You may have heard that what you eat can affect the health of your body and mind, but did you know that your food choices can also have a big impact on the environment? That’s right! The foods we choose in the supermarket every day have an enormous effect on our planet. The good news is that even small changes can make real progress toward protecting our resources, including air and water quality, climate stability, and ocean health. Let’s take a look at some of the ways our food choices affect the environment, and how changing your diet could make the world around us healthier and happier too.
Yes, the food we eat has a big impact on the environment
The food choices we make every day have a big effect on the environment. The good news is that even small changes in what we buy and eat can add up to real environmental benefits, including fewer toxic chemicals, reduced global warming emissions, and preservation of our ocean resources.
The average American diet generates over 4,000 pounds of waste per year that ends up in landfills or incinerators where it releases methane into the atmosphere. When they are disposed of improperly, food scraps take years to decompose and produce harmful greenhouse gases like methane.
At home, you can use compostable bins or recycling containers if you don't want to compost at home. You might also think about eating less meat as meat production contributes significantly more greenhouse gases than plant-based foods. To be mindful of your diet's impact on the environment, think about reducing your meat consumption and switching from carbon-intensive animal products to vegetables that are grown locally and consumed seasonally with minimal processing.
Small changes in our diet can have a big environmental impact
There are lots of easy ways you can change your diet without sacrificing taste or variety.
You may also consider buying organic products. Certified organic foods contain no synthetic pesticides, artificial hormones, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
If everyone chose more sustainable options when shopping for groceries, it would benefit not only the environment but people as well. When you choose organic produce you are avoiding ingesting pesticides which are known to be harmful to humans.
Eating less meat can reduce global warming emissions
The UN found that animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than all transportation combined. Animal agriculture also produces more than half of all anthropogenic nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Finally, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than all transportation put together! And because meat production requires much more land and water to produce food for animals than it does to produce plant foods directly for humans, eating less meat could reduce pressure on resources like our rainforests and oceans. Eating less meat can reduce toxic chemicals in the environment: Meat production produces toxic substances such as ammonia and hydrogen sulphide - both linked to serious health problems like cancer, asthma, and stroke - at higher rates than any other industry.
Buying organic food can reduce toxic chemicals
Organic farming is better for our planet because it doesn't use any pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. There are also no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in organic food, which means fewer toxic chemicals.
Organic farming is also better for animal welfare because animals on organic farms have more space to roam and be outdoors. Buying organic food reduces toxic chemicals and helps preserve our ocean resources.
Choosing sustainable seafood can help preserve our ocean resources
There are many ways to help preserve our oceans and the animals in them. One way is to purchase sustainable seafood, which is seafood caught or farmed in a way that has a minimal negative impact on wild populations, habitats, and ecosystems. Another way is to eat lower on the food chain: Choosing plant-based foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans) rather than animal-based foods (such as meat, and dairy products) will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent per serving. It also helps conserve water resources and reduces pollution associated with factory farming. Lastly, it's important to consider where your food comes from. Buying local produce supports nearby farms while reducing transportation emissions - and can be easier on the wallet too! In addition to the environmental benefits of choosing sustainable seafood and eating less meat, there are also personal health benefits from these changes including reduced rates of obesity and improved cardiovascular health.
When you really stop to think about it, our food choices have the potential to have a huge effect on the planet—both good and bad. So why wouldn't we at least consider making more of an effort to be environmentally friendly when it comes to what we eat? It's possible that our actions could make all the difference.
A healthy planet makes for good living, so it’s time we all made the connection between what is on our plates and what is around us. In doing so, we can reduce our eco-footprint, save money and improve the quality of life for everyone in the process.