Earth

Every mountain, every valley, every creek on this Earth is home to creatures, organisms and spirits that have roamed the Earth a good deal longer than we have.

And yet it is we who have been gifted with the power to preserve, destroy, or restore. We are the ones who must choose. What will we create, as our legacy to the future?

 

Ten Ways to Eat Greener Food

First published in Corporate Knights, March 2008

1. Make it Local
Until very recently, almost all the food we ate was local. Today, your beer, broccoli or butter might travel as much as 2,000 kilometres or more before it reaches your plate, using fossil fuels that contribute to global warming and disaster ahead. One study in Iowa found that a regional diet used 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country. Eating locally grown food supports local farmers, and makes you more aware of the seasons. And brings you food that is fresh (see below).   See www.100milediet.org

2. Make it Vegetarian
My first reason for becoming vegetarian was that I didn’t want to be a part of the killing. Later, I learnt that the world could feed everyone so much more easily if people did not eat meat, since raising animals for food requires so much land, water, and energy. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, the equivalent of seven soccer fields of land is bulldozed every minute, from China to Brazil, to create more room for farmed animals. Then I learnt that German vegetarians have a 56% reduced incidence of colon cancer, and that Japanese women who eat meat daily have an eight times greater risk of breast cancer than those who rarely or never eat meat – and I came across The China Study, which revealed that the healthiest people ate the most plant-based food.  See www.goveg.com

3. Make it Organic
Maybe it’s for the birds and bees - a typical organic field has five times as many wild plants and many more birds than a regular farm. In England, organic land has twice as many skylarks and butterflies, bringing back the magic of farmland. Maybe it’s for the soil – an organic field contains almost twice as many creatures in the soil. Maybe it’s for the climate – organic land stores more carbon as it rebuilds the soil. And maybe it’s for your health – organic food contains more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting properties. See www.theorganicreport.com

4. If You Eat Beef, Make it Grass-Fed
Cattle raised in feedlots are subject to crowding, stress, and an unnatural diet of grains. They generate huge amounts of pollution as manure, and the feedlots undermine smaller family farms. Cows are ruminants. They evolved to eat fibrous plants, grasses and shrubs, not grains. Grain-fed beef contains a high level of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are harmful to our health; cows raised on pasture have 2 to 4 times more Omega-3s, which are essential for our health.  See www.eatwild.com

5. If You Eat Chicken or Eggs, Make them Free-Range
You really don’t want to know. Ten billion chickens are raised every year in North America in tiny cramped spaces where they can’t stretch their wings, reeking of ammonia and feces, debeaked so that they don’t harm each other, and suffering regular illnesses including ammonia burns and skin infections. Chickens are birds. They have personalities. They love to explore for food, roll in a dust bath, and raise their chicks. The only thing green about factory-raised chickens would be the colour of your face, if you saw them.  See www.hsus.org/farm

6. If You Eat Fish, Make it Sustainable
Again, you don’t want to know – but you need to. The world’s fish stocks in international waters are being plundered to the point of extinction, the WWF says. We have lost half of all sea fish species from the major fishing grounds as a result of overfishing, and the “big” fish – the marlin, tuna, shark, and cod – have fallen in number by 90% in just 50 years. Long-line fishing, deep sea trawling, space-age technologies – the fish don’t stand a chance. Use Canada’s SeaChoice Seafood Guide to help you choose fish that has been fished sustainably. See www.seachoice.org

7. If You Eat Salmon, Make it Wild
It’s called salmon “farming”, but it’s really industrial mass production in net cages that float in the ocean. Like battery-raised chickens, the farmed salmon are fed antibiotics to stop the spread of disease; their waste is dumped straight into the ocean; and they are spreading sea-lice to local wild salmon. Wild salmon from BC or Alaska supports a sustainable fishery - that’s one reason why Alaska won’t allow salmon farming in its waters. See www.farmedanddangerous.org

8. Make it Fresh
Plants have evolved over millions of years, so they know every trick in the book. When they sense an attack of fungus coming, they generate phytochemicals to defend themselves. When we eat them, this helps protect us against disease. If we want to benefit from the phytochemicals, fruits and vegetables need to be freshly picked because when they are they are not exposed to fungus until they are ripe. Likewise, they need to be organic, because sprayed crops are not exposed to fungus. See www.salvestrols.ca

9. Make it Slow
Slow food is local, home-cooked, and much loved, over conversation and a glass of locally brewed beer or local wine. Gone is most of the packaging, leading to mountains of landfill waste. Gone are the chemicals, additives, flavourings and colorants. Slow food brings back the taste of place, the taste of the seasons. See www.slowfoodfoundation.com

10. Make it Vegan
I could end with “Make it Raw”, which is probably the healthiest diet of all (www.rawfoods.org), but I chose this because it allows more flexibility, while doing the least harm to the Earth’s environment. Vegan means no animal products at all – no milk, cheese, no eggs. When properly planned, a vegan diet can be healthier than the traditional American diet and still provide you with all the nutrients you need.  See www.vegan.org

 

Guy Dauncey is co-author of Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic (New Society Publishers, 2007), and Co-chair of Prevent Cancer Now (www.preventcancernow.ca). His personal website is www.earthfuture.com