ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Seven Ways to Change the World by Eating

Updated on October 6, 2010

You are what you you eat, and so, people are realizing more and more, is the planet. These tips will help you eat a diet that is healthier for both you and the planet.

1. Eat locally grown foods in season.

Sure you can get strawberries in the middle of December, but is it worth it? Foods bought in season are generally cheaper and tastier than those bought out of season.

Furthermore, eating locally produced foods in season is dramatically better for environment. Most produce in the USA is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before being sold. Most out of season foods are shipped even farther - often from Central or South America. One sample basket of imported organic produce could release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as an average four bedroom household does through cooking meals for eight months. The same basket of non-organic imported produce would release even more CO2 because non-organic food uses more energy in the production process: for example, the energy used to make and transport the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in its production. Non-organic milk, for example, needs five times more energy per cow than organic milk.

2. Buy organic foods and free range animal products.

Chemical pesticides and fertilizers used on crops are a major threat to human and environmental health, while the spread of antibiotic resistant disease strains is believed to be expedited by "factory farming" techniques in which animals are overcrowded and under-cared-for while being kept healthy by large doses of antibiotics in their daily feed. Organic farming relies on time honored farming techniques such as crop rotation and diversification to protect against pests and diseases, and free range animals stay healthy without constant antibiotic use. Buying organic is also more like to mean buying locally produced food from small, family farms.

Vote for a Free Range Future

3. Shop at a Farmer's Market

By shopping at a farmer's market, you are directly supporting a local family farm and are more likely to keep the money within your community. You also have more control over your food choices - if you know the farmer, you can find out what pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics were used produce the food, if any. (Small family farmers who sell at farmer's markets are more likely to raise organic crops and free-range livestock.)

4. Grow a garden.

Growing a garden is both a relaxing hobby and a way to teach yourself and others about the rhythms of nature, the amount of work needed to put food on the table, and where food comes from (some of the funniest and saddest jokes passed around the farming and gardening communities concern city kids who, for example, don't know that potatoes or carrots grow underground or who seriously believe that hamburgers grow on trees.) Homegrown crops, especially tomatoes, almost invariably taste better than those purchased at the grocery store as well.

Photo by hoyasmeg
Photo by hoyasmeg

5. Eat less meat.

Notice I didn't say "Become Vegetarian." I love shrimp, chicken, and lamb too much to turn vegetarian myself, but I rarely cook meat at home and when I do, use it more as a condiment than the focus point of a meal. I nearly always use organic, free range animal products because I know that the animals have been treated more humanely than the poor victims of factory farm agriculture.

Eating lots of meat is also bad for the environment. Producing 1 pound of feedlot beef requires 7 pounds of feed grain, which takes 7000 pounds of water to grow. One hamburger causes 55 square feet of rain forest destruction (for tropically raised beef) and 12 pounds of livestock feces and other pollutants. The amount of water required to raise one steer to market weight, including both the water he himself consumes and the water used to irrigate the grain he is fed in the feedlot, is enough to float a supertanker. Worldwide, livestock now produce 130 times as much waste as people do. Livestock waste disposal is often unregulated or unenforced and improper disposal of livestock waste has been linked to many human and environmental health disasters. In short, eating red meat uses 20 times the land, and causes seven times the common water pollution, five times the toxic water pollution and water use, and three times the greenhouse gas emissions as eating a vegetable, fruit, and grain based diet. Finally, a diet heavy in red meat has been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases.

For the dedicated carnivore, eating grass-fed meat, dairy, and eggs is one way to reduce the environmental impacts of meat eating. Grass-fed animal products are also healthier for you, with higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol than conventionally raised meat, eggs, and dairy.

6. Eat more "slow food."

The highly processed food sold by many fast food restaurants is probably not local and has been so processed that it has lost most of its nutritional value. Excessive fast food consumption in the US is considered a primary cause of the current epidemic of obesity. Eating fast food also robs your family of the the quality time required to prepare and consume a good meal.

Slow Food in a Fast World

Rare Jacob Lamb, by just chaos
Rare Jacob Lamb, by just chaos

7. Support biodiversity.

Around the world, the diversity of our food supplies is slipping. About 7,000 plant species have been cultivated and collected for food by humans since agriculture began about 12,000 years ago. Today, only about 15 plant species and 8 animal species supply 90% of our food. In many of these species only a handful of varieties are responsible for the vast majority of production. For example, in the 1920s more than 60 breeds of chickens were raised on farms across the United States. Today, one hybrid chicken, the Cornish Rock cross, supplies nearly all the supermarket chicken meat, while White Leghorns lay almost all the white eggs.

Industrialized farming is primarily responsible for this staggering loss of biodiversity. Industrial farms select for high production levels and ease of transport - often ignoring other factors such as hardiness, disease resistance, foraging efficiency (livestock only), and using chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics to make up the difference. Relying so heavily on a few varieties of a few species for so high a percentage of our food supply leaves us vulnerable to disasters such as the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840's. Millions of people starved and millions more fled the country because the Irish diet had become dependant on a single variety of potato . . . which just happened to be highly susceptible to black rot. Whenever possible, buy unusual varieties of vegetables and fruits and meat, milk, and eggs from heirloom animal species. (Often available at farmers markets.) If you have a garden or farm, raise heirloom varieties of plants and animals.

Guardians of the Seed


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)