Like me, you likely have much to be grateful for this holiday season. This time of year seems to accentuate both the grace and the shortcomings of human progress through time. Along with our good tidings, you and I also have much to be concerned about.
Worries could include concern over income, health, extreme weather, fires and drought, depending on where we live. Add to that the looming threat of destabilization from climate change, which leads to environmental instability, migration to higher ground or away from drought, as well as to food insecurity.
As we gather together with family and friends this season with gifts and food, keep in mind that many in our very own communities are not sure if they’ll be able to afford food or heat nest week. One in seven households with children are food insecure in the U.S.2018 For them this season may be yet another burden. These are the people who don’t have the luxury of debating such existential threats, (that’s for lucky people like us). They just need livelihoods, safe neighborhoods, reliable water and healthcare, and food that nourishes and protects.
Food is central to our health, our traditions, and also to our place on the planet. It’s the most intimate and consistent way in which we interact with nature. But the food we eat, no matter what it is, has an impact on the environment as well as the climate. We use up precious resources to produce and transport it 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 the food we eat and share 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 plant foods like legumes, colorful produce and whole grains is the most effective contribution that we can personally make to protect her. How can we ignore this opportunity when we are running out of time to avoid the worst of global warming? It doesn’t disappear when we stick our heads in the sand.
Half of all methane emissions (a potent greenhouse gas) come from raising cattle, which is also the main reason for record deforestation, and 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.
We are the Lucky Ones
Another sign of our luxury is the exorbitant amount of food wasted in this country – 40% of the food in the U.S. goes uneaten to rot in landfills, which produces significant amounts of methane. Must we?
For those of us lucky enough, let’s share beautiful, sustainable food this holiday season and talk about why. It’s our low-hanging fruit to control global warming. It’s what you and I can do to preserve our planet immediately and for us all. Every time we do, we lower our personal carbon footprint, and remind ourselves of the powerful role that we have. We can’t right the wrongs of the whole world alone, but we can use our comfort wisely, by sharing healing whole food – food that is gentle on resources, to share the luxury of survival on our Planet Earth with those with less, and with our future inhabitants.
Written by Kathy Pollard, MS