sustainablility and eating

Eating for sustainability and better health

Sustainability is a term we hear more and more, but what does that have to do with eating and health? The main concept is that we can choose food that is both healthy for our bodies and doesn’t contribute to the destruction of our environment.

Specifically, sustainable eating means choosing foods with a consciousness to protect the diversity of our plants and animals as well preserving our natural resources, such as water. It means choosing foods that don’t contribute less to climate change. Many include humane treatment of farm animals, and protecting the health of agricultural workers as part of sustainability.

The good thing is that if you eat sustainably, you will be eating in a healthier way as well. Here are a few hints to help you become a more sustainable food consumer.

Eating for sustainability

1) Eat less meat, especially beef

Beef is not only expensive at the supermarket, but it demands a huge environmental cost as well. It has been said that “There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock”. A cow consumes from 75 to 300 kg. of dry matter (grass or grain) to produce one kilogram of protein.

A 2013 United Nations report estimated that the raising of livestock is responsible for 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is equal to the contribution to the global emissions from all cars, trucks, busses, and other transport combined. For every kilogram of beef consumed, 27 kg. of greenhouse gases are produced. Pork is less damaging to the environment, with 12 kg. of gases produced for each kilogram consumed, and chicken is the most climate efficient meat (7 kg. of gases produced for each kg. consumed).

So if you eat beef every day, you might switch to chicken a few days a week, or even better, consider legumes and beans as additional protein sources. These are hugely less damaging to the environment, and also much healthier, supplying you with fiber and antioxidants, while avoiding the saturated fats found especially in beef.

2) Avoid processed food

By definition, processed food—for example, salami, bacon, breakfast cereals, convenience or junk food, sodas, packaged snacks, and canned foods—require much more resources than food you make yourself. Generally, processed foods contain chemicals that have been linked to the development of cancer, and the processing often strips away the healthy antioxidants and nutrients.

3) Shop at your farmer’s market

Vegetables from large chain stores are more likely to have been transported a long distance to get to the store. Not only does this waste gas, increase traffic and pollution, but also the longer the produce takes to get to you, the more nutrition is looses. So to eat healthier, buy local.

 4) Buy organic when you can

Yes, organic does cost more but it takes much more care to produce vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meats that are raised without chemicals, hormones, or pesticides. And, while the research is not definitive, since organics are raised in healthier soil and environments, they are often richer in anti-oxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Organic farming respects the soil and protects it for future generations.

We have just scratched the surface of this topic, but we hope that these hints will help you think more carefully about what you eat. And fortunately, often what is good for the planet is good for our bodies as well.

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See also in ProcuraMed:

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)