How to Enjoy Foods While Supporting Our Planet

Thanksgiving feasts are wonderful, and I enjoy participating in them. However, I find the vast quantities of food that are produced in the US (and Canada) each year stunning.  One educational Food Network Show treats us to views of how foods are manufactured, and it always amazes me when they speak of the numbers.  How can 5 million of something be produced every month, yet I’ve never had one?!

apple pieMore detailed information can be found on the USDA’s Economic Research Service website which gives statistics about the amounts of several hundred human-consumed foods in the United States.  They report that 4,232 million pounds of ice cream were available in the US in 2007, along with 4,461 million pounds of American cheese, and 6,471.5 million pounds of fresh apples.  Imagine the quantities!  My delicious dessert the other evening was merely a microscopic-sized portion of that!

irrigationIt made me wonder what environmental leaders such as the David Suzuki Foundation have to say about it.  If you visit their website and read Small Steps by David Suzuki, you may be impressed by the quantities mentioned.  Apparently, the food we buy and eat accounts for 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions we personally produce.  It takes 550 litres of water to produce enough flour for one loaf of bread, and up to 7,000 litres to produce 100 grams of beef.  And around 90% of all the water we use on this planet goes into global agriculture.

So what is a foodie who wants to support our planet to do?  The David Suzuki Foundation offers some good advice.  Climate-friendly food tends to be seasonal, organic, locally-sourced, and includes less but better quality meat and dairy products.  Eat more vegetables and fruits, particularly organic, that not only use less water but may also reduce your risk of cancer by over 20%.  Look for seafood caught in a sustainable way.

three lemons in vacuum packAlso, consider asking your grocer to limit the amount of packaging and to eliminate unnecessary packaging such as fresh produce wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam.  If you or your children pack a lunch, use reusable containers.  According to the Container Recycling Institute, it takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil each year to make the disposable plastic water bottles used in the United States.  So carry your water (and your coffee/tea) in a travel mug, which not only is reusable but now comes in a wide range of colors and styles.

Being green so often is a conscious choice.  Do you have any favorite food tips you’d like to share?

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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