Sometimes the larger issues that we read about and we know are reaching a critical point seem so monumental a sense of powerlessness can overwhelm us, global warming can be one of these issues. But, the good news is there are many things that each of us can do on a daily basis to halt and even reverse this frightening trend. The food that we buy and eat is one way that we can each make a difference.
Sometimes more conscious food choices seem more expensive but the reality is the price we pay for food goes far beyond what we pay at the checkout line. What may seem cheaper actually has wide reaching costs that are not only expensive but dangerous.Here are a few ideas of how your shopping choices can help reduce global warming.
Buy Local and Organic
Buying local supports your community, reduces transportation ‘costs’ on the environment and provides you with more variety, fresher, and better tasting food. When we shop locally we drastically reduce the amount of pollution that is a normal part of the food equation. Fewer trucks traveling long distances means less oil used and less pollution created. In general local farms do not use the chemical fertilizers that large industrial farms use so we help reduce the environmental pollution associated with chemical fertilizers. Organic farmers do not use any chemical fertilizers so when you buy organic you know that your choice is a step towards reducing environmental pollution, a contributor to global warming.
But be sure what you are buying is truly local. More and more businesses are co-opting the term to deceive the public. Read about Lay’s newest campaign calling their potato chips a local product.
The difference between a local family owned farm and an industrial farm is pretty obvious, you can read about the specifics. As you will read the effects on the land, community, environment and even the variety of what is available to eat is profound. Often family farms also raise animals and the manure can be used as fertilizer rather than becoming a hazardous material, one more way that smaller farms are less wasteful and in effect safer.
SInce local farms tend to leave a smaller carbon footprint just buying local can make a significant impact towards reducing global warming.
Reduce or eliminate eating meat.
To start, the carbon footprint for meat is much higher than for growing fruit, vegetables and grain. The largest source of greenhouse gases comes from the meat industry, over 18%, which is 40% more than from transportation. So you help reduce greenhouse gases more by cutting down on eating meat than buying that new fuel efficient car (but it is still a good idea).
Cows emit methane gas from their flatulence and burps, and the huge amounts of manure from feedlots add to the problem by releasing nitrous oxide into the air. Research shows that methane gas and nitrous oxide contribute more to climate change than carbon dioxide. Naturally raised cows emit much less methane and their rmanure is utilized as fertilizer.
More than 90%of the amazon rainforest cleared since 1970 has been used for grazing land. So this adds to the problem in two ways, first we lose the oxygen producing trees and second they are replaced with methane and nitrous oxide producing cows. Plus producing beef is really inefficient. It takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef. Most of the grain fed to cattle in the US is corn and this is subsidized by the government. So while the price of meat may seem cheap we are all paying in our taxes to support these subsidies…plus, cows are not meant to eat corn, it just makes them fatter and sicker.
If you do eat meat when you buy from sustainable ranchers you support a change in the way livestock is raised. These cows are grass fed, manure is used as fertilizer, and these ranches leave a very small carbon footprint. Plus the animals are cared for and raised humanely, not treated as merely a commodity to get the highest price in the shortest time.
This video is on meat and global warming.
Buy from companies that practice sustainable growing and business practices.
The choices that we make in which companies we support can have a profound effect on the growth or diminishing of global warming. When a company is committed to sustainable practices it filters through their entire business operation.
If an industrial farm doesn’t care about polluting the ground water, or poisoning the local community they certainly are not going to be energy conscious or recycling. However when a company is committed to operating in a sustainable manner we find that this infiltrates every part of their business from using recycled materials, recycling, being energy efficient, and in general aware of their impact on their community. They also tend to be an integrated part of the community rather than just an intruder, around to make a buck and move on if the area is no longer profitable.
By supporting such businesses we are using our valuable dollars to make a statement that we interested and concerned with the bigger picture. Plus, with all of the tax subsidies going to industrial farming we also are making a statement that we will no longer support such irresponsible practices that have so many negative effects.
As is obvious this is an issue where one choice has wide reaching effects. Just looking at meat production we see how many different areas are impacted by factory farming, and the pollution that is created. The same can be said for industrial farming. In the end all we have to do is look around America and ask are we a healthier nation because of these so called “improvements” in providing food. The answer is a definitive “NO”.
All of these opportunities empower us to make a difference. Our dollars speak loudly and can govern the direction that business takes in terms of their practices. When big business sees that irresponsibility is hurting their bottom line they will make changes and in the meantime we will know that we are contributing to reducing global warming by the choices that we make.
This is a comprehensive article about food in America today, and more steps that we can take to improve this critical situation. It is very interesting, when this article was first released it was titled, The Food Crises in America and What We Can Do to Fix it. A day or two later is was retitled, Getting Real About the High Cost of Cheap Food. Was the word Crises deemed to strong?