In our last post we talked about the Joe Rogan podcast as an unconventional source of world knowledge and information. One episode recently discussed the documentary Cowspiracy (produced by Leonardo DiCaprio), and touched on some interesting problems facing the food industry today.
Sustainability has been a buzzword for a few years now, and the basic idea is consuming goods that are capable of being produced without necessary expansion, able to create or replace the materials consumed in production. Finding a stable and sustainable diet for America is going to be a major issue facing the agriculture industry in the coming years.
One of the more interesting points that Cowspiracy makes is that the least humanely raised animals actually are the most sustainable, particularly cows. This puts a sustainable diet at odds with those who want to eat humanely raised animal protein.
With this difficulty in finding foods that are sustainable, we thought we would throw together a few tips for finding a diet that you can enjoy and feel good about.
"'Beans' isn't a tip!" I hear you wailing. Fine. But you should eat beans if you care about sustainability. They help replenish the soil that they grow in, which means that they make raising other crops possible and reduce the need for fertilizers derived from fossil fuels. As an added bonus, a diet high in beans has been included as one of the common traits of societies highest in centenarians (people who reach age 100) in Dan Buettner's Blue Zones. Cutting out meat and eating beans (including lentils, peas, peanuts, and alfalfa) can save you money, save the planet, and help you live longer. Now try telling me that "beans" isn't a tip.
Do you consistently find yourself throwing out the remains of food that you bought but never got around to eating? Firstly, stop doing that! Resources went into making that food and getting it to you, so if you want to cut environmental impact, quit tossing away food. Secondly, stop buying that item. At least stop buying it in that amount. Being mindful about how much you consume while you're in the store is the best thing you can do to cut waste. Don't get optimistic and buy healthy veggies only to watch them shrivel in the fridge if you've shown that that's what happens.
Lamp has the largest carbon footprint of any food item, and cows are close behind. Instead try for fish, and look for Wild Alaskan, but if you don't mind the taste (or lack thereof), farmed fish (try for carp) is probably the best option for the planet, to help take the pressure off of the dwindling ocean fish stocks. Also consider upping your intake of rope-grown mussels, the most sustainable farmed animal protein. They help support wild fish, and they are delicious in pasta.
If the produce that you're eating is in season, then it's going to be much more likely to be grown locally, thus consuming fewer resources in transportation and reducing environmental impact. Beyond just being more sustainable, this will also encourage you to vary your diet seasonally, rotating in new foods so that your body doesn't adapt to any one source for too long.
If you're going to want things out of season, why not learn to preserve them at home?
For food that stores dry at room temperature, consider buying in bulk to reduce the waste in packaging that comes along with smaller, more frequent purchases. Beans, rice, cereals, dried fruits, and nuts can all be bought in bulk and stored at room temperature, so you can avoid all the processing necessary to dye and print one of those gaudy labels on the individual serving sizes.
That's how we've been cutting back. Do you have any tips for us? It's an ongoing process and we're becoming more aware of our impact each day, so let us know how you eat sustainably in the comments down below!
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