The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has long been an advocate of reducing the climate impact associated with the foods we eat. Recently, it recognized leaders in the field of sustainable food through the Growing Green Awards, including initial winners:
Will Allen of Growing Power, Fedele Bauccio of Bon Appétit Management Company and James Harvie of Institute for a Sustainable Future, in the categories of Food Producer, Business Leader and Thought Leader, respectively.
While these visionary leaders carry some significant weight, there is much each of us can do in reducing the impact of our food choices. The NRDC Food Facts: Eat Green brochure outlines several simple steps, which I summarize below. For more information, including specific recommendations, visit the NRDC site.
Choose Climate-Friendly Food
Not too surprising, beef tops the list as the least environmentally-friendly food (check out graphic in NRDC report). When you consider the life-cycle analysis of the food we eat, including upstream energy required to produce the feed that animals eat, as well as downstream processing, it turns out that the higher something is on the food chain, the larger its footprint.
Buy Organic and Other Sustainable Certifications
In addition to health benefits associated with synthetic fertilizer- and pesticide-free foods, organic agriculture is often better than conventional agriculture in reducing global warming pollution. Visit Consumer Reports for a list of label to look for.
Watch Your Waste
Possibly one of the more shocking facts, or at least one that really disappointed me, is that “an astonishing 27 percent of all food (by weight) produced for people in the United States is either thrown away or is used for a lower-value purpose, like animal feed.” Yet we have Monsanto parading around the globe claiming there isn’t enough food to feed the hungry, making Monsanto’s otherwise self-serving claim that much more difficult to refute.
We’ve all probably heard that the average American meal travels 1500 food miles, but did you also know that that meal also contains ingredients from five countries? Local purchases of fresh produce, as well as lightly processed foods, e.g., cheese, bread, milk, can make a big impact throughout our conventional food system.
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