Eating to Save the Planet

Katherine explaining  “Farmers Markets: Good For You, Good For The Environment” Watch on CNN

For those of you who want to make a contribution toward saving the planet, you may want to consider changing what you eat. One simple way to do that? Buy locally and seasonally at your Farmers Market.

What you eat profoundly affects not only your health, but the environment, too. This is important news because when it comes to environmental issues and halting global warming, many of us feel overwhelmed and helpless. So it’s amazing that something as simple as making better food choices can reduce global warming by lowering greenhouse gases, saving land, and conserving diminishing water and energy supplies.

Your protein choice will make the most significant difference on the environment (and your health). Producing meat requires six to seventeen times more land than growing vegetable protein, 26 times more water. And producing vegetables is up to 50 times more energy efficient than meat production, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Eating vegetable protein will also save your health. Decades of research has found that plants contain compounds (phytochemicals) with potent powers of healing. People who eat a plant-based diet are leaner, have less cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

But when eating more fruits and vegetables, it’s important to consider how and where they’re grown. Environmental resource conservation is reduced if food is transported long distances and grown in large industrial farms which specialize in only one or a few foods. Locally, organically produced food saves water, energy and encourages a region’s unique varieties of fruits and vegetables. Heirloom varieties, for example, have been passed down through generations, have natural resistance to pests, disease and are better able to tolerate local conditions without too much exra energy, pesticides or water.

How you can protect the environment through your food choices:

* Buy seasonally and locally at farm stands and farmers’ markets,
* Eat a plant-based diet,
* Reduce meat consumption,
* Use heirloom varieties, whenever possible,
* Buy organic whenever possible.

This article was excerpted from: The Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2007; 107: 1033 – 1043 “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Food and Nutrition Professionals Can Implement Practices to Conserve Natural Resources and Support Ecological Sustainability”

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2 comments


  • narayan singh

    For the Governments, its a challenge to feed masses. For that scientists are producing fast breeding crops, recommending use of pesticides, chemical fertilisers, genome crops etc. This is destroying environment.

    While at individual level those who can afford and who have knowledge would go for organic food, grown without chemicals, heirloom kind varieties. these varieties puts no stress on environment and sustains a healthy life. But alas in this case, the production will be reduced and cost of production escalates.

    In my opinion the Governments and individual interests here are in conflict. The choices offered in the article are for wealthy individuals.

    What is your take Katherine?

    May 25, 2012
    • Dear Narayan,
      Thank you so much for reading and commmenting. As usual, you are so thoughtful…You are so right to be concerned. Luckily, eating healthy has been found to be the least expensive way to eat. Take a look at my piece, “Fit and Frugal,” and let me know what you think…
      Warmly, Katherine

      June 29, 2012

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