24 February 2009

welcome to the church of the holy cabbage. lettuce pray

Recently I have been doing a lot of research on food production as this is one of ways in which the environment is impacted. Not only is food growing an energy intensive process as it is largely dependent on fossil fuel resources, there are several steps in the production process that uses energy. Transportation of food not only domestically but also internationally contributes towards a large part of what I like to call 'foobon' footprint which is specifically carbon footprint of food. Additionally consuming packaged, frozen, processed food contributes towards this not only during the process itself but also the disposal of waste material created in the process.

The obesity epidemic we are currently seeing even in the developing world is tied into the way we view and consume food. This in turn is tied into the way we can change our eating habits in order to reduce individual foobon footprint. This will eventually lead to a healthy system and a cleaner planet.

I'm not touting becoming vegetarian or vegan or anything which seems extreme although people with these food habits usually have a lower foobon footprint. However, what I am promoting is eating locally, seasonally and if/where possible organically.

Eating locally produced food grown within a 100mile radius of where you live not only reduces energy used to transport food but also boosts local economy. In the bargain, the food you consume is fresher - better yet, if you have enough space grow your own vegetables and herbs. Even very small apartments have enough space for a herb-box at the very least.

Eating seasonally means you only eat fruits and vegetables which are grown in that season which means you reduce air-miles of those food which are brought in from other parts of the world.

Eating organic means cultivation of food without chemical pesticides and herbicides which is better for the soil. It also means that fresh food tastes better than chemically grown fruit and veg. Additionally, as a side point - eat whole-grain which is not only better for your body but also is less processed. Buy fair-trade where possible as it is a socially-responsible way to eat.

All this brings us to the great meat debate. Is there a greener way to eat meat? It is well known that the production of red-meat is energy intensive and releases methane. Again I would suggest eating locally or buying from a butcher rather than a supermarket which atleast reduces packaging and energy used in the packaging process. With most commercial fish species now endangered, the greenest way to consume seafood is to make sure it is sourced from ecologically managed fisheries. White meat from free-range farms generally have a lower foobon footprint. Finally if you are not inclined to become vegetarian then reduce the amount of meat you eat. The green stuff is better for you anyway!

Finally you are what you eat. And since eating habits are so deeply tied into ecological and biological systems, think before you munch.

No comments: