What Should Foodies Do?
It seems like anyone with a smartphone and an active Yelp account is considered a foodie nowadays. But being a true foodie means more than snapping a sepia-filtered photo of the latest cronut: it means being a conscious eater. As foodies, there’s a responsibility to take an interest in food beyond the mini-feed, considering not just what’s trendy or new, but also how each bite plays into the whole food system.
A few benchmarks serve as friendly reminders to a foodie’s impact, and here’s just a few no-brainers to keep in mind as you climb to ultimate foodie status:
How far would you go for the perfect meal? According to World Watch Institute, conventional food travels an average of 1,500 miles from its origin farm to its end consumer, compared to just 44.6 miles that locally sourced food typically travels. To that end, the conventional food system uses up to 17 times more fuel and produces up to 17 times greater carbon emissions than food that’s locally sourced. While “local” doesn’t automatically mean sustainable, finding your nearest farmer’s market or joining a local CSA is a pretty good place to start for folks looking to step up their foodie game.
The hamburger craze is no passing fad amongst foodies: it’s downright historic. While you can find a new buzzy burger every day of the week if you wish, eating just one less patty each week is like taking your car off the road for 320 miles (18% of all human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture). And, if you’re more concerned with eating your greens than with going green, take a healthy bite out of this: if you indulge in Meatless Monday for just one year, you might reduce your risk of diabetes by 31% and your risk of heart disease by 19%.
Around one third of all household waste is food packaging. When packaging is contaminated with food, it’s harder to recycle (ignoring that Americans send 50% of what could be recycled straight to landfills anyway). The 100 billion plastic bags used by Americans each year can take anywhere from 400 to a 1000 years to decompose in landfills where they release toxins like DDT, PCB, and PAH into our air and oceans. To make sure your food doesn’t contribute to the waste epidemic, try purchasing snacks in bulk and packing them in reusable containers. Also consider using a recyclable water bottle, and buying basic ingredients to cook food yourself (like these easily delicious granola bars).