Sustainable eating is the topic of countless blog posts these days, and is being pushed by doctors, environmentalists, social activists, and everyone in the health community. Let me break it down for you. Sustainability refers to living and consuming in such a way that will allow the Earth’s resources to continue to effectively provide for our population indefinitely. We must be mindful of the effects that our diets have on the food system and the natural world as a whole. If we claim to respect our planet and wish for continued food security in the future, we must align our actions with these views, in part by making the conscious choice to eat sustainably. Two major components of this are selecting foods that are organic and local. Organic foods are farmed without the use of man-made pesticides, fertilisers, and growth regulators. They typically contain few synthetic additives and no genetically modified ingredients, and undergo minimal processing. This is not to be confused with local food, which is grown relatively close to the point in which it is purchased and consumed. The specific distance is debatable, but many people refer to a 100-mile radius when classifying foods as being local. Many products are both local and organic, however it is important to understand the difference between the two, as they offer slightly different benefits in terms of health and the environment. That being said, here are 3 general reasons why you should eat sustainably to fulfill your responsibility as a global citizen.
- For the environment! Synthetic pesticides contain toxic chemicals that kill bees, birds, and other essential pollinators that allow plant reproduction. We rely on honeybees directly for approximately ⅓ of the food we consume! Not to mention, when soil erodes, these same toxic chemicals enter water bodies and kill aquatic organisms, disrupting ecosystems that we count on for fresh water and food supply.
- For your health! Not only can pesticides and other chemical additives be harmful to the environment, but they can affect your health as well. Many recent studies suggest that they may increase your risk of a variety of health complications, ranging from mental illnesses to cancers. Conventional factory farms often keep large numbers of livestock in close proximity, increasing the chances of disease spreading. Finally, foods that travel long distances from producer to consumer will often decrease in nutritional value during their journey.
- For the taste! Local farmers don’t have to worry about increasing shelf life or preventing foods from ripening before they get to their customers. Instead, they can focus on producing food with optimal flavour, knowing that it will reach their consumers almost immediately. When farmers are closely connected to their consumers, they care more about their satisfaction, and this almost always results in better tasting food.
Foundation, GRACE Communications. “Why Buy Sustainable?” GRACE Communications Foundation, www.sustainabletable.org/943/why-buy-sustainable.
“ BENEFITS OF EATING LOCALLY SOURCED, SUSTAINABLE FOODS.” Our Business, Your Business, info.esg.adec-innovations.com/blog/benefits-of-eating-locally-sourced-sustainable-foods.
Foundation, GRACE Communications. “Do You Have to Eat 100% Local, Sustainable, and Organic?” GRACE Communications Foundation, www.sustainabletable.org/568/do-you-have-to-eat-100-local-sustainable-and-organic.
“The benefits of eating local foods.” Food and Dining Services, 6 Mar. 2012, www.mcgill.ca/foodservices/sustainability/green/local.