How does what I eat affect the planet? What can I do to reduce my footprint on the earth? These may be the questions that come up when we consider Earth Day and the issues of pollution and climate change. Can we eat low on the food chain and still be healthy? As always, the answer depends on many things. Certainly we can decrease pollution by eating organic. Every time we choose organic we refuse to support the chemical pesticide industry. Pesticides are linked to the collapse of bee populations. Bees are needed to produce all fruits, nuts and seeds and many vegetables. Refusing pesticides reduces the total load of toxins and supports overall health. Refusing pesticides means fewer workers are exposed to these toxins as organic agriculture increases. Refusing pesticides means our world and the world we leave to our children and grand children is safer.
Eating low on the food chain to many means not eating meat, but for some conditions that is not conducive to health. Eating more vegetables and less grains and soy (which are often mono-crops) does reduce the negative impact on the land that all agribusiness has. Even organic soybeans, wheat and corn require huge amounts of water and fuel to plant, harvest and process. Eating seasonal vegetables reduces the distance our food travels reducing petrochemical use. Buying from farmer’s markets ensures we eat locally and seasonally and costs less than processed food from supermarkets. The Environmental Working Group EWG.org can teach us how to avoid pesticides and toxins in our foods, body care products and household products. They also have an annual list of 12 fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides when not organic called the “Dirty Dozen” and the foods with the least pesticide residues is in their list of “the Clean 15”.
All of this requires awareness and commitment. When we work together we can make a huge difference in our impact on the earth. For more information contact Laura Knoff, B.Sc., Nutrition Consultant.