An increasingly important question to ask when it comes to agriculture and how we eat is "Is it sustainable?" What is Sustainable Agriculture?
Sustainable Agriculture is a model of social and economic organization with the vision of meeting society's present food needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainable agriculture is applied to the production of food or animal products using farming techniques and practices that help to conserve natural resources and have minimal impact on the environment.
The answer to the above question is, of course eating can be and should be sustainable for better health and a better environment. To simplify, Sustainable Eating is choosing foods that are healthful to our environment and our bodies. The food we eat has an impact on land and water systems. 70% of the water taken from freshwater lakes and rivers is used for agriculture. The agriculture industry causes 60% of deforestation, clearing land for farming. Therefore, the question is how is it possible to eat sustainably?
According to the 2019 EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, a global shift toward more plant-based foods including legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and less animal-based foods will help feed the world's growing population a nutritious and sustainable diet. Limiting refined grains and added sugars is a smart move as well.
As people shift from foods grown using unsustainable strategies, the entire production line is forced to adapt to sustainable operations. Let's head towards sustainable eating by trying to be more environmentally conscious.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, an expert on sustainable development and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, wrote: “Like all living species, humanity depends on nature for food and water, materials for survival, and safety from dire environmental threats, such as epidemics and natural catastrophes. Yet for a species that depend on the beneficence of nature, or on what the scientists call ‘environmental services,’ we are doing a poor job of protecting the physical basis of our very survival!”
The best way to support the benefits of sustainable farming is to eat sustainably. Below are some tips to get you fueled:
1. Prioritize Plant and Minimize Meat
According to The Healthy Eating Plate Shifting to a more plant-based way of eating will help reduce freshwater withdrawals and deforestation. The Healthy Eating Plate already suggests reducing red meat as it is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. One should consider picking non-meat proteins such as nuts and legumes for the sake of one's own health as well as that of the earth.
2. Shop Locally
Shopping locally is a fun way to support one's community. Exploring farmers' markets helps one to find fresh produce grown locally and fosters a healthy environment of diversity. When you purchase foods that were grown locally, it cuts down on the amount of fuel needed to ship the food to your market.
3. Growing your own Food
Growing your own food means that you have cut the need to transport food over long distances using vehicles that release emissions into the environment. Additionally, it will help to absorb some carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using your food crops. Note that growing your own food does not mean you require a large piece of land. It could be herbs in a pot, tomatoes on a patio, or a small plot in your yard.
4. Talk about Sustainable Eating
It becomes easier to march forward when working as a community. Therefore, one should consider carrying the conversation to close friends and encourage them to also adopt sustainable eating. Also, talking with the farmers at your market can help you discover new tips, learn about new resources, and find more local, sustainably-minded food producers and providers.
5. Watch what you eat
One of the simplest things you can do is focusing on what you’re eating. It allows you to reflect on where your food came from and how it is nourishing your body. By being more attentive to how we eat and thinking about the “bigger picture,” we may change our food consumption and reduce food waste, as well as become encouraged to seek out more sustainable food sources.
Let's take a step ahead, let's be greener and sustainable whilst eating.
1. Harvard T.H.Chan, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/
2. Barclay E. A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up.