Eating Right For the Planet
Buying local is always going to be the best choice for the environment, but here are some other things you might not have known about.
1. Eat Local Food
When you eat locally grown food, three things happen. First, you support local farmers. Second, the food is fresher. Third, little energy was used to get it here. Even if you are environmentally conscious and are planning to do things like buy solar panels and ditch your car for a bike, you might be ignoring the damage you're doing to the environment in other ways. For example, purchasing a bunch of bananas every week might seem harmless and normal. It's not that their production stresses the environment, but getting them here uses a lot of fossil fuel.
2. Eat Low Impact Food
Low impact foods don't use many natural resources to grow. You know that almonds are good for you, however the growing of almonds (and many other nuts) uses a lot of water. To make things even worse, most nuts are grown in California orchards. California seems to constantly be enduring drought conditions, so using a lot of water to grow nuts will cause other area crops or trees to go without sufficient water. A better alternative to nuts are seeds. Seeds have just about the same qualities as nuts, such as high protein and fiber, but they have much less of an impact on the environment.
3. Eat Seasonally
You might love blueberries on your cereal in January, but blueberries in nature only ripen in July. It would be alright to buy them frozen, if you really can't do without them, but a better thing would be to only eat what naturally is ready to harvest in your area every month.
That means that unless you live in Florida or California, your produce options might be limited in the dead of winter. In that case, eat what was harvested in the fall and able to be stored over the winter, like local apples. You might miss eating what you want, when you want it, but essentially, you have been spoiled. If you see strawberries in your produce aisle in November, that means they were grown someplace with a warm climate, probably South America. You don't know if pesticides were used, and getting them here used up a lot of energy.
If you wait until spring, you won't be harming the planet and you can enjoy local food to the utmost, knowing you might not have it again for a long time.
4. Eat Vegetarian
Eating meat is not great for the human body. In past generations, meat was saved for special occasions, but now it's an everyday thing in a lot of families. Not only that, but many people eat meat at all three meals of the day. Too much meat can cause cholesterol issues and other illnesses. The meat industry is sickening the earth, as well. Raising livestock creates as much greenhouse gas as every type of vehicle combined. If you have been eating meat your whole life, cutting it out of your diet completely would be hard, but you could try one or two meatless days a week for a start. If you don't know where to begin, try consulting a recipe blog that specializes in meatless meals.
5. Eat Fair Trade
If you are worried that you'll have to give up coffee and chocolate to be green, don't be. Although coffee, tea and cocoa beans don't grow in this country, if you stick with those labeled fair trade, you'll still be doing a good thing for the environment. More developed countries like America, help less developed ones by supporting small farmers and their families through fair trade programs.
You don't need to change all of your eating habits overnight. Just being aware of the harm certain "normal" foods are doing to the environment, might make you stop and think before buying.