Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Greener Diet: How the foods we eat impact our environment



The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has a great Eating Green Calculator you should try... it allows you to enter the servings of animal products you eat in a week to determine the impact your diet has on the environment: pounds of fertilizer and pesticides used yearly to grow animal feed, acres of grain and grass needed for animal feed and pounds of manure created by the animals you eat. The program then allows you to make changes to your diet and calculate how those changes can reduce your environmental burden.

The website also allows you to score your diet: you enter the servings of certain foods you eat in a week and the program calculates a Health Score, Environmental Score and Animal Welfare Score. Kinda cool.

The CSPI encourages everyone to take the
Pledge to eat less meat and dairy:

To protect my health and the environment, I will eat a more plant-based diet—more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts and fewer fatty meat and dairy products. When I do eat animal products, I will emphasize ones that are lower in fat and raised in humane ways that minimize harm to the environment.

What are the CSPI's 6 arguments for a greener diet?

1. Less chronic disease and overall health: The fat and cholesterol in meat, dairy, poultry and egg products cause about 63, 000 deaths from heart disease a year. Apart from heart disease and hypertension, consumption of meat and other animal products have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and diabetes.

2. Less foodborne illnesses: More than 1000 Americans die annually from foodborne illnesses linked to meat, poultry, dairy and egg products.

3. Better soil: Currently in the States, 100 million acres of land is used up to grow crops to feed livestock. In fact, 66% of US grain ends up as livestock feed. This practice depletes the topsoil of nutrients and erodes the soil (a typical acre of US cropland loses an average of 5 tons of soil a year!) , as does overgrazing of grasses by livestock. 22 billion pounds of fertilizer and immense amounts of pesticides are used to grow the animal feed is used, disrupting the ecosystem, poisoning wildlife and polluting waterways.

4. More and cleaner water: 80% of all freshwater in the States is used for agriculture, Half of available irrigation water (14 trillion gallons annually) is used to grow food for US livestock (1 trillion alone is used directly by livestock). Fertilizer, pesticides, manure, antibiotics and eroded soil pollute water.

5. Cleaner air: Methane gas produced by cattle and livestock in 2000 had the same impact on global warming as 33 million cars! Livestock are the largest source of ammonia releases on Earth, contributing to smog, acid rain as well as respiratory and other health problems.

6. Less animal suffering: 140 million cattle, pigs and sheep, 9 billion chicken and turkeys and millions of fish, shellfish and other sea creatures are slaughtered a year in the United States. Food animals are not protected by federal animal welfare laws making common procedures such as chopping animals' beaks, horns, tails, or testes legal.

Click Here to download their entire "6 Arguments for a Greener Diet" book.

Happy Earth Day!

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