Sustainability and Food

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to broaden your horizons about how the choices you make every day affect the environment. I think the biggest issue we have as consumers is being undereducated on how the choices we make can cause a ripple effect out into the world. This blog post is to show you guys how the choices you make when you eat can affect the environment and the agriculture system in general.

To start, I want to put it out there that I am somewhat bias on this topic. I worked in agriculture research last summer and fell in love with the topic. I have read lots of books on the food system, veganism, and sustainable cooking, and I want to share the knowledge I have gained from this with you guys!

1. Where you shop

This one gets people a little fired up sometimes because I think this can be something that really is an issue for people. You should see the reactions I get when I tell them I’m an affordable and sustainable lifestyle blogger, yet I shop at Whole Foods… Yes I know the elusive Whole Foods with ridiculous prices and a very large cheese section! Look, I know they are known for being an overpriced grocery store, but they are so much more than that!(Especially since Amazon bought them and made it a LOT cheaper) Did you know they are one of 3 supermarket chains out of 68 with a “stellar” produce score from Consumer Reports? Did you also know that The Whole City and Whole Kids foundations are funded by Whole Foods to support healthy food access for children and lower-income communities. The Whole Planet foundation has granted $64 million to micro-finance partners in 65 countries, helping more than 5 million people.

This company brings in fair trade goods and makes sure the workers from other companies are treated and paid fairly just like their own, because guess what?! Farming is super hard work and people don’t get paid enough to do it!?

I cannot say enough good things about this company. They make my heart so happy when I see how much good they do for our local communities and our global communities. Yes they are owned by a giant consumerism machine, but your purchases at Whole Foods are making a positive impact. That little extra money you spend goes to knowing your food is quality, the people working there are happy, and that some of the money you’re spending is going to great causes like growing women owned businesses in developing countries.

Now you don’t have to shop at Whole Foods, but you should think about where your food comes from. If you can, buy food at your local farmers market or privately owned food store. Buying local supports your local economy and the more you buy local, the less your food has to be transported saving emissions. Buying from small local farmers also means you aren’t supporting farm industrialization, which also is bad for the environment. Your food doesn’t just show up in the store for $1 for no reason. Remember what your money supports.

2. The foods you eat

Now I do not have a problem with GMOs. I know lots of people do. I have issues with how the effect farmers costs and things like that, but I worked with BT corn (the most common GMO) over the summer and I’m all about the GMO train for the most part. If you want to eat them or not, you do you.

I personally don’t eat red meat. I eat it if it’s going to inconvenience someone, but otherwise I don’t. Like if I’m going to a family meal with John’s family and they want to make burgers, I will eat them. It’s annoying to be the person who’s like, “oh I don’t eat that” so I just eat it, but at home, we don’t buy it. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the production, processing and distribution of meat uses huge amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water while releasing greenhouse gases, manure and a range of toxic chemicals into our air and water. A lifecycle analysis conducted by EWG that took into account the production and distribution of 20 common agricultural products found that red meat such as beef and lamb is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as common vegetables and grains! What?!

Red meat is horrible for the environment and although we will never get rid of this industry, you can limit the amount of production by lowering the number of consumers the market has.

The processing of meat in general is bad for the environment. You could use the amount of water to produce 1 pound of beef to grow 10 pounds of corn. Beef production takes 3 times as much water as any other meat production. If you’re going to eat red meat, try to buy it responsibly because it has a much larger impact than you think.

3. Where you go out to eat

This relates back to the other 2 topics I already mentioned, but lots of fast food restaurants don’t care where their food came from, how it was processed, or what else is added to it. Try to stick to fast food restaurants and large restaurants that keep local and buy quality ingredients. Restaurants that are farm to table are SO important! It is so nice for a restaurant to have seasonal menus and to partner with local farmers because that supports local economy, seasonal eating, and is shows that the restaurant cares!

There are also lots of fast food chains that are hopping on this wagon as well. Here are some I love to go to or you can check out!

  1. Chipotle
  2. Sweet Green
  3. CAVA
  4. Jimmy John’s
  5. Busboys and Poet’s

I hope this post makes you think twice when you eat a meal. I linked below all the places I got my facts as well as some great articles and books about the topic. This is something that’s catching wind in our community and I hope it continues. Share this with your friends and spread the knowledge. It’s how we create change.

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