The 5th of June is World Environment Day, and this year’s theme is biodiversity – “a concern that is both urgent and existential,” according to the United Nations. This is a day to talk openly about environmental protection issues and raise awareness on various global challenges like the climate crisis, pollution, sustainable consumption, and animal cruelty.
At Abundance, we’re always looking to talk about sustainable consumption and reflect on how our food system negatively impacts the environment. Here are some ways to be more mindful of our planet when consuming food, as outlined by American environmental activist Rob Greenfield.
Eat less meat
We are not here to tell you what to eat or not to eat. However, from what we have experienced and from what people have shared with us, the health benefits of a plant-based diet are immediate and very obvious. There is also widely accepted evidence from scholarly articles about the environmental impact of livestock farming, and its footprint is vast. Water and land consumption, animal methane and fossil fuel usage are just some of the environmental effects associated with meat production. Being a flexitarian is what’s working for us currently. Remember to consult your doctor for any drastic changes in diet.
Avoid or reduce processed foods
I’m sure you’ve seen the quote: “If your grandmother or ancestors don’t recognise it, don’t bother eating it.” Eat whole foods most of the time. Eat foods that are still in the same shape as when they came from the earth – free of all the food nasties and full of nutrition. It is advised to shop on the perimeter of a supermarket and ignore the aisles – you are not missing much where food is concerned.
We cannot emphasise this point enough, and if you are familiar with our articles this is on repeat. Eating food that is grown in your local environment has been proven to contain enough nutrients, vitamins and minerals to help keep your immune system healthy and strong. For example, in South Africa, winter months are citrus season which means rich vitamin C which is good for colds and flu. Your food is not transported from far away which also means fewer gas emissions. Buying local helps improve your local economy – something we need so much in our country!
Buy organic or natural food when possible
While PGS South Africa is great, you can also just talk to your local growers and ask them if the food is grown organically. This will keep chemicals out of your body, the farmer’s body, and all the creatures’ bodies. While most farming methods have been found to have a variety of effects on the environment, organic farming is far better for you and for the earth than the conventional methods. Read more about organic practices here.
Buy unpackaged foods
What is the point of plastic in the majority of fresh produce foods? Farmers markets where most “reputable” supermarkets stock their produce from is unpackaged, like at City Deep market in Johannesburg. Packaging, in most cases, ends up in landfills or the oceans and is just unnecessary pressure on our environment. Most major cities in South Africa now have package free/zero waste supermarkets, so find one near you and frequent them. Also, if you’re buying whole, unpackaged foods in the bulk section then make sure to bring your own jars or bags to put them in. Yes, it may seem weird at first but if more customers practice this it will soon become the norm.
Spread the word
There are many ways to rewild your diet, from not buying plastic water bottles to using your own cup for coffee takeaways (guilty!) to eating raw foods, but the most important in my view is to spread the information. Every small step taken by each person helps the movement grow and that creates a huge impact on the environment. Daily decisions we make as humans often put the earth’s biodiversity at risk, but with a conscious effort from each of us, we can preserve and celebrate biodiversity around us.