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How to Eat to Help the Earth

Being healthy is about taking care of your body, focusing on both fitness and food. Today being Earth Day, I wanted to share these ideas on how to eat healthy and help the planet by nutritionist Monica Reinagel at Nutrition Data.

Here are the highlights:

  • Become a "locavore." On average, the food we eat travels 1,500 miles from its source to our plates, guzzling fuel and spewing CO2 emissions all the way. With more and more organic food being imported from South America (and further!) to meet growing demand, buying organic is not necessarily environmentally friendly. Consistently choosing foods from growers close to where you live can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your diet. To find farms and growers near you, visit
  • Eat seasonally. When you eat foods that are not in season where you live, they have either been stored from another season or transported from another climate. Both consume energy and degrade the nutritional quality of the food. For the freshest, most flavorful, most economical, and most eco-conscious foods, plan your menus around what is being harvested in your area.To find out what's in season where you live, see this guide from
  • There are three other ideas, so


  • Eat fewer packaged and preprocessed foods. Even when they are organic or “all natural,” processed foods consume energy and water, add cost, and create waste at every step of production, packaging, and distribution. To lower your food bill, improve the nutritional quality of your meals, and reduce the negative impact of your diet on the planet, buy whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
  • Support small farms. Large industrial farms (whether organic or conventional) generally end up cultivating just one or two crops because it is more efficient for them. But a monoculture is tough on the environment, stripping the land of certain nutrients and overloading it with particular waste products. Small farms are more likely to grow a diverse mix of crops and raise a variety of animals, which creates a healthier, more sustainable ecosystem.
  • Choose organic. Organic foods preserve healthier soil, air, and groundwater by eliminating or strictly limiting the use of pesticides, drugs, hormones, and artificial fertilizers. Organic practices are healthier for farmers, neighbors of farmers, consumers, and the planet than industrial farming practices. But buying organic is not enough to maintain a healthy environment: Choosing foods that are local, seasonal, unprocessed, and sustainably grown is just as important."

I know that putting all these ideas into practice sounds a bit daunting, but so does running a marathon and I still keep running. It is all about baby steps. Adopt the practices you can. I will never be able to give up coffee and it certainly isn't grown anywhere close to my home. However, I wait to buy asparagus and strawberries until they are in season in my area and bear stickers declaring "California Grown" so I know they weren't shipped all the way from South America.

Do you follow any of these practices? Have any tips of your own to share? Tell me in the comments section below.


Join The Conversation
emalove emalove 9 years
We buy as much organic food as we can.
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i also went vegan for environmental reasons!
seyory seyory 9 years
Like kgtg1 said, go vegetarian! I stopped eating meat purely for environmental reasons. There's a whole wealth of delicious food I wasn't eating before, and now I love it. Think about it if you really care about the environment.
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
easy to shop mostly "local" here. i wonder what people's definition of "local" is though? i am from Vancouver, and the book "100 mile diet" was written by two people from here - and it is harder than one thinks to eat totally "local". i do buy a lot of BC produce and other things, but i need wheat from the next province and stuff...the tofu is processed here but soy beans aren't from here...whata dilemma.
kgtg1 kgtg1 9 years
Eliminate the middle man (using resources to grow plants to feed to animals, using resources to keep the animals alive, then eating animals) - go veg!
lawyerjenn lawyerjenn 9 years
I love that local harvest website! Thank you so much. I just found a really awesome pick-it-yourself farm only about 30 minutes from my house. That should be fun regardless of whether it's less expensive, etc.
kimberley kimberley 9 years
We try to be locavores. We're fortunate to have good farmers market and health food stores in the area. I love shopping at our farmers market -- not only is it local, organic and inexpensive, it supports small farms. I several months ago, I read an informative, fascinating book -- part memoir and part investigative journalism -- about one family's decision and experience to go local. It prompted me to go local. The title is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It is written by NYT bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver and her family. Check out for links and information about going local and for more information about the book. I've found that local foods can often be healthier and and tastier -- my daughter's new favorite peanut butter is locally made and doesn't contain any corn syrup, added oils, or preservatives. Her favorite jam is also local, but when the berry season for the u-pick farms starts, we're going to go berrying and make our own jam. :)
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
I buy very little processed food.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I can't wait to check out the farmers market which is only a summer thing around here.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I am lucky. It is fairly easy enough to be a locavore where I live :shopping:
AMP AMP 9 years
asparagus is in season and im eating so much of that! i want to start shopping the local farmers markets, but are they cheaper? i try to buy organic when i can afford to. and i hardly ever buy processed products, its more fresh produce and fish for my kitchen.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I wish I could eat more locally, but unless I'm going to survive on Dates it's a not go. I checked the website and that was all they had haha But have been trying to eat more natural and unprocessed foods. It's hard, a lot of good foods are processed ha but I'm trying. and I LOVE buying seasonal fruit, I love changing things up every couple months and trying new things. I LOVE fruit. Mmmmm
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