How Your Food Purchase Choices Impact the Environment

How Your Food Purchase Choices Impact the Environment

Americans are a privileged lot. Walk into any supermarket across this great country and you can practically count on both hands how many individual choices you have for each food category. With so much to choose from it is rarely taken into consideration how your food purchase choices impact the environment. From packaging to transport energy and everything in-between all it takes is a few extra thoughts to make your decision matter.

Local Fare
Buy from your local farms

Buy from your local farms

Giving locally grown foods a chance can significantly affect the bigger picture. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that the average American meal includes food choices from upwards of five foreign countries. This is an incredible overuse of transport, refrigeration and storage energy that could otherwise make it from farm to table within a few days or even hours if purchased locally. Plus, buying local fare also reduces the risk of disease as it uses fewer pesticides and preservatives and is handled by less people who could easily transfer any number of germs or parasites.

Meat and Fish

The process that goes into producing top of the food chain choices such as meat, fish and dairy is enormous. With a cow for instance, it all begins with the irrigation of the land to grow the corn to feed the animal. This takes a huge amount of water over the lifetime of the cow’s diet. Some estimates report that the amount of water used to produce one pound of ground beef is equal to the amount of water that could essentially float a tanker. Also, the forest that is cleared to use for grazing greatly affects the O2/Co2 equilibrium. Plus, the methane released from the manure of factory farmed cows is a serious addition to global warming. According to the NRDC, if every American were to reduce their meat intake to one quarter pound serving of beef per week, the reduction of global warming could equal the removal of fossil fuel exhaust produced by approximately six million cars. Overfished imported and exotic seafood is also a global warming culprit as it takes a great amount of boating fuel, which can burn dirtier than car fuel, to continue deeper harvesting due to dwindling resources.

Buy Global Friendly Foods

Purchasing low on the food chain (especially if it is local) can assist in easing our struggling environment. Add more fresh fruits, vegetables and grains to your diet. Choosing fresh as opposed to packaged, frozen or canned items, not only reduces energy output, but can also significantly improve ground and air leaching waste. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 27% (by weight) of food is thrown out (or used for animal feed). The result of this discarded food along with its chemical packaging significantly contributes to land fill global warming.

Be aware of how your food purchases impact the environment and with a few simple adjustments as well as educating friends and family, mother earth may have a chance just yet.

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