Today will mark my final post on ways to honor Earth Day all throughout the year. Before I get into the final topic I intend to touch upon, eating green, I want to encourage you to take some time today to get outside and simply enjoy the beautiful Earth we have been given. As you step outside, just take a few moments to solely observe your surroundings. Notice the details. Maybe you observe something as simple as the birds chirping, or the grass progressively growing greener, or even just the feel of the ground beneath your feet. We are all children of the Earth, and in order to keep our surroundings pleasant, including these everyday little details, we must respect the Earth and treat it as it deserves. The Earth does us no intentional harm, generally treating us well and providing us with so much that we need, so let us give back and reciprocate this natural love, honoring and preserving our home.
Now let me dive into the final topic: Eating green!
- One of the best ways to eat with the environment in mind is to consume foods that are local. The typical bite full of food travels 1,400 miles to reach our mouths. This requires a lot of gas and energy, and causes a lot of unneeded carbon dioxide emissions to be released into the air. With that being said, become familiar with which foods are in season and opt to choose those foods on your next trip to the store. Try to stay away from produce that can’t be grown nearby or has yet to come into season. (Trust me, those semi-red tomatoes certainly won’t taste like the one’s from your garden. Summertime tomatoes are worth the wait!) However, keep in mind that even in-season foods displayed at the grocery store often don’t come from the farmer next door. The best way to ensure your purchases are from a local source is to hit up your local farmer’s market (or join a CSA program). Farmer’s markets always contain tons of goodies and surprises. Plus, the food is generally picked fresh from the vine, so it tends to hold more nutrition and optimal flavor. For more on this topic, click here. Also, if you have the space, consider doing Earth (and yourself) a favor and plant a garden. This can be a truly fun and rewarding experience!
- Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk cuts down on tons of packaging, helping to reduce excess waste in the landfills. It also helps to save the tons of energy that goes into creating all of that wrapping and packaging. Plus, an extra bonus for you is that bulk foods tend to be cheaper and typically contain much less additives than pre-packaged foods.
- Choose organic when possible and resources permit. Yes, organic can be costly, but think about all of the negative costs conventional farming poses to the Earth. In general, tons and tons of chemicals are sprayed onto non-organic foods. These chemicals leach out into the soil and waters, polluting the environment and harming the creatures within them. Plus, the residues of these chemicals, which have been shown to contribute to certain cancers and disease, end up on the food that we consume. Go organic, and create a win-win situation for the health of your body and the Earth.
- Cut back on animal products. Red meat production produces about 3.5 times as many greenhouse gases as grains. Cows in themselves are large producers of methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. According to the Humane Society of the U.S., animal agriculture produces 37% of the methane emissions within the U.S., substantially contributing to global warming. In fact, the agricultural raising of the ten billion animals used for meat, eggs, and dairy in the United States all require a ton of energy, water, and resources. The production of feed, farming fuel, packaging, and desertification caused by animal ag. are leading contributes of carbon dioxide emissions (the most powerful greenhouse gas). Consider cutting back on animal products and adding more grains, legumes, beans, and veggies to your diet, all of which mandate much less water and energy expenditure than animal products. Give Meatless Mondays a try!
- Be choosy when choosing seafood. Seafood doesn’t require the excessive amount of resources that other animal products do. However, loads of species of fish are being over-fished to the point of endangerment. Save the fishies that are in dire danger, and check out this website for a list of fish that are believed to be within sustainable and acceptable fishing levels. Also, whenever possible, choose wild. Farm-raised fish are raised in overcrowded cages, which necessitates the use of antibiotics, chemicals, and additives. These pollute the waters and our bodies.
This concludes my series on simple tips to help preserve the Earth. While I’ve written the following posts in honor of Earth Day, it’s highly recommended that we employ these tips all year around so that Mother Earth can continue to thrive. Green is simply not just a trend that can be afforded to fade out. So hop on the bandwagon, and stay there!