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Adopt a Low Carbon Diet and Help Curb Further Global Climate Change

This article first appears in naturalnews.com on August 1, 2009

For decades, people have begun to choose vegan and vegetarian diets over more resource-consuming standard diets. The last ten years have also given rise to an additional type of earth-conscious eater: the raw vegan. People choose these diets for health, environmental, animal rights, and also spiritual reasons. Now we sit on the threshold of a new global issue that requires our awareness and action: rapidly arising global climate change. We can help to combat this change with our dietary choices. The newest diet to directly address this issue is increasingly known as the “Low Carbon Diet.”

Our diet is one of the largest causes of greenhouse gas emissions

Some estimates predict that one third of our greenhouse gas emissions comes from our food and agriculture industries (1). The current structure of our agricultural production and distribution infrastructure is based upon profit-driven methods and outmoded technologies. Corporations, by definition, strive toward continual profit and growth (2). The greatest challenge to this is that care for human and earth wellness falls second to the corporation’s own need for continual profit and growth. In other words, one cannot assume that a company cares for the interests of Earth or human health and well-being. Their own growth is more important than health interests. The result of this is competitive behavior and also, quite often, harmful choices that do not consider long-term health costs for people, animals, or the planet.

The current agricultural structure is very dependent upon machinery, pesticides, watering methods, and large distribution distances that require very large amounts of petroleum or petroleum byproducts in order to complete the processes. In addition, food is commonly shipped 1000s of miles to destinations for purchasing and consumption. All of these factors add to the “carbon footprint” of the foods that we eat.

Meat and dairy, conventional produce, and long-distance shipping all add to our destructive, non-sustainable dilemma

Even the food choices themselves lend themselves to a high carbon footprint, excessive resource consumption, and erosion or destruction of the soil. This is the result of both the current methods of production but also often the inherent nature of required resources used to complete the production process.

Meat and dairy production uses more resources, requires more tracts of open land, causes erosion, and leads to declines of mineral quality in topsoil. Vegetarians have long cited this as a strong reason to choose to eat less or no meat and dairy within their diets.

Conventional produce, similarly, is grown with use of pesticides and herbicides that are both toxic as well as commonly made from petroleum derivatives. Conventional farming practices fill our landscape, our food, and also our bodies with toxic chemical residues. Pesticides are designed to kill, and they do not know when to stop killing. We are filling the planet and our bodies with chemicals that are designed to kill life. These practices are transforming our world and our bodies into toxic waste dumps.

A quick example is human breast milk, which studies have found to be contaminated with “DDT (the banned but stubbornly persistent pesticide famous for nearly wiping out the bald eagle), PCB’s, dioxin, trichloroethylene, perchlorate, mercury, lead, benzene, arsenic” and more (3).

Food wastes and over-consumption also add to the carbon footprint of our diets

Commercial restaurants throw away at least 54 billion pounds of food each year (4). Individual consumers, also, throw away over a pound of food each day on average into trash cans, compost, or down the disposal. Also, American tendencies to overeat contribute not only to wasted resources but also poor quality of health across our nation. In 2009, a UN report found that “over half of the food produced globally (and in the U.S.) is lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain, including as much as one-quarter of all fresh fruits and vegetables” (5).

By choosing low carbon footprint foods, we as consumers can make a large impact on global climate change with our dietary choices

Simple adjustments to our diets and choices can really help the planet and, as a result, the future generations of this world (6). This power lies within our own hands, with each choice that we make.

1. Reduce or eliminate consumption of meat, seafood, and dairy products.
2. Buy food that has been grown locally and do not often buy food that has been imported from other nations or shipped 1000s of miles. Also, grow your own food.
3. Meet your local farmers and buy food from them or local farmer’s markets.
4. Choose to buy only organic produce.
5. Stop buying bottled water and, instead, buy a high-quality water filter for your home faucet.
6. Bicycle, walk, or carpool to buy your food rather than drive.
7. Grow your own organic herbs, peppers, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other foods that are very easy to grow.
8. Eat more native produce (foods that naturally grow in your own area).
9. Buy natural foods (fruits and vegetables) rather than packaged or processed foods that had to be prepared in a factory and then shipped long distances.
10. Buy bulk rather than packaged foods.
11. Eat locally-grown fruits rather than processed or packaged desserts.
12. Compost your food remains rather than throwing them down the sink or into the trashcan.
13. Choose to drink more water and less coffee, sodas, or other packaged, processed drinks.
14. Eat more raw food and cook food less.

Because the world faces immense changes that could greatly reduce biodiversity on Earth and also greatly increase human and animal suffering, it is very helpful that we make simple choices that can really help to turn the tides back in favor of a healthy, diverse, and thriving planet.

Sources
1. Data from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Third Assessment Report
2. Mander, Jerry. In The Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco: 1995. Jerry Mander’s “Eleven Inherent Rules of Corporate Behavior” also can be found in Earth Island Journal , Winter 94, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p30.
3. NYT Magazine, January 9, 2005, “Toxic Breast Milk?” By Florence Williams
4. Source: http://www.circleofresponsibility.com/page/321/low-carbon-diet.htm
5. Source: http://www.circleofresponsibility.com/page/321/low-carbon-diet.htm

 






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