Sustainable Eating: Better for your Health, your Environment, and your World

I’ve mentioned the benefits of local eating in previous posts, such as by gardening and by frequenting the Farmer’s Market. Now I want to explain how seasonal eating relates to this idea, and why we should consider the sustainable alternative to the industrial food industry.

Eating sustainably includes eating locally because it’s a great way to support individual communities.  It connects communities to the source of their food, provides local farmers with financial support, and eliminates the need to truck in food from all over the country, or even from all over the world! This is where seasonal eating comes into play.

Before long-distance transportation was perfected, our ancestors had to eat seasonally because they didn’t have access to foods grown in other parts of the world; they could only eat what was in season and grew close to where they lived. Modern technology has changed this practice, and now we all expect to be able to eat whatever we want whenever we want it, regardless of whether or not that food is in season. If we want strawberries in winter, we’re indignant if we can’t find them on the grocery shelves. But eating foods when they’re not locally in season means transporting them from other areas around the world where they’re currently growing.

How often do you see a sticker on your avocado that says “Mexico,” or a bag of pre-washed greens that says “grown in California”? Unless you live in either of those places, you’re eating produce that had to endure miles and miles of delivery time, which guzzles thousands of gallons of gasoline. Unlike the industrial food industry, local food is sustainable because it doesn’t require the depletion of fossil fuels in the transportation process. The world’s supply of fossil fuel is exhausting, and industrial eating only speeds up the process. Not to mention the taste isn’t so great since industrially produced food is frozen while unripe, then artificially ripened after leaving the farm.

In places closer to home, the necessary use of synthetic fertilizers to force out-of-season produce to grow against its natural pattern is another downside to industrial eating. So while the industrial food industry means you technically canhave whatever foods you want, at any time of year, the question is should you? Three reasons to reduce the amount of  industrially produced foods are  they’re 1) not as healthy for your body,  2) not as tasty as  locally grown options, and 3) not healthy for the environment.

To read about how one local citizen realizes sustainable eating in her own life, go to yesterday’s Columbia Tribune article about Martha Dragich: the Conscientious Cook. To learn more about sustainable eating, visit Sustainable Table’s website “Smarter Living” page.