We are what we eat; this impacts our health, but also the environment and the people that make it possible for the food to reach our plate. Now more than ever we’re removed from the process of food production. It is possible, however, to educate yourself and make smarter eating decisions. If you’re interested, please read on … and remember, even small decisions can make a world of difference.
In a perfect world everyone could afford and would have access to a totally organic diet. I know this isn’t true. But there are ways to reduce your pesticide exposure without converting to an all organic diet. Not all vegetables are created equal. Conventional produce varies by vegetable/fruit in the amount of pesticides used in production. The Environmental Working Group produces a great shopper’s guide to pesticides. I keep one on my fridge and it reminds me of the items I definitely want to buy organic. You can download and print a guide or even get an iPhone App. Due to the cost of eating all organic, I tend to prioritize local pastured organic dairy, poultry, and eggs due to the unhealthy and unethical living conditions for big industry cows and poultry. Supporting your local farmers’ market and cooperatives is a good start!
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy the beauty of the planet’s beaches and oceans. Unfortunately, the current state of the planet’s oceans is pretty depressing. As a seafood lover (and cognizant of the amazing health benefits) I want to make sure I’m making the most ethical choices possible when eating seafood. The Marine Stewardship Council is a great place to start if you’d like to learn more about sustainable seafood. I try to buy only MSC certified seafood. My top choice is mail order seafood from Vital Choice. Whole Foods Market also features several MSC certified choices. You can also download a seafood guide from Monterey Bay Aquarium for shopping tips regarding what seafood to absolutely avoid. For example, I know Chilean Sea Bass tastes delightful but you’ll never see it on my blog. It’s extremely over-fished, illegally fished, and contains high levels of mercury. Speaking of which, here is a good mercury calculator if you’re worried about mercury levels in your diet.
Words of Caution
Over the years I’ve learned that just because a product says it’s “natural” or “sustainable” or “green,” doesn’t always mean much. Read the ingredients, and where applicable look to where the product came from, and whether it is farmed or wild. What has shocked me most is the use of these words on seafood products – horrible seafood choices can have “green” labels – but if you know what and where to buy from you’ll be able to get past the hype. For example, shrimp marketed as a “green” choice because it’s not feed antibiotics is not necessarily sustainable. All seafood should have a label indicating whether it is farmed or wild and where it originated from. Most farmed shrimp comes from Asian shrimp farms & I’ve seen first-hand the devastation it does to the environment and to the people that may have previously farmed the land or sustainably fished the waters. There are sustainable options.
*If you know a link to add please contact me*
Michael Pollan’s site has great links to explore