It’s not often that patriotism and environmental consciousness are directly related–at least, not in the public eye. With that said, loving your country and taking care of its environment don’t have to be mutually exclusive when it comes to how you live or eat. Here are some ways that going green is good for the red, white and blue:
1.) Supporting local businesses. Did you know almost half of the country’s vegetable consumption is made up of just iceberg lettuce, potatoes, and canned tomatoes? By sourcing your food locally, you can become familiar with what’s being grown near you and expose yourself to fruits and veggies you simply can’t find in most chain grocery stores. Small businesses – whether they’re local vendors or farmers – benefit immediately from your green eating, and so do you. Local farmers generally sell fresher food that creates less environmental waste and uses less pesticide.
What you can do: Learn what’s in season and head to your local farmer’s market. You can also eat at restaurants that get their produce and meats from local farms.
2.) Keeping the American environment clean. By cutting down on the amount of meat that you eat, you can help keep the country’s air clean. Beef is the most environmentally costly food Americans consume, with methane emissions produced by cattle being the primary culprit. Really, if people weren’t giggling to themselves about the idea of cow farts, would it be a bigger deal to us that methane is 72 times more harmful to the environment than CO2?
What you can do: Cutting back on meat just once a week can add up to a huge difference – and you might even find that vegetarian recipes are tasty and easy to make. This will significantly decrease the size of your carbon footprint and help keep the air cleaner. This doesn’t mean every tailgate needs to involve substituting burgers for foods you can’t pronounce – it just means eating a bit less from time to time. Meat Free Monday also has ideas and information for delicious, eco-friendly alternatives.
3.) Keeping the land biologically diverse. Produce that’s considered inorganic relies greatly on pesticides, which can contaminate nearby bodies of water, decimate the biodiversity of an area and also result in the thinning of bird eggshells. This has affected the populations of many animals, from ecologically significant invertebrates to America’s own national symbol, the bald eagle.
What you can do: Go local. Go organic. Go America.
4.) Lessening America’s dependence on oil. Foods that travel more, obviously, require more gas. The number 1,500 has become ubiquitous to highlight how many miles food travels to the average American dinner table. Obviously, that total varies depending on where you live and what you eat; yet, it goes without saying that your carbon footprint, and the country’s well-established dependence on oil, could be lessened by eating fresher food that’s sourced locally.
What you can do: Eating locally grown produce, buying less meat, and even having a garden of your own are all in America’s best interests when it comes to reducing the country’s dependence on imported oil.
5.) Promoting freedom (for animals). There’s something unsavory about the practice of caged chickens and densely kept livestock – if you’ve seen any videos of these farming practices, you probably agree. Not surprisingly, it’s taken the very American method of people speaking out against this to finally shed light on these unethical practices. According the National Chicken Council, less than 1% of chickens on the market are considered “free-range.” The link also explains the key distinctions between other terms like “farm-raised,” “natural” and “organic.”
What you can do: Vote with your pocketbook by eating only free-range chicken and eggs. When you do eat meat, choose the kind that’s antibiotic-free and raised on pasture.
6.) Improving public health (and your own). Ultimately, all these good decisions will lead to better health for the Americans practicing them: eating less red meat, genetically modified food and weird chemicals will assuredly lead to a better standard of living. And it doesn’t just come directly from the food you eat – it’s also the air you breathe and the water you drink. And as we all know, a healthier America is a stronger America. (Cue the marching band!)
You can have a positive impact on your country – and your body – by going local and going green. If you’re looking for a way to keep all of your locally-sourced veggies fresh, put a BerryBreeze in your fridge – you’ll significantly cut down on the amount of food you throw away.