A close friend of mine recently told me a story about an experience she had in middle school where her class used a popular fast food restaurant as an environmental case-study. Encouraged by her teacher, she was one of several students who made a protest at a nearby restaurant by asking for their hamburgers to be served on paper napkins instead of in the Styrofoam clam-shell container that was still being used at that time. They were accompanied by a reporter, and the story made quite an impact, appearing in newspapers and on local television. It made a cute human-interest story, and the fast food chain actually discontinued use of the Styrofoam clam-shells shortly thereafter. Her entire class all felt very proud of themselves, but what seemed like enough then now just feels like the tip of the iceberg.
Fast food is still a long way away from being part of a healthy diet, and certainly a long way away from being environmentally friendly. A truly healthy diet is one that is abundant in whole foods; fruits, vegetables, grains, and foods that have not been processed. As Jillian Michaels has said, “If it didn’t come from the ground, and it didn’t have a mother, DON’T EAT IT.” I.e. It’s not a “real” food. This concept isn’t new. It’s part of the “clean eating” movement to eat actual food, not Frankenfood.
As we become more interested in our health, we move towards:
- Less packaged food, eventually eliminating most (if not all) food that comes in packages.
- Fewer preservatives & chemicals, choosing whole foods that have not been tampered with.
- Increased inclination towards local & organic food.
- Less meat and fish, which is unsustainable at the current rates of consumption.
The food we eat determines not only how healthy we are, but also makes up a good part of our global footprint. As consumers, our daily food decisions give us great power to shape the way we produce, process, transport, and use food. The choices we make for our diet can promote healthier people, more secure food supplies, and thriving communities. It’s all about fostering a system that nurtures sustainability.
When making food choices, choosing lots of locally grown in-season produce, consuming less meat and packaged foods, and buying more organic products, we can reduce the negative effect on the environment by as much as 27 percent.
There are so many reasons to eat a healthy diet, and the environment is another positive that you can add to your list. It’s doubly gratifying; you’ll be nourishing your body and reducing your global impact all in one fell swoop. It just makes sense.
Jennie Lyon is a green lifestyle writer and the owner of Sweet Greens, the award-winning green lifestyle blog. She posts on simple, fun ways families can go green together – starting with her own. When she isn’t blogging, you will find her paddleboarding, sailing, beach-combing, camping, or spending time with her amazing husband and 14-year old son.