Meat Impacts on the Environment

Eating meat has a large footprint on the earth. Here are some facts;

  • Reducing meat production by 10% in the US would free enough grain to feed 60 million people. (Harvard Nutritionist, Jean Mayer)
  • According to the USDA, growing crops for animal feed requires 80% of U.S. agricultural land and nearly half of the water supply. (USDA)
  • More than 80 pounds of CO2 are released for every 2.2 lbs of meat consumed.
  • Factory farms are responsible for 18% of green house gases worldwide. They are also the cause of 64% of ammonia emissions, the primary cause of acid rain.(Natural Home Magazine)

Although eating less meat overall will reduce CO2 emissions and help the environment, it is also important to know which meat or protein is better than others. E Magazine published an article, The Best Meat to Eat, which identifies chicken and turkey as two of the meats lower in GHG emissions. Lamb, beef and pork were rated higher in their environmental footprint.

If you would like to learn more about vegetarian and meat free diets, here are some good resources;

Vegetarian Times: They produce a monthly publication and a great source of vegetarian recipes.

Food Revolution: John Robbins, the heir to the Baskin Robbins empire is also a vegetarian and author of Diet for A New America.

Becoming a Vegetarian: A blog for those individuals and families who want to start transitioning off of meat-based diets.

Five Tips to Reduce Food Waste in Your Home

In a recent article on food waste by e-magazine, they cited that roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted. This was based on the report, FAO report Global Food Losses and Food Waste, which was released May 2011. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that Americans are responsible for most of this food waste—more than 34 million tons of food was tossed in the U.S. in 2009, which amounted to more than 14% of the nation’s total municipal solid waste stream. And only 3% of food scraps are recycled into compost—the remaining 97% is sent to landfills where it rarely decomposes and instead rots and produces harmful methane gas which contributes to global warming.

Here are top 5 tips you can do to reduce food waste in your home;

  1. Create a Shopping List and Menu Plan: Plan out the week of meals and figure out how much you need to purchase for your family. You will reduce food waste by only buying what you need.
  2. Make Smoothies: instead of throwing away wilted veggies or fruit, convert them into a smoothie. Go to Smoothie Recipes for some ideas.
  3. Buy Only What You Need: consider purchasing in bulk, when possible, and only buy the quantities of food that you need. You can also freeze un-used fruit and vegetables and use them at a later time.
  4. Compost: The best way not to feel guilty about throwing away unused food, is to compost it. Consider getting a home-based composter for your yard. Go to composters.com which has a broad range of composters plus information on how to get started.
  5. Portion Control: Start with smaller portion helpings on plates and let each family member take more if they want. This is the quickest way to reduce food waste.

DIVE! is an excellent movie on food waste. Learn more about it on our past blog post DIVE!.

Unpackaged: A grocery store with no packaged goods!

Imagine a grocery store with no packaged goods– no jars, no cans, no plastic packaging—just food. Well a new store opened in London that is just that, a store with no packaged goods called Unpackaged. Customers bring in their own reusable containers and have them weighed before shopping. Then, consumers fill up their containers with the products they need in only the amounts they desire.  No more packaging to throw away, less food waste and no need to worry about the plastic BPA issue in your food.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, packaging waste contributes to about a 1/3 of our waste in our U.S. landfills. They also show that over 10.4 million tons of plastic packaging is thrown away annually by Americans. With 95% of the ecological damage of packaging is from the energy used and the toxins created in the package manufacturing and delivery process. If packaging waste could be reduced, it would be a considerable impact on our waste stream, energy use and toxins in our environment.

Unpackaged was voted as the #48 best shop in London, to take a virtual tour visit the CNN video, Shoppers Weight Up Green Premiums.

We hope it might catch on here in the States!

What’s In Your Veggie Burger

As summer is now in full force with outdoor barbeques be mindful what you put on that grill! Veggie Burgers use a soy extraction uses a chemical called Hexane which is a known neurotoxin. An interesting article called, What’s in Your Veggie Burger, came out recently in E magazine about the chemical Hexane in Veggie Burgers. Also, Mother Jones put out an article, Which Veggie Burgers contain Neurotoxin, last year.

Here is a brief article on why Hexane is not very good for you published by Cancer to Wellness organization. And here is Cornucopia’s full report, Behind the Bean, that talks about the good and bad of the soybean industry.

Here is the list of non-Hexane Veggie Burgers verified by the Cornucopia Institute:

  • Boca Burgers “Made with organic soy”
  • Helen’s Kitchen
  • Morningstar “Made with organic”
  • Superburgers by Turtle Island

DIVE! the Movie: Dumpster Diving for Good Food

Dive! is a documentary by filmmaker Jeremy Seifert about dumpster diving for perfectly good food.

The 45-minute documentary follows Seifert and his friends as they explore the alleys and backstreets Los Angeles

grocery stores in search of good food tossed away by Trader Joes, Safeway, Whole Foods, Vons and others. These stores throw away good food usually the day before an expiration date. Often these expiration dates are suggestions and does not necessarily mean that the food is bad. In fact, as you see in this movie whole dumpsters are being filled with good, fresh and expensive food.

The Department of Agriculture estimated in 1996 that recovering just 5 percent of the food that is wasted could feed four million people a day; recovering 25 percent would feed 20 million people. Today we recover less than 2.5 percent. While individual Americans throw away a large percentage of that after buying the food and bringing it home to their refrigerator, a frightening amount ends up being tossed by grocery stores before it can be purchased.

And why isn’t it being given to homeless shelters or food banks? Well some of it is but it all depends on the store’s procedures and if they have someone who comes and picks it up. Ideally, it would be best if these companies would offer this service to take this food to the shelters or food banks directly.
Another good book on the subject of food waste  is American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half  Of Its Food and What you Can do About it, by Jonathon Bloom.