Updated: Nov 10, 2020
You may not be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or even a "healthy" eater, maybe you're just considering the environmental impact your diet has on our planet, it's communities, and it's ecosystems. We each make individual choices when it comes to our body's fuel, and this post will hopefully inspire you to eat more mindfully. With mindful eating it begs the questions; where is your food coming from, what type of impact does it have on it's community, and is it harnessed in a way that is sustainable? Even "healthy" eaters are offenders of the dark food trade.
Take the avocado for instance. This is one of my all time favorite fruits. I want it on everything, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I can never seem to get enough. It's consider a healthy fruit (in moderation) even with it's fatty content, it is fortunate to be plumped with a monounsaturated "good" fat that helps to lower "bad" cholesterol, and it's filled with all sorts of vitamins & minerals. You've probably heard the debate before; "Yes avocados are healthy and filled with nutrients" or "no their bad for you and filled with fat". Either way, what you probably didn't hear was that the avocado industry in Colombia outbid it's neighboring villages for fresh drinking water, and that this water is now directed solely to the avocado orchards. This same delicious fruit has now caused turf wars and violent gang activity in Mexico, where avocado farmer's & their family members have been kidnapped for hefty ransom as a result of the booming industry.
Of course it is no ones fault the average person isn't aware of this. These types of stories in food and agriculture occur more often than you would imagine, and I don't think it is realistic to know all the deep intricacies of the food trade. So what can we do?
We can eat more consciously demanding from ourselves, a clean and sustainable palate. How can I eat more clean & sustainably? There are a few ways to move in the right direction toward sustainability. At a minimum you could start by eating & cooking only what foods are in season. Another option is to grow your own garden and compost food scraps. But if you don't have much of a green thumb, that's ok, purchasing food from your local farms or farmers markets is a major step in the right direction. This reduces unnecessary emissions waste from the distribution process, keeps transparency on the direct local impacts of the trade, and inevitably results in you eating a "seasonal" diet.
If you're willing to go above and beyond, and/or you don't want to narrow your food supply to locals only, then you can do your very own "green" research on the farms producing your food. What you should be looking for is a farm that uses healthy soil practices that create biodiversity and improve soil quality, while also reducing carbon emissions from the atmosphere. To find out whether your source is creating a positive impact, ask the farms whether they practices a regenerative soil method promoting a no-till agricultural system, the use of cover crops, the rotation of crops to sustain diverse soil nutrients, the adding of compost to their fields, and/or the limit or removal of chemical sprays. These are the real heroes of climate change, as they aren't only creating a more sustainable ecosystem, but their efforts are actually reducing CO2 in our atmosphere by enriching the soil.
If you aren't ready to ditch the dairy or meat you can find out where your source is coming from and ask some similar questions. Find whether the supplier of your meat & dairy practices grazing that supports regenerative agriculture through animal integration, further increasing biodiversity, and reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
What shocks me most is that we have become a society that normalized the separation of the agricultural farming, dairy farming & cattle ranching. These were forever an overlapping industry until now, because their benefits connected a major ecosystem and lifecycle through the benefiting biodiversity on our lands. We must bring back a healthy way of eating for our planet. It all starts with you, the consumer, and the demand you create, on where and how your food is provided to you.
So cheers to your next bite, may you be filled with intention and a conscious mind.
M.E. (Mother Earth) thanks you!
We all want to imagine farms that look like this: