Diet and health

Plant-based foods use less land, water and fuel, and create less pollution than meat and dairy products.   A 2018 study of the impacts of 40 foods from 40,000 farms across 119 countries found that eating less or no animal-based food is critical for reducing our impact on the environment, our health and animal welfare. The World Health Organization says a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and grains is the best path to health and longevity. The bigger the proportion of a person’s diet they comprise, the greater the benefit.  These are some of the products to look for, cut down on , or eliminate:

– Try not to buy food made with palm oil, which often grown in monoculture that degrades soil and leads to deforestation. A 2017 Amnesty International report found the industry used banned pesticides, exploited farmworkers and used forced and child labour. The chocolate and coffee industries have similar issues.

– Buy organic, not because it is just better for your own body, but because it reduces farmworkers’ exposure to many fertilisers and pesticides.

– Avoid meat produced with hormones, steroids and antibiotics.    Beef is a prime example.

– Don’t buy eggs from concentrated animal feeding operations – “cage-free” isn’t as lovely as you think,  that is, the issue of caged chickens is only part of the problem.

– Pick fish from sustainable species that won’t exacerbate overfishing.

– About 40 per cent of edible food is wasted, thrown out, squandering resources like water, land and fuel.  Cook less, finish what you prepare.

– Try to eat less anyway. Fewer calories is a key to longevity and better health, and reduces resource use of all kinds.
( based on an article by P. K. Newby, an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard, and author of Food and Nutrition:  New Scientist. Jan 2019).

My comment:  I realise that what missing from the above short piece are better examples what to avoid; also how to find out what is genuinely produced  without fertilisers, hormones, steroids, antibiotics etc.  – and what to trust.  Suggestions from readers gratefully received!  I am not a food scientist.

One Comment

  1. “Organic” takes care of “fertilisers, hormones, steroids, antibiotics etc”, if it’s truly organic.

    Buying from local farmers whose operations you can see for yourself helps. Farmer’s markets are good, too. Fresh, local, and seasonal foods are better than processed, preserved, shipped thousands of miles, factory-made, etc. foods.

    Animal-based foods are not unhealthy, despite attempts by PETA, et al, to depict them as such. They are very nutrient-dense and they often can be raised in areas unsuitable for growing crops.

    Grain-finished meat should be avoided. Farmed fish should be avoided.

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