How Do You Practice Sustainable Eating?
By Nicole Carter, MEd CHES
In the ongoing battle of diets, there are so many perspectives as to which diet is “better” for health. Should we all be vegan, or maybe just vegetarian. Is the Paleo plan the way to go, or simply non-GMO organic raw foods only? There is also the question of which diet is better for the environment, and which diet will support the world population in coming years. This all brings up the questions of sustainability.
What Is Sustainable?
- Food or resources able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
- Farming that involves methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources
- Growing conditions that are able to last or continue for a long time
Problems we face
- Water availability
- Land space for farming
- Increased Toxic Load from pesticides, fertilizers and animal wastes
Double Burden: The World Health Organization
There are now over a billion people in the world who go hungry and about the same number of people who are overweight. The WHO calls this “the double burden” and they are both linked through inequality.
“Cheap” food ignores health and the environment. ‘Sustainable’ food takes into account environmental, health and social concerns.
Facts and Figures
- It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 b of steak, and 25 to product 1lb of wheat. (John Robbins)
- It takes 1 gallon of water to produce 1 almond, and almost 5 to produce 1 walnut (John Robbins)
What we can DO to live more sustainable:
- Eat less meat – meat production requires large amounts of water and produces huge amounts of toxic waste
- Buy pasture raised meats and eggs – animals raised in pastures are able to eat naturally and have less disease than those in traditional agriculture conditions.
- Use less nuts – nuts require large amounts of water and are not a natural food to be eating in large quantity in the body anyway as they contain phytic acids that block nutrient absobption in other foods.
- Buy locally grown – reduces the use of transportation costs, reduces the emissions involved in transportation and places demands on organic farming when you make it a priority to shop organic and local.
- Buy from small farms (crop rotation and intercropping) Who can be practice biodynamic farming methods that are difficult for large scale farms to accomplish and maintain.
- Focus on plants – The Harvard School of Public Health recommends filling half of your plate with plant foods every day. I recommend you fill the rest with high quality fats and proteins!
CDC’s Suggestions that we choose food that:
- Does not harm the environment
- Supports and preserves rural communities
- Is healthy and nutritious to eat
- Respects farm animals
- Provides farmers with a fair wage
- Is free of added toxins
- Is grown in the local community
- Does not harm the health of farm workers
Here are 5 Shopping tips to help you SHOP more sustainable!
- Buy Wild Caught fish, grass fed beef, pasture raised chicken and eggs.
- Buy organically grown produce
- Buy local foods including (raw) milks when available.
- Shop at your farmers market for as many items as possible.
- STOP buying foods produced in other countries.
I short, every type of diet can be sustainable if you apply the right principles! Choose a diet that supports your dietary needs AND the environment!