your health – and for the planet
Oatmeal keeps you feeling full and helps to keep cholesterol levels in check. Growing oats also sequesters carbon and reduces emissions. Often viewed as “old-fashioned”, if we eat more oatmeal, farmers will grow more.
SRI rice is a new way of growing rice organically – and farmers around the world are seeing record-setting yields achieved with fewer pesticides, less methane and 70 percent less water than conventional methods! You can buy SRI rice in the US from Lotus Foods under their More Crop Per Drop product line.
Perennial grains (grains such as wheat or barley that re-grow year-after-year without the need for replanting) are great for climate. (Big seed companies don’t like them though!). Look for perennial wheat in bread, for example.
If you drink coffee, buy shade-grown, fair trade coffee. It sequesters carbon, reduces deforestation, and helps farmers earn a living wage.
Seaweed, when farmed sustainably, needs very few chemicals, helps to reduce overfishing (due to the alternative income it provides local communities), sequesters carbon, increases coral productivity and reduces ocean acidification. In the US look for Ocean Approved kelp cubes (for smoothies) and seaweed salads.
It IS Possible to Help Slow Climate Change – by Eating!
Every time you make a good eating choice, you are showing random acts of kindness to the planet – and they will be well received. The Earth will thank you and show you gratitude by allowing the sun to shine over your family barbecues, create swells on your surfing beaches, and hold light displays over Alaska.
Go a Step Further
Aside from everyday changes to your eating and lifestyle routine, there will always be more you can do to ensure the health of your planet and your atmosphere. You can stop purchasing devices that require batteries; you can buy a car that is energy efficient or simply ride your bike everywhere; and you can collect all the glass and rubbish from your street or area and have it recycled.
You can also become more educated about the safety of the planet by attending seminars and conferences on climate change; you can volunteer in your community to learn how to help your neighbors; and you can join the peace corps and do your part for humanity.
There are an infinite amount of ways you can help save our planet. The hardest thing will be making the change and sticking to it — but you can be assured that it will all be worth it in the end.
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Do you consider the climate when you shop? Let me know in the comments below.
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