Girl Planting seeds

What's in our Food/Can we Sustain?

shutterstock_100258691A few weeks ago, The New York Times published an article instructing readers how to eat more sustainably to positively affect the planet. It largely cited a recent report from the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Health, which was compiled by 37 experts from around the world with the goal of helping people understand how to eat not only a healthy diet, but one that won’t destroy the environment and will improve the health of people in rich and poor nations alike.

The article omits some important facts… and actually blames cows for climate change!  They quote the Lancet report that says to limit our intake of beef because “intensive meat production is on an instoppable trajectory comprising the single greatest contribution to climate change.”  But where does this intensive meat production come from? Not your family farmer, private farmer, or grass-fed, pasture-raising farmer.  It’s the Animal Factory Farms: beef, pork, fish, chicken factory farms that are harmful to us and our environment. It’s the Big AG vegetable and fruit and grain farms that use Glyphosate, GMO’s,toxic cancer causing pesticides, fungicides and insecticides on their crops that we then eat.  I didn’t see this mentioned in the Times article. You can educate yourself on the imminent risk to human health that these toxins pose by reading “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,” by Steven M. Druker.
There's a huge difference between grass-fed beef from the farm to your table and cows that are raised on factory farms and given genetically modified feed to eat in abundance.  There's a difference between fresh caught, antibiotic-free wild fish and farmed fish full of toxic pollutants.  There’s a difference between cage-free, free-range, arsenic-free chickens and chickens squeezed into tight quarters and stuffed full of antibiotics and low-quality feed; between non-CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) pigs and those raised in CAFO.  There is a difference between organic, non-GMO grains, fruits, and vegetables and those sprayed with glyphosate and other toxic pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. These facts and results should be shown to the public as the latter here is the root of our food problem, our health problem and environmental problem.

"Cows ARE NOT the single greatest contribution to climate change, WE ARE."

As I’ve written in the past, these factory farms are breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli and salmonella. The animals there are pumped full of antibiotics to make sure they don’t get sick, a reckless practice that has put countless people at risk from consuming meat and dairy products laden with drug-resistant bacteria. Factory farms pollute the air, water, and land in their immediate vicinity and beyond with chemicals, feces, and other toxic substances. A great resource to learn more about factory farms is David Kirby’s book “Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment.”
There’s also glyphosate and genetically modified feed used in factory farming. This is not only harmful to animals, but to the humans eating them. And it’s equally disastrous to our water supplies, as lakes and rivers are routinely contaminated from these toxic, inhumane farming practices.
Factory farms catch a lot of slack for treating animals so terribly, but their impact on the environment and on humans is just as shameful. "Instructing people to simply 'eat less meat and dairy' as a means of eating more sustainably misses the point almost entirely." The real goal should be to avoid eating meat and dairy produced at factory farms, and to encourage people to become more intimately familiar with where their food comes from and how it is procured, and to make environmentally responsible choices based on this information.

"Instructing people to simply 'eat less meat and dairy' as a means of eating more sustainably misses the point almost entirely."

The same thinking applies to fruits and vegetables (and beans, and nuts, and pretty much any food given to us naturally from the earth).  Not all farms are created equal, and certainly not all farms are local. Urging people to eat a more plant-based diet is somewhat of an empty directive without clarifying that such plants should be organic and therefore pesticide-free, GMO free, local and therefore less impactful on the environment (supporting local farms reduces your carbon footprint because the farther produce has to travel to get to you, the more pollution this travel generates).
If we’re going to encourage people to eat more sustainably to help protect our children and the environment, we must acknowledge that part of what has destroyed the environment is the farming industry’s decades-long love affair with chemicals, GMO's, glyphosate, antibiotics, and other toxins. This relationship has taken a toll on the air we breathe, the water we drink, and has profoundly altered human DNA. Such changes have caused a rise in chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, autism, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, and so many more conditions.
The experience of eating is and should be intensely personal.
Do the work of finding out where your food comes from and if it comes from a factory farm or CAFO or a farm that uses pesticides to grow its plants, or treats it's crops with glyphosate and GMO's – find a different farm!
Taking some time to gather this information will not only improve your own health and that of your entire family, but stands to reverberate in the environment for generations to come.


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