OC Green Clean Blog

Living a Green Lifestyle – Part 4: Your Food Choices

Posted on October 15th, 2014 and filed under Green Living

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When it comes to living green lifestyles, many people fail to realize that their choices of food are extremely important. Unfortunately, those delicious bags of chips, “fresh” produce and packages of meat that you purchase from your local supermarket are doing a lot more harm to the environment and your body that you may think.  In this article, we will discuss the changes that processed foods have made to the environment, and what types of food choices you should be making for yourself in order to live the greenest lifestyle as possible.

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How the Industrial Food Production Process Harms Mother Nature:

Air Pollution

In most cases, livestock animals are confined for most of their lives during the process of industrial meat production. Due to this unsettling fact, large amounts of dangerous noxious gases such as ammonia, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide are released into the environment.

Water Pollution

While attempting to grow produce, many hormones, fertilizers, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals leak into the water table. When this occurs, an array of problems arise, such as dying fish and unclean drinking water.

Overuse of Energy

A great deal of energy is used in the industrial food system. Believe it or not, many scientists estimate that 40 percent of the energy that is used during processed food production goes towards the release of polluting substances, including pesticides, fertilizer and carbon dioxide.

Dead Zones

Water runoff contains a plethora of nutrients from the fertilizers used during industrial processes. This water is consumed by huge algae blooms in many different waterways like the Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The fertilizers cause the blooms to grow and spread for miles, therefore, starving the marine life in the area of the oxygen that they need to survive.

As it is clear to see, a lot of harm is done to the environment when it comes to producing most of the processed food items that make their home on your grocery store’s shelves. If you want to successfully practice green living, it is essential that you make a conscious effort to purchase products from companies that live up to the same principles. The good news is that there are plenty of ways that you can easily fill your grocery cart with healthy, sustainable and family-pleasing foods!

Tips on Shopping for Eco-Friendly Foods

Better Brands

One of the best ways to ensure the food you are buying is eco-friendly is to choose brands that are known for their earth-conscious practices. Some popular brands include Newman’s Own Organics, Ella’s Kitchen, Eden Organic, NOW Foods, Frontier Natural Products and Grounds for Change. Each one of these companies have proven to be 100 percent committed to providing people with substantially produce foods that not only benefit the environment, but farmers and their customers, too!

Organic foods are the absolute best option for those with green lifestyles because these products are certified free of most conventional pesticides, bioengineering and synthetic fillers. This is good for both your health and the environment.  These can commonly be purchased at stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Sprouts.  Even regular supermarkets like Vons and Ralphs often have an organic produce section We are fortunate in Orange County that there are so many healthy options.

Shop Local

Another excellent way to better your food choices is by shopping local. Those fresh blueberries that you buy at the store were probably air-freighted from a foreign country, which means they are leaving behind a huge carbon footprint. Most produce sold in grocery stores in the United States travel between 1,200 to 2,000 miles before they land at the supermarket. Reducing that distance by shopping at your local farmer’s market can help to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, you’ll probably find that produce that only traveled about ten to twenty minutes to get to your crisper tastes significantly better than those that flew thousands of miles across the country. After all, who doesn’t prefer the taste of fresh produce? It will be as if you walked right to your backyard and picked it yourself, but without all the work!

Limit Meat and Dairy Products

Most animal-based food products require massive amounts of energy to produce, specifically in the form of feed. They also create extra waste, such as manure and greenhouse emissions. WIth that being said, reducing the amount of dairy and meat in your diet is an effective strategy to continue on with your green living. If meat takes up a large portion of your diet, consider grass-fed alternatives. When they are fed grass rather than soy or corn, there are typically no toxic pesticides or fertilizers used on the farm, which in turn makes their meat much more eco-friendly.

Summary

Those who strive to live green lifestyles need to be aware of the foods that they are buying. Making healthy choices not only benefits your body, but it benefits the environment as well. Swap out processed foods for organic options and skip out on supermarket produce and take a trip to the local farmer’s market. Ease into the transition by opting for at least one organic item next time that you go shopping. Once some time goes by, you’ll be well on your way to green living!

 

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