Eating Matters: Make Your Meals Eco-Conscious

Follow these wise eating tips to reduce your diet's carbon footprint—and enjoy healthier, fresh foods. Yum!

| July/August 2008

  • Plant-based proteins can add nutritious variety to your diet. Versatile beans, nuts and grains work together in infinite combinations.
  • The FDA allows more than 300 synthetic food additives in conventional foods. None of these are allowed in foods that are USDA certified organic.
  • Organic, local produce saves fossil fuels, reduces your intake of pesticides, is proven to contain more nutrients and definitely tastes better.

The average American diet is energy intensive—our food requires huge amounts of fossil fuels to cultivate, package, market and distribute. By making a few smart food choices every day, you can save tons of fuel and other resources—and you’ll also be eating healthier and fresher foods.

To help you shift into environmental gear at mealtime, we’ve listed the top 10 areas in which your wise choices can make a difference for you, your family and the earth.

Bon Appetit! The following choices can fuel diversity in your diet--and help save the planet, one meal at a time.

1. Eat Local. Shipping food from other regions or countries demands energy and fossil fuels. Refrigerated transportation requires even more. A typical meal travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach your plate.

Visit your local farmer’s market. Local choices will drastically reduce the amount of fossil fuels used for shipping, plus you’ll help create a demand for diversity within the neighboring farming communities.

2. Look for grass-fed, natural and organic meats and dairy. Large-scale, conventional factory farms use immense quantities of water, grain and fuel. The United Nations estimates that livestock activities contribute 18 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions—more than transportation. The waste from livestock operations also contributes to air and water pollution. Dairy cows in conventional factory farms are sometimes given genetically engineered growth hormones to increase milk production. These drugs are persistent in the environment, and their long-term effects on humans are largely unknown.

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