“For 200 years we’ve been conquering Nature. Now we’re beating it to death”. ~Tom McMillan
This coming Wednesday, June 5, we celebrate “World Environment Day”.
What does this mean to us? We “celebrate” many special days during the year: ‘Mother’s Day”, “Father’s Day”, “Women’s Day”, “Refugee’s Day” and so on…but how many of us really stop to think what these things really mean? Do they mean something else beyond another excuse to post a “like” in Facebook, consume more by buying things nobody wants for our parents and wearing a T-shirt that says we “care” for whatever the cause of the day is?
In this busy world we have created, in this increasing noise where things that used to be important are phased out as soon as new “needs” appear on the horizon, what does “World Environment Day” really mean?
The UNEP (United Nations Environment programme) chose “Eat.Think.Save” as theme for this year’s celebration.
In an age where nobody seems to be paying attention to what is happening to our planet, I hope this message is received for at least a few of those who follow this humble blog.
What is what we should “eat”, “think” and “save”?
Eat: what you eat has an impact on the planet and on other people’s lives: not just your health. When you eat foods that have been produced thousands of miles away, using massive amounts of pesticides, artificial fertilizers and irrigation, you are basically eating oil. Yes, oil. Oil is used to manufacture, apply and transport those things, and finally, oil is used to bring that food to your table. Your carbon footprint grows bigger with each mile you add to where your food comes from and how it is produced.
The way most food is produced today damages the environment in other ways: rivers and lakes are being depleted and soil eroded due to the inefficient and unsustainable way monoculture requires to be produced.
The environment is also hurt when you eat meat: to produce meat for single hamburger, it is estimated that you would need 4,000-18,000 gallons of water! In a world where 1.6 billion people experience water scarcity, this is a crime…but not just that! Livestock produces more emissions due to many factors: forest have to be cut so cows, pigs, goats, etc. can graze, or because space is needed to grow the grain to feed them (again, in a world where almost one billion people are chronically undernourished, this is yet another crime).
We can continue with many other things: most farm workers are underpaid and work long hours, food is monopolized by big companies that decide what you eat and how: they focus on making food cheap and appealing, what makes most processed food cheap and appealing, but completely lack of nutrients and full of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives (that’s why so many people are becoming obese, developing allergies and strange illnesses), and so on…
It is also normal to have food in packages: plastic bags and foam plates, plastic bottles and cardboard boxes. All this packaging will be thrown away by consumers and most of it is not biodegradable: it will pollute the soil, rivers, lakes and oceans as it is already doing in many places. It will end up inside the stomachs of fishes and birds, killing their babies…or your children may eat these particles when they eat the fish that ate them…
Finally, many of us buy too much food. We tend to buy because there is an offer or because it looks good. We then may forget what we have in our shelves and will throw leftovers when cleaning the fridge.
So…what we can do? How can we use the UNEP message this World Environmental Day to make a difference for our and our children’s future?
Eat less meat or consider becoming vegetarian.
Eat healthy and fresh.
Grow some of your own vegetables and herbs.
If you have the space: raise chicken for eggs.
If you don’t have the space: join a CSA or a community garden: http://www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca/resources/knowledge-pantry/csa/
Think: we can think before we buy food and ask ourselves these questions:
Where does this food come from? How far away was it produced?
What is inside? Is this real food? What was involved in its production? Who was involved? How do you know is healthy for you and your family?
And also ask questions about its packaging: what it is made of? Where will it go when you throw it away?
Plan ahead so you buy only what you will consume.
Learn to preserve food (canning, drying, etc.) so you can buy in bulk when it is cheap and have it for “later” on the year.
Learn to cook with leftovers.
Use kitchen scraps to feed your chicken (if you have), or to compost so you’ll have great soil and natural fertilizer for your veggies.
Share the food you don’t need: with friend and neighbours or donate non-perishable food to the local food bank: http://www.surreyfoodbank.org/
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. ~Native American Proverb