More people are now talking about the need to reduce our carbon footprint. But the discussion is largely focused on improving public transport, avoiding plastic bags (a commendable move which the Penang government is now implementing) or recycling and re-using.
But that is not enough. A study of the population in Cardiff, Wales has shown that the biggest impact on the environment comes from the choices we make in the following areas (in this order):
- the food and products we buy
- the energy we use
- our mode of travel
- the infrastructure which surrounds us
- the waste we produce
Of course, underlying all this is our oil-guzzling profit-driven corporate economy, which does not factor in environmental losses.
The Natural News website insists that “you are not green unless your food is green”. It says our philosophy on food should be: “Eat LOCAL food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
This is why it is absolutely vital for each state in Malaysia to grow as much of its food requirements locally, preferably organically. We don’t have to wait for the government to see the light. We can do what we can locally by exerting pressure through the choices we make.
Natural News suggests five ways we can go about this:
1. Buy local food and drink
A big part of the carbon footprint of foods and beverages is found in the fossil fuels used to transport them to your local grocery store. Buying food that’s grown locally largely avoids that footprint, regardless of the type of food. Local dairy and meat products, for example, are “greener” than dairy and meat imported from somewhere else. But using plants as your food source (see #3, below) is the greenest of all.
2. Avoid wasteful packaging
A tremendous amount of energy goes into the creation of food and beverage packaging. Sadly, most of that energy is wasted because the food packaging is quickly discarded by consumers.
To avoid this waste, buy in bulk or purchase minimally-packaged products. Breakfast cereals are a classic case of extremely wasteful packaging with a high carbon footprint….
3. Buy plants, not meats and animal products
This is the most important food purchasing strategy of all: Buy plants instead of animal products. This will drastically reduce your carbon footprint. Meats and animal products are extremely resource intensive, requiring enormous amounts of water, food and fossil fuels to produce. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that the widespread consumption of meat is not ecologically sustainable….
4. Buy minimally-processed foods
Highly-processed foods require a lot of energy and resources to produce. They’re also extremely wasteful in terms of nutrients. White processed sugar, for example, is missing as much as 98% of the original nutrients found in unprocessed cane juice. Taking those nutrients out required a tremendous amount of wasted energy, and that’s why white sugar has a much larger carbon footprint than evaporated cane juice.
The same is true of breads, cereals, canned soups and other processed foods. Anything that isn’t fresh requires energy for processing and cooking. Anything that’s pasteurized, for example, has a much larger carbon footprint than the same foods RAW. That’s because pasteurization requires the foods or beverages to be heated, burning up fossil fuel energy.
RAW living plants, in this way, are the most ecologically-sensitive foods you can buy, grow or consume. (They’re also the healthiest, but that’s a different article…)
5. Grow your own
Finally, the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of your food consumption is to grow your own food. That makes your food so local that it’s in your own back yard!
And you don’t have to grow ALL your own food to make a difference: You can start with basic sprouting right in your own kitchen…. Pursuing a backyard garden goes even further, and if you live in the right climate, you can grow a portion of your food just a few steps away from your door….
The article on the Natural News website concludes by saying that the biggest act of defiance you can undertake is to grow your own food. Also, if you slowly eliminate the processed food and drinks you buy from the hypermarkets, your grocery bills would be slashed – and that can’t be a bad thing, no? I mean, instead of buying imported cookies and cordial drinks, go for papayas, mangoes and pineapples from your local fruit vendor.