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Conscious Food Choices: Good For You And The Planet

“Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you who you are,” ~Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

The choices we have, as food consumers today is almost unlimited; the number of restaurants, grocery stores and small food markets lining any street is mind-boggling; the selections of food varieties nearly infinite. Food is BIG business and marketing food to us (the consumers) is HUGE business. But who says any of that food is good for you? Is your child getting any sustainable, digestible, nutrition from that heavily marketed sugary cereal? And if all the food companies care about is their bottom line, do you think they are even considering what their manufacturing practices do the  environment?   We need to take control of our own health and well being, like we do our finances, and that of our planet’s too. Making conscious, nourishing food choices for our families can benefit, not only us, but our local economy/community and, in the long term, the planet.

Your health depends on your food choices. An international team led by Newcastle University has shown that organic crops are up to 69% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. Numerous studies have linked antioxidants to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers. The researchers also found that conventional foods contained greater concentrations of residual pesticides and the toxic metal cadmium. Making good food choices for you and your family could have long term affects not only on their future but on the earth’s.

Buying locally grown and produced food from your neighborhood farm/producer keeps money circulating closer to where you spend it. This creates a ripple effect as those farmers and their employees in turn spend your money locally. Consider this fact: for every dollar that you spend at a local business .45 cents is reinvested locally versus for every dollar spent at a chain store/service only .15 cents is reinvested locally. In addition, another big benefit occurs when you purchase locally is you maximize your money’s impact and minimize fuel and CO2 production.

Organic growing practices matter in the reduction of green house gasses. Excess nitrogen from fertilizer not only ends up in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (where it’s a very potent greenhouse gas), it also ends up in our waterways and aquifers, where it causes everything from nitrate poisoning in drinking water, to toxic algae, to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. To grow food organically, farmers must build their soil, using techniques like composting, cover crops, and crop rotations rather than fossil fuel-intensive synthetic fertilizer. Doing so is a lot more work. But on an environmental level, that matters.

Coherency is the signature of nature, and somehow we have lost sight of that fact when it comes to our food. We are at a cross roads in the history of our species as man-made changes to the climate threaten humanity’s security on Earth. But there is a hope for our future that hope is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits to the human race and the earth. The solution is slow food that is locally, organically and/or bio-dynamically grown.