Clean Living Series #2: Minimal Impact Munching

This week on the Clean Living Series we are going to share our top tips for minimal impact munching. There are small changes that you can make to your eating habits that are not only healthier for your body but also decrease your carbon footprint. We will go though some obvious and some more surprising foods that lead to harmful effects on the environment. Then, share some things you can do to offset these harmful effects. 

Harmful Food Production

Meat

It is a widespread topic that cattle raising and meat production are harmful for the environment. Meat production is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases and heavily contributes to water pollution as well. Grass fed livestock not only take up land space but also contribute to the degradation of the land and their bio waste releases harmful methane into the atmosphere. Large indoor livestock facilities contribute carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the machinery used to care for the animals in addition to the methane produced by the animals. These larger indoor facilities are much more harmful compared to smaller open range farms. The meat that comes from these larger facilities tends to go to larger chain grocery stores and fast food restaurants. The meat they produce contains more hormones and preservatives that can be harmful to your health as well as the environment.

High Demand Foods

Meat is one of the well known food groups that causes harm to the environment, but did you know that sugar, coffee, nuts, avocados, and rice also contribute to a large percentage of harmful degradation to the environment? All of these foods require a huge amount of water for their production and are processed in factories that use fossil fuels. Additionally, all of these foods are in high demand, which has led to the increase in forest degradation in order to clear out land to plant crops. A second category of high demand foods are processed snacks such as potato chips and candy. Snacks have become wildly popular due to their convenience and nonperishable properties. Many snacks are made in factories that use lots of preservatives, bad chemicals, and additives that are bad for your health and the environment. Additionally, snacks are typically made with plastic wrappings that cannot be recycled. 

Imports

Fruits, vegetables, and grains grow according to climate and have season-based harvest cycles. That means, to keep the grocery stores stocked with all types of food all year round, we are required to import certain foods from all over the world. Imports come to the United States via boats, trains, and even planes. These are all large means of transportation that heavily use fossil fuels and contribute to the carbon dioxide emissions in the air.

What you can do instead

Shop Local

Buying from your local farmers market and your small local grocery stores is beneficial to the environment. If you eat meat, we won’t tell you to stop eating meat, but we believe that the meat from a local butcher is less harmful to the environment. This type of livestock was not grown in an indoor facility, was fed less hormones and grain with less pesticides, and often comes from farms that practice regenerative agriculture. In addition to shopping locally you can make sure to shop for products that are seasonal. Produce that has not had to travel long distances to get to your grocery store has less of an impact on the environment. 

Homemade Snacks

Instead of buying pre-packaged snacks at the grocery store, try making your own! You can look for some of your favorite recipes online for snacks such as potato chips, granola bars, and muffins. You can also look to buy foods that do not come in individual packaging such as carrots, tomatoes, and celery. Some grocery stores even have a package free grains where you can bring and fill your own containers.

Compost

Start your own compost pile so that you are sending less food down the disposal or to the landfill. Compost can be created using nitrogen and carbon based components. Overtime, branches and plant-based foods break down into a material that you can put right back into your garden. It is not only filled with nutrients but also is beneficial to the ecosystem. Less machinery that produces fossil fuels need to be used to discard old food waste. 

There are countless options that you can choose from when deciding what to eat that can have a big impact on reducing carbon emissions if we all start making greener choices one step at time. If you tried any of these ideas or have tips of your own, please share with us @Act_Neutral

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