At Medicine Mama’s Apothecary, we care a great deal about how our choices affect our earth, and that includes other plants and animals as well as the ecosystems they affect every day. We support efforts to save populations of honeybees at Spikenard Farm in the hopes that this will preserve many delicate interactions between these animals and plants that they pollinate, allowing us to continue to use these fruits and vegetables as food sources for generations to come. There are also choices we all can make daily that will help to keep our home healthy, and it can be as simple as our diets.
You may already know that raising some livestock and plants can be more taxing than others on the land and air around them. Some vegetables need more water, some require soil that cannot be constantly farmed, and some animals eat food that is more costly and damaging to raise. In this case, cow farming is a major culprit. A recent report shows that raising cows is 28 times less efficient than the average of raising other livestock. They also contribute greatly to greenhouse gas emissions. While this set of evidence is indeed disturbing, this is not the only case in which inefficiency occurs. There are other foods that we farm which are less efficient and often less healthy than some alternative. We have a few suggestions if you are thinking of cutting out a hamburger or two per week in favor of a more environmentally-friendly option, as well as a few other food sources you may not have known are causing damage to farm on a massive basis.
Red Meat vs. Other Animal Proteins
As before mentioned, beef can pose major risks to the environment if we continue to raise cattle at the current rate. If you are thinking of cutting out red meat, you would include pork and lamb, too. Whether you just want to cut back on your beef intake, or even if you want to eat less red meat altogether, chicken, fish, and beans are an excellent alternative. They require less time, money, and food to raise and produce less greenhouse gasses. Also, a diet free or mostly free of red meat comes with a decreased risk of some cancers as well as heart disease with no added risk of protein deficiency.
Restaurant Food vs. Home Cooked Food
Everyone knows you probably consume far more calories on your favorite restaurant dish than when you cook something at home. But, did you know this could be causing harm to the environment? It turns out that food waste consumes a great deal of water and adds 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gasses to our atmosphere every year! Of course, this is not a huge problem if you always finish your plate, but many of us do not. The portion sizes have grown constantly over the past few decades, especially in the United States. That means you are either consuming a meal to huge and unhealthy in one sitting, or you are contributing to food waste. You can take a doggie bag home with that great pasta, but you may not eat it, and many people opt out of the to-go box for unfinished meals. We suggest eating out once or twice less per month, and when you do, choose a restaurant where you know you will eat all of your food, or commit to taking it home to finish later.
Farmed Fish vs. Wild-Caught Fish
When it comes to choosing fish to eat, you may have heard about the health benefits to eating wild-caught fish – they are higher in their natural nutrients and contain less toxins than their farmed counterparts. However, fish farms are causing environmental damage, as well. Fish farms are full of toxins, and those spread and damage the ecosystems around them. Antibiotics and chemicals aimed at killing pests such as sea lice can damage other animals and plants in the water and often persist for long periods of time, causing extended damage to other ecosystems nearby. Also, with such close quarters for most farmed fish, diseases run rampant and they do spread to wild fish populations on a regular basis as many of them escape. Finally, farming fish does not help save any money or wild populations as these fish require eating other fish to survive, so it still impacts the wild fishing industry. (Mind Body Green, November 2013). We suggest always buying wild-caught fish.
There are obviously many other areas in which eating one food as an alternative to the more popular source can be beneficial to your health and the environment. We also understand how difficult it is to make these changes and suggest just doing anything you can. If you can live without one less burger a week, give it a try and you will be helping in a great way. Remember, no one is perfect and eats only the most responsible choices 100% of the time, but if we all made small changes some of the time, it would add up to help reduce our waste and save our home.
Also, remember that every time you purchase your favorite Medicine Mama’s products, you are helping to support a company that is committed to helping the environment and your health!