It’s the time of season here in North America when the air turns cold on our noses, and we gather with family and friends to celebrate. We also gather to share food–our favorite way to give thanks for what we have and for the people in our lives.
Right on for that! Food is central to our health and traditions; and also to our place on the planet. It’s the most intimate and consistent way in which we interact with nature. The food we eat, no matter what it is, has an impact on the environment and climate. We grow it using precious resources to produce and transport to our holiday table. That takes energy, which emits greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, because that energy comes from fossil fuels.
Making conscious decisions over food means something. It’s our biggest opportunity to get a grip on climate change. Food is the righting lever that’ll steer Mother Earth towards equilibrium, and choosing sustainable whole foods like legumes, colorful produce and whole grains, over meat, dairy and processed foods, is the most effective contribution that we can personally make to protect her.
Half of all methane emissions (a potent greenhouse gas) come from raising cattle, which is also the main reason for record deforestation, to support those cows,. It’s also the main source of water and soil degradation. Nitrous oxide, an even more powerful gas, comes mostly from livestock, their manure, and the fertilizer used to grow their feed. This we can avoid, simply through the daily choices that we make. Yet further, wasted food rotting in landfills produces significant amounts of methane. This we can avoid as well.
So share beautiful, sustainable food this holiday season and talk about why. It’s our low-hanging fruit. It’s what you and I can do to preserve our planet immediately without wasting time waiting for our leaders to figure it out. Every time we do, we lower our personal carbon footprint, and remind ourselves of the powerful role that we play through our personal decisions. We can’t right the wrongs of the world alone, but we can gather together and share food–healing food, for our family and our earth.
Written by Kathy Pollard, MS