There’s a big push to “go green” these days, and tons of information out there to help you live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Many people don’t realize that the daily foods you choose to eat have an enormous impact on the environment. In this post, I’m talking about the benefits of a GREEN diet in three ways: Making sure your food choices are eco-friendly, reducing your consumption of animal products, and making sure your diet is filled with green veggies.
1. Make sure your food is eco-friendly and sustainable.
One of the main ways to ensure a green and sustainable diet is by buying LOCALLY. This means purchasing foods from local vendors, especially farmer’s markets. Most cities are catching on and supporting farmer’s markets multiple times a week. There’s a great one here in Albuquerque, which is where I am at the moment. The reason buying local is so important is because it reduces the energy cost of transporting foods across long distances. When food comes from far away, it has to be driven on a truck, refrigerated, processed and packaged. That translates to a whole lot of gas, and lots of energy for refrigeration and preservation. Also, there is a possibility that chemicals will be added to keep the food fresh, not to mention the materials used to package it. ALL of those factors are eliminated when we buy produce that’s grown close to us!
Not only that, but buying local produce also promotes a much healthier and more delicious lifestyle. The reason is that foods that are grown near you and sold at local farmers markets are fresh, in season, and have more time to ripen on the vine and have a higher content of minerals and phytonutrients.
Also, buying locally promotes eating a diet that relies mostly on fruits and vegetables, instead of processed items. Once you get in the habit of going to local farmers markets, fruit stands, or to the “locally grown” section of the supermarket, it will become a fun ritual. You’ll feel good about yourself for helping the planet, and you’ll be supplying you and your family with delicious foods! Food that’s grown locally is always what’s in season near you, and you know it’s going to be super fresh because it hasn’t traveled halfway across the country to get in your shopping bag!
2. Reduce your consumption of animal products.
If we really want to be “green”, it is essential to look at the environmental impact of what we are choosing to eat and put on our plates on a daily basis. As I point out in The Beauty Detox Solution:
A 2006 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cited livestock production as “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
Among many of its shocking findings and summaries, the FAO reports that livestock production accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world’s cars & SUVs combined. 2.4 billion tons of livestock-induced CO2 emissions are a result of the deforestation of over 7.4 million acres of trees cut for pastures and feed crop land each year.
The livestock sector is the leading contributor to water pollution by nitrogen and phosphorous in the United States, and also pollutes large amount of pesticides and antibiotics into the water. 1/3 of fossil fuel consumption in the United States goes to animal agriculture.
Putting all other issues aside, such as health and beauty issues, animal rights, etc. the indisputable fact remains: eating animal products is environmentally destructive. If you do choose to eat some animal products, be conscious of limiting them and incorporating more vegetarian options into your diet, and make it a point of sourcing your animal products from local, smaller farms.
3. Ensuring your diet is greens-based, including mostly green leafy vegetables:
Following with the “green” theme, I want to talk about how important it is to eat lots of green vegetables. As we cut back on our animal products as mentioned in Point #2, it is important to fill that gap with abundant plant foods, not processed or commercial foods. Our planet has abundant plant food on it, both in wild and cultivated forms, and when you start exploring local produce, you’ll discover a whole new world of green leafy vegetables, some of which you’ve never heard of. In The Beauty Detox Solution, and in previous blog posts, I talk about the amazing benefits in green veggies. They’re absolutely packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that will make you look and feel amazing. Green veggies are full of fiber and naturally low in calories, so they will keep you feeling satisfied all day long, helping you achieve weight loss goals. You will also notice a healthy glow in your skin, and you’ll have tons of energy.
Of course I always talk about my Glowing Green Smoothie as a great way to get a big dose of greens first thing in the morning. It’s the easiest way to get lots of nutrients right away. But the Glowing Green Smoothie is not the only way to get those great nutrients in your diet. There are so many delicious greens to add to salads, eat raw, or incorporate into your usual dishes. Of course once you start eating locally, you’ll start eating more healthy green veggies, which will help your body naturally detoxify itself. It’s a great way for you to achieve your weight loss and health goals, while helping the environment as well.
Here’s a list of some of my favorites:
— Dandelion greens
H. Steinfeld et al., Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Livestock, Environment and Development (2006).