This Post is Prepared by Donnie Dann
Many different factors influence the foods and drinks that we buy and consume, including availability, cost, taste, freshness, and healthiness. One factor that is often overlooked is environmental impact. Consumer choices have a dramatic effect on our environment. Here are some examples of ways to increase your environmentally conscious eating habits:
Spare the rainforest
- Did your hamburger come from a cow that munched on grasses that had once been a biodiverse, oxygen-producing Amazonian rainforest? According to the Global Forest Atlas, “Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazonian country, accounting for 80% of current deforestation rates.” Whenever possible, look for country of origin labels and buy local.
Limit pollutants from factory farms
- Avoid purchasing pork, poultry, beef, and other livestock products sourced from animals raised in large “concentrated animal feeding operations.” These factory farms are known to release significant amounts of contaminants into the air and water.
Buy organic to reduce pesticide use in your food
- As agricultural pests evolve and become immune to traditional pesticides, manufacturers seeking to stop the critters develop newer, more pernicious chemical combinations that lace our food with pesticide residues. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) acknowledges that pest-killing residues were found on 85% of tested foods. Though the USDA claims that the levels found were lower than would be harmful to people, Eco-Watch points out that no long-term studies have ever examined the cumulative effect of eating a pesticide-coated apple a day for 20 years.
- Several large agribusiness companies, including Monsanto and DuPont, produce a type of soybean seed that is resistant to the herbicide dicamba. Dicamba is a pesticide that kills broadleaf plants like milkweed, which are considered weeds in a soybean field but are critically needed by Monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. When these companies sell a farmer dicamba-tolerant soybean seeds, the farmer knows he can spray his fields with dicamba and kill the weeds, but not the soybean plants. That’s a winning hand for that farmer, but not for neighboring farms or the greater ecosystem. One lawsuit filed against Monsanto and DuPont (among other defendants) alleges that “dicamba drift” resulting from vaporization and wind kills soybeans and other plants in adjoining farms that were not planted with dicamba-tolerant soybean seeds. Dicamba drift also threatens natural areas like nature preserves, destroying native habitat in the process.
- Buying organic foods that were not treated with pesticides keeps you and your family from ingesting potentially harmful chemicals. It may also prevent your food purchases from contributing to mass degradation of natural habitats and the resulting loss of plant and animal species.
So what can you do? Read ingredients and ask questions. Find out where your grocer and your restaurant get their beef, chicken, fish, and produce. It will make you a more informed, environmentally conscious consumer and allow you to avoid patronizing harmful sources.
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