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Issue 16: Take Weight Off the World With Sustainable Food

Take Weight Off the World with Sustainable Food

You can participate in a burgeoning movement called “sustainable food,” which means the establishment of a shorter food chain by consumers and restaurant chefs eager to buy meat, fruits, and vegetables produced locally. Currently, only 1 to 2 percent of America’s food is locally grown, and the produce you eat is shipped an average of 1,500 miles to your local supermarket, according to a study by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.

The transportation of lettuce or any type of food—or just about anything we do in life—leaves a “carbon footprint,” a term referring to the impact that human activity has on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Eating foods shipped from another state, driving a car, taking an airline flight, and heating and air conditioning our homes are some of the everyday examples of leaving a “carbon footprint” on the planet.

The leaders of the sustainable food movement urge consumers to leave a smaller carbon footprint by seeking out local organic alternatives to mainstream food from co-ops, natural food stores, farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and backyard gardens and fruit-bearing trees. Every time you shop locally for food, your buying decision has ramifications for the health of your body as well as the planet.

While purchasing organic apples from Washington State, organic strawberries from California’s Salinas Valley, and organic avocados from San Diego County sends an important message to agribusiness—namely, you’re choosing organic over conventionally grown produce—shopping for organic fruits and vegetables grown locally (or growing your own lettuce, tomatoes, fruits, and vegetables in your backyard) sends an even better message: you’re trying to live a more sustainable life that places less environmental demands on the planet. You’re attempting to meet the physical needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to provide for their own needs.

Living sustainably is an important part of “living green,” which is the idea that we should use our natural resources wisely to restore and maintain a balanced world. The choices we make every day regarding the food we eat, how much water and energy we consume, the type of cleaning products we use in the home, and the kind of car (and how often) we drive have a positive or negative impact on the earth.

It’s important to take weight off the world, too, you know.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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