In our efforts to become more earth conscious and natural, the most gratifying has to be making changes in the way we eat. Not only does it help the planet, lower our carbon footprint, take some of the heat off of animals but it also helps local markets, adds variety to our lifestyle, is fantastic for our overall health and takes some pressure off the wallet. I’m not kidding when I say it has measurable positive effect on us all the way around.
Now, this is an age old diet and approach to eating that has worked for previous generations. You’ve probably heard a lot of it from doctors in the past, without realizing that it is not only good for you but for the planet, too. And since it is age old and was developed in slower times when society was smaller and less complicated, I have made some adjustments to fit modern day lifestyles. My suggestions are simple and easy to follow. Why not start today?
First Of All: Eat Local Food!
This should cost you less in the long run, buying from local farmers. This lessens travel, delivery, packaging and auctioning expense. This also requires smaller warehouses and an overall smaller investment for local producers, encouraging that market to expand. What’s better than fresh food right off the farm? That’s what you will get when you buy local and not from some supplier overseas. Food from factory farming and bio engineering just can’t be as good as the real thing. Think about it. And you have a better chance of holding local producers responsible in the event of a mistake like bad food or accidental mislabeling than you do when you deal with big international companies.
Eat Seasonal Food!
This is a real no brainer. The kind of huge farms it takes to grow non seasonal food in areas that don’t normally support that food requires a huge investment that has to be passed along to the consumer. And even more so now that gas prices are zooming upwards and trucking is nearly a luxury. Food that is grown in the proper season in the right region is more natural. Forced product is often over treated with chemicals and other life extenders. Consider that this will bring the prices down overall as local farmers produce seasonal food that isn’t in competition with some foreign importer.
And Then: Eat Organic!
You’ve known for a long time that organic food is better for you: no pesticides, no fertilizer, no additives, etc… and that most of it is closer to raw, natural foods than non-organic foods. But did you know that those same effects are positive on the planet, too? The reduction in the use of pesticides, fertilizers, chemical additives and extra processing reduce long term damage to our ecosystem. Organic agriculture is also more sustainable, meaning it can be used over a long term without causing depletion of resources beyond a rate that they can be renewed.
Get Into Variety!
Here is another argument for Organic foods. Organic farms grow a wide variety of plants to keep the soil healthy and preserve diversity. Nature didn’t intend for us to eat the same foods day in and day out, year after year. That’s why Squash is harvested in the Fall, Lettuce in the Winter, Corn in Spring and Peppers in the Summer. Industrial farms, on the other hand, monocrop, meaning they grow nothing but a few commodities. And they produce the same foods year round and in unnatural conditions, as most crops are not made to be grown and harvested year round. Eating by the seasons will give your diet more variety and a more natural rhythm with the earth.
Consider Eating Lower on the Food Chain
Animal products are hugely popular with most of us, from cheese to chicken wings. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods but it’s healthier, cheaper and more natural to eat more of your diet from non animal sources. In nature, a man would be lucky to get a wild boar once in a while, a chicken even less and it would be a big party if he’d gotten a steer! These would be occasional meals, based on how hard it is to find these animals, chase them down and kill them. It would be a larger part of the diet to eat berries, fruits, plants and vegetables as they were found or able to harvest. Just because we have advanced in many ways does not mean that we should leave our intended diet behind. Humans can eat both high and low on the food chain and be adequately nourished. Residues of persistent chemicals such as DDT, PCBs, dioxin, and many pesticides concentrate in animal fat. Hormones and antibiotics do too. And using so much of the planet for ranching is causing too much methane to enter the atmosphere. Another added source of ozone depletion and therefor, global warming.
Eat Raw, Natural & Whole Foods
There is nothing better for you than this. At first, it’s a bit of a change, both to your taste and to your tummy. Loading up with fiber filled whole foods can upset a system spoon fed processed foods over a long period. But whole foods are nutritionally complex and complete. They regulate your system, clean out your arteries, help you lose weight and give you sustained energy. Refined foods have had much of their nutritional value and fiber removed. Natural whole foods like fruits and vegetables don’t require as much packaging either on the manufacturing level or on the local level. Reducing the amount of packaging out there can’t do anything but good for a planet stuffed to the core with garbage. Consider also that processed foods are also the main causes of modern diseases such as diabetes, colon cancer and stroke. Consider it an investment in your own health that in turn, aids the local economy and also helps the planet. Big bonuses on this one.