The following is a guest post by Dora Varis. Dora Varis is a psychologist, author, freelance writer and musician with a passion for green living and education. She also is a contributing writer for a Criminal Justice Careers web site.
I have often mused lately, that if we all did just this one simple thing, we could save the planet, the state of our collective and individual health…and save money in the process.
What is that one thing?
Eat differently. Eat like our ancestors used to eat. As Michael Pollan says in his best-selling book: “In Defense of Food, An Eaters Manifesto”—Eat food; not too much; mostly plants.”
Simple, right? Why is this so difficult for us?
The importance of our food choices is paramount. We have become a nation—no–a world-wide citizenry, for the most part—of junk-food addicts. It makes us sick, the cost to our healthcare system is enormous and we are supporting a system of agriculture that is harming our planet. Junk food is cheap, it’s readily available, and our taste buds and our consumerist minds have been educated to think that it really does taste good. In fact, it’s greasy, salty, sugary and doughy. Junk food actually tastes bad, and if our ancestors ate it, they would spit it out in disgust.
Think globally, act locally.
In terms of food, of what we eat, this means: eat natural, organic locally- grown food…mostly plants.
Here are a few facts to support why eating this way, if enough of us do this–will, literally, save the world and, in the short term and the long run, save us money.
- A diet made up of foods that are grown and harvested locally—near where you live—consumes up to 17 times less energy (oil and gas) than a diet that has to be trucked or flown in from faraway places.
- Flavor – Food that is produced for durable shelf life and that has endured long periods of transportation, loses flavor and nutritional value. Conversely, a diet that is harvested locally, grown on soil that hasn’t been depleted by mono-culturing, is very tasty think of a non-organic, hard, pale tomato vs. juicy, blood-red, home grown tomato.
- Believe it or not, only about 5% of vegetable varieties are available commercially. The rest are either extinct, or only grown as part of a local, bio-diverse, local farmer’s garden. Most of the common vegetables we see in our grocery stores have been genetically engineered, sprayed with pesticides and grown on mineral-depleted soils. Real food—like vegetables that are grown by real people, not big agri-businesses–is kept healthy because it has been grown in a diverse garden, filled with different kinds of plants and vegetables that naturally keep pests to a minimum and regenerate the minerals in the soil between years. Gardeners know that rotating crops can also enhance soil, and using natural compost as fertilizer will keep vegetables nutrient rich.
- Safety of Food- Food borne Illnesses have become rampant in recent years. The reason for this is because of the industrialized methods used by big agriculture. Contaminants get into the water system, and into the food.
- Local economy- If we buy our food—a very large portion of our monthly expenditure—from large corporate agricultural sources, we rob our local economy and our neighbors of their income. This ends up hurting us, as all our local businesses suffer…twice the amount of money spent on local food gets re-invested in the local economy, as opposed to chain supermarket expenditure.
- Preservation of wildlife and farmland—Small organic farming practices revitalize soil, keep farm animals healthy and free of hormones and other contaminants, and serve to protect the land around the farms. This provides a safe harbor for the wildlife that is indigenous to the area. In addition, the water stays clean. Healthy animals do not contaminate ground water, pesticides and hormones aren’t flowing into the ground, and then ending up in our water system.
- If you support local growers, either by visiting farmer’s markets or through CSA’s or visiting your local farm, there is no middleman, so the farmer gets retail for his vegetables and products and can stay on his land.
Never before have we been faced with such a widespread epidemic of obesity and ill-health. Natural, unadulterated foods keep us healthy. If we are healthy, we don’t have to spend a lot of time and money trying to undo the effects of a poor diet. We save money on doctor bills and ultimately we save money on food bills because we have re-educated our palates towards less-costly, more natural fare.
Save Greenbacks on your Greens
It’s cost efficient in the short run because vegetables can be grown at home, purchased through a Consumer Supported Agriculture program, or at your local farmers market where prices are cheaper and your fresh food will last longer. So, you won’t have to buy as much of it.
It’s cheaper in the long run to stay healthy, stay slim, stay out of the hospital. Oh– and you can help the environment stay healthy, too.