Have you ever wondered how your food ends up on your plate? The truth is, when it comes to environmental sustainability, economic stability and world hunger, food plays a pretty important role. There are many factors that make for a sustainable eating culture that go unnoticed as we produce food on a much larger scale than ever before, accompanied by an unchecked increase in world hunger.
According to research, food security has become a huge global issue, where nearly 1 billion people suffer from undernourishment and more than double that number suffer from low nutrition, lacking iron, zinc and Vitamin A. “This ‘hidden hunger’ can cause great damage to people’s health and to their productive lives because economic growth really suffers with undernourishment,” says Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute.
What’s more jarring is that the everyday American eats 209 pounds of meat per year, while over 80 percent of starving children live in countries that invest their food in feeding livestock that will ultimately be consumed by Western nations. Globally, about half of all grain is fed to animals. In a nutshell: the cows eat the grain, and the rich eat the cows. This current model creates an imbalance that seriously harms and exploits the environment, its people and animals.
The question is: what can we do, as citizens of this planet, to reduce our carbon footprint, live with more compassion and put in place a better system? Our food choices can make a huge difference – in our lives and the lives of others. So, don’t take them lightly.
BE CURIOUS: FOOD EDUCATION
First thing’s first: Do you know how your food ended up on your plate? Are you aware of how far it has traveled? If you want to learn more about the meat industry, one of the best documentaries out there will have to be Cowspiracy.
Another great way of learning about food and produce is by choosing local grocers and farmer’s markets. This way you increase your chances of coming into contact with food that is seasonal, organic and grown with love and care while also supporting your local community. The best part is that you meet people who are seriously passionate about food and have a lot of first-hand experience to pass on. Think about it: food is something we all consume daily. Shouldn’t we know more about where it comes from?
PLANT > MEAT
The meat and dairy industries are responsible a great amount of waste and pollution. With the increase in population and production, the planet just can’t handle this kind of consumption anymore.
Switching to a plant-based diet is one of the easiest ways of significantly reducing your carbon footprint – and improving your health. While the idea of transforming our diet entirely may be daunting, consider taking small steps that can make a difference. Every thought about reducing your meat and dairy intake? How about going vegetarian or vegan for just a few days of the week?
SAY ‘NO’ TO WASTE
We can’t talk about sustainability without mentioning waste, which can be reduced right off the bat by reducing your meat and dairy consumption. But let’s also think about the basics: Shop responsibly so that you don’t throw away food. Discard of waste more responsibly by composting – it’s nature’s way of recycling.
Another wasteful aspect of the food industry is its packaging. Think about all the food we buy that’s packaged or bagged in plastic. Instead, taking your own bags and shopping in bulk are great ways of reducing packaging and plastic.
PRACTICE YOUR FAITH
I believe that if we follow the true teachings of our faith, then we’d live much more sustainably. We’re encouraged to think about our communities, to have compassion for all living things and to take care of our bodies and the planet. For me, the more I encounter nature and its beauty, the closer I feel to God and the clearer the message becomes: We have one home, so let’s take better care of it.