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The Impact of Food on Health and the Environment 

by Megan Meyer

May 4, 2020

One of the biggest impacts we can adopt to reduce our carbon footprint is to change our relationship with food; how it’s grown, the distance it travels to get to us, and the large amount that is thrown away by our society. Food typically travels hundreds and even thousands of miles to get to our grocery stores. Much of the fruit and vegetables we consume are grown on large factory farms that use pesticides, chemical fertilizers and genetically modified seed. Although we are one of the most prosperous countries on earth, we die sooner and experience higher rates of disease than other developed nations. We use the phrase “standard American diet” to describe the stereotypical diet of Americans. The diet that is best for the health of people and planetary sustainability is the same, and so simple that the journalist Michael Pollan can do it in seven words: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ The science is out that what we choose to eat affects our health as well as the health of the planet. What if we were to decide to add more vegetables and fruit to our diet from local sources? Some options would be to grow some vegetables in your own yard or join a community garden. Spring is a great time to start a vegetable garden and what better way to teach children about where their food comes from while learning to eat healthy. A great article for beginners can be found here. Another choice is to choose food from local farms that use a healthier approach to how they grow food. This can include using non-GMO seed, sustainable growing, and organic farming practices, These are ways of farming that enrich the soil nutrients rather than deplete them and use methods of crop rotation and companion planting to deter garden pests and disease instead of using chemical pesticides. Community Supported Agriculture is a way of supporting farmers who hold your values on how they farm. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Not all CSA’s are organic or use sustainable farming practices. Make sure you ask if you are looking for pesticide free food opportunities. We will explore and interview some of our own local farmers and their farming practices in coming issues around healthy food options and also share tips on growing your own food from some of our experienced Penfield residents. As we spend more time at home with our NY Pause to stay healthy, we might also reflect on how we can modify our food choices for the health of not only our families but also our planet. Chad Frischmann in his Ted Talk on Drawdown sheds more light on food choices and other ways to reduce our carbon footprint for the health of future generations.

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