Food is a wonderful thing. It’s crucial to our survival; providing us with energy and nutrients that support growth and essential bodily functions like breathing and digesting. Food is an essential part of every culture with recipes and ideas passed down from generation to generation, communicating the unique histories, lifestyles, values, and beliefs of the people who prepare it. Food is the great equalizer and brings people from all walks of life together. Every October, both the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the American Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) each carve out a day in the calendar to celebrate food and encourage people to develop healthier, more sustainable dietary habits.
EnviroForensics Works to Make the World Healthier
EnviroForensics strives to make the world a healthier place through our environmental investigation and remediation work, but we also want people to live healthier lives in general. That’s why we’re celebrating National Food Day this year by promoting healthy eating habits that also produce positive outcomes in the world through a pitch-in.
How Your Diet Impacts the World
You may not be aware of this, but your dietary choices have unintended consequences that send ripples across the globe. Meat, dairy, and non-seasonal fruit use up land and water resources and burn up fossil fuels in order to be transported to your local grocery store.
The rise of globalization has put both the world’s agricultural system and population’s overall health on an unsustainable path. We’re eating more starches, sugars, fats, and processed foods and leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles. According to the UN, 670 million adults and 120 million children are considered obese, while 820 million people suffer from hunger or some form of food insecurity.
You can take action to stop these trends. Here are a few changes you can make in your own diet that can make a difference globally:
1. Avoid foods that require a lot of natural resources to produce
Meats, poultry, and fish require significantly more natural resources to produce and transport. Incorporate more grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts in your diet instead.
2. Avoid foods that require a lot of packaging
Shop in the produce section, and the bulk food aisles. You can bring your own reusable containers into these parts of the grocery store. Here’s a list of grocery stores in your area that allow you to do this.
3. Eat sustainably sourced meat
If you do don’t want to make the wholesale switch to a vegetarian diet, there are more sustainable options for your meat, poultry, and fish. Your local Farmer’s Market will likely feature a variety of protein options that are responsibly raised, produced, or sourced near you. To find a Farmer’s Market near you, check out the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory.
You can also subscribe to eco-friendly meal kit programs. Here’s a list of 8 great options. Meal kits are a suitable alternative to ordering in, they often source their meats and produce locally, and everything comes in the exact quantities and servings needed, so you’re not wasting any food.
4. Eat with people and cook at home
Eating with people is important for your physical and mental health. Researchers have linked eating in company with lower rates of obesity and childhood eating disorders.
5. Learn how to read labels
- Figure out your daily calorie intake needs
- Learn about added sugars
- Eat food that has fewer and easier–to–pronounce ingredients
- Avoid saturated fats
- Know that you can still eat something if the “best before” date has passed
- Know that it’s probably time to get rid of an item if the “use by” date has passed
6. Get moving
Doctors recommend 2 ½ hours of physical activity a week. It can be as leisurely as walking or biking to work or as intense as a 30-minute CrossFit workout.
7. Talk to people and share healthy food ideas
- Now that you’re committed to a healthier lifestyle, get your friends and family involved
- Learn how to cook or swap recipes with friends
- Grow your own food
- Participate in a community garden
- Organize dinners with friends and family
This post is brought to you by the EnviroForensics Sustainability Council
The EnviroForensics Sustainability Council advances education through community relations and implements sustainable practices in our operations and facilities.