Start with eating right to save the environment
World Environment Day is a good time to begin thinking about the environmental consequences of our food choices.
- Total Shares
What we eat can have an impact on the future of our planet. It can save it, or push it further down the pit.
This innocuous act (of eating) is not that innocent after all. We try to eat right for the sake of our health, but miss the point that our environment dramatically impacts our health too. The fact is that we live in toxic, climate-challenged times, and no amount of (just) nutrition can save us. The connect is clear: we need to consciously take steps to take care of our environment via right food choices to avoid deteriorating our health.
Besides this self-centred reason, there is a need to think about the simple deed of feeding the world, and our responsibility towards it.
How we eat and our food choices directly affect our ability/capability to grow the food, and unfortunately we have been steadfastly only depleting this asset every waking (and eating) moment.
Have fewer of packaged foods if you can't do away with them.
Every irresponsible food choice is contributing disastrously towards an increasingly hungry world. How's that for your conscience?
About time we wake up to the fact that eating right not only means focussing on nutrition, but also encouraging and consciously practising dietary sustainability, and ensuring there's good food not for the living, but also for the generations to come (difficult to even fathom (why think that far), but important to do).
So eat what is good for the future of our planet. And our people.
Actually some really simple steps help:
Eat fewer of the packaged, highly-processed foods. It's proven that they are bad for health (sugar, salt, preservatives, myriad chemicals, et al), but besides this red flag, the reason to avoid them is that the disposable plastic packaging they come in never degrades, and is naturally bad for the planet.
Avoid meat, to reduce carbon footprint.
At least look for products with minimal packaging, like unwrapped produce or meat straight from the butcher. Avoid bottled water too for the same reason. How difficult can it be to carry water from home!
Reduce your meat intake, to cut your diet-driven carbon footprint massively. Livestock production leaves in its wake a huge carbon footprint. A big reason for this is that meat is disproportionate in its thirst for water: beans and lentils require five gallons of water per gram of protein produced, chicken nine gallons, and beef 29.6.
So try to get your protein more from protein-packed vegetables and legumes. No one is asking you to go meat-free, but just toning down portions and frequency is good enough. Maybe follow a 70:30 (vegetarian: non-vegetarian) ratio.
It's a good idea to go slightly easy on nuts too as they too are water guzzlers (require more than six times the water needed to produce equivalent protein from black beans, lentils, and chickpeas).
Also, fruit is the way to go, as fruit crops yield the highest pound yield per acre, so are very environment friendly.
Go organic. Now this decision may not prove practical or wallet friendly for everyone, plus the definition of organic can be a little confusing. But they do offer big pay offs to the environment. So may be one can begin by making small switches. Find out which foods are most worth buying organic, and buy just those. Every bit counts.
As far as possible go local and eat seasonal. This is possibly the best way to lower your carbon footprint when it comes to what you eat. This way fewer trucks and vehicles would need to travel long distances to deliver exotic, foreign foods to grocery stores in your area. Sabja instead of chia seeds. Get the drift. Demand fuels supply.
There's enough incentive otherwise too: local food is fresher — and therefore tastes better and retains more nutrients too. Check out what's growing nearby right now and try to plate that more. Also support restaurants that purchase their products from locally-owned markets.
Try to make most of leftovers. Photo: Love For Olive
And why not grow some food too. Begin with herbs, easy veggies. And finally strictly reduce waste and also find ways to revamp leftovers.
Instead of dumping leftovers in the trash, turn them into new meals. Every step, however small, counts. Not too much to ask for. Is it?
After all it is our own environment we are talks g about, not someone else's.