Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Becoming an Eco-Conscious Eater

So, maybe you’ve heard that there is a food related weight epidemic in America. You might have even read that, according to the U.S. Government's Weight-control Information Network (WIN), over one-third of Americans are considered to be obese. But, there is more that affects Americans (and essentially the world) than just over consumption and poor food choices. It’s the fact that our eating affects our eco-system.
I recently learned that the food processing systems usually used to produce & preserve many favorite foods are responsible for up to one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and that an average 73% of all fruits and vegetables tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were positive for pesticides.
It is for more reasons than those mentioned above, that I suggest this: If you are going to be vigilant about what you eat (whether it’s to assist in weight loss or simply to contribute to your overall health), why not contribute to a healthier environment as well? After all, if we don’t take it upon ourselves to assume this responsibility, no one will. Believe me, every little bit helps and it’s not difficult at all to become an eco-conscious eater.
There are three main components to eco-conscious eating, but first we start with what you buy.
Organic vs. Natural
The term “Natural” as it refers to foods constitutes that the product only contains naturally occurring ingredients. Nothing “man made” such as artificial colors, flavors or preservatives have been added. While this is a good choice, I would opt for “Organic” foods whenever possible.
While organic food can often be more expensive, I have noticed a price drop as more local grocery stores have picked up on the public demand for more organically produced foods. Be sure to look for labels verifying that the foods are in fact organic. Generally, if a food has been certified by an organization such the USDA, you can trust that no conventional pesticides have come in contact with the food. Similarly, many pure organic juices will come without industrial fertilizer use or added sugars, making them both healthier and environmentally friendly.
Perfect Package
Now, while shopping for organic and hormone free foods is important, you might want to also be conscious of how your food purchases have been packaged. For example; if your organic meats or produce comes double-wrapped in plastic and sealed in Styrofoam, you may be losing ground on your “eco-conscious” plans when the packaging is thrown away. Instead, opt for recyclable vegetable bags and have meats wrapped in paper.
The Kitchen Green
Finally, take stock of how you actually cook what you've purchased. I’m not simply talking about adding extra salt or oil to your foods (although doing so can significantly lower their health value). What I mean here is “the way” in which you cook. Choosing to grill, bake or broil all of your meats on one day will significantly reduce your need for electricity and or gas. While some tend to dislike this idea, using your microwave oven instead of your stove-top to cook or re-heat your foods will also reduce your need for energy.
While this list is in no way complete nor are the many, many ideas on how one can become more “green” in their mode of eating & preparing foods, eco-conscious eating requires conscious thought about what goes into your body. Fortunately, eating for the environment and eating for whole-life wellness go hand in hand. With a few small changes in diet, many people can see benefits, especially in combination with exercise (according to WIN, inactivity remains the largest cause of obesity in America).
So, consider a farmer's market or the organic section of the vegetable aisle the next time you go grocery shopping to help both the planet and yourself. And if you need help putting a plan together to help bring your “whole life” plan together with exercise and stress management, be sure to visit my site, give me a call or shoot me an email. I’ll be glad to hear from you!
Until then –
Live Life Well,
John Aaron Villarreal

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